How do I transfer title on a vehicle in Chicago I haven't registered?
April 22, 2005 9:46 PM   Subscribe

So I bought a truck from my brother-in-law and brought it over to Chicago from San Francisco last August. I have a transfer of title from him but I have never registered the vehicle (oops). Now I'm leaving the country and selling the truck to a friend. What's the easiest way to transfer title to him?

A couple extra points: I WAS going to register the truck but I didn't have a Chicago driver's license, it looked like I needed one on the application for registration, and this seemed like a painful extra step I didn't feel like dealing with. In addition, any time I tried to call the listed numbers for information, I always got busy signals and answering machines. The vehicle IS insured for the next 3 months, and I do have a Hawaii driver's license.

Good answers will either give me the best way to do this, or at least point me to a human being (phone, email, or a time and place without ridiculous lines) who can tell me the best way to do this.
posted by onalark to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (7 answers total)
Is a bill of sale between me and him and the transfer of title I was given by the previous owner all I need?
posted by onalark at 9:52 PM on April 22, 2005

This past summer, I moved to Chicago from Massachusetts, sold my car in Chicago without having registered it in the state. I sold it to Carmax but all we did was that I signed over the title (on the back of the title) to Carmax, signed a bill of sale, and that was it. I always planned on registering my car too, until we got to Chicago and I realized I wanted to sell it.

Good luck!
posted by cajo at 5:20 AM on April 23, 2005

You may have to register the car in your own name before transferring it to a third party.

Right now all you have is the orginal title transferring the car to you, but you don't have a title you can transfer to the third party.

I was standing in line one time at the (WA state) DMV and the guy in front of me was in the exact same situation. He had the title that A transferred to B, and the bill of sale from B to C. The DMV told him they could not register it without B coming in and registering first.
posted by falconred at 9:06 AM on April 23, 2005

In my experience, falconred is right on.

Also, in many places there are penalties for failing to officially have a new title issued within a certain amount of time. You and/or your friend will probably also have to pay taxes on the sale of the car. IA definitely NAL, but if money is an issue, it would be wise to find out a) how long the grace period for titling is in your area and b) who pays what and how much in taxes.
posted by climalene at 9:20 AM on April 23, 2005

I was the buyer in a similar situation. He had the title, in Person A's name, and instead of listing his own information, he put down mine, and made the receipt nameless.

This would really only work if you've never filled in the buyer info on the title. I was worried that it was shady, but the woman at the DMV got the whole story, and her basic reaction was "eh, whatever."

In my case it was bought from someone who liked to fix up cars, so he had never used it personally, just bought it for cheap and fixed it up for resale.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:41 AM on April 23, 2005

Something to consider (but I'm not a lawyer) - get a power of attorney (document) from your brother, then transfer the title from your brother (with you acting on his behalf) to the new owner. That way you're never in the loop (as an owner).

If you have the time, it could be a good idea to go to whatever agency handles title transfers, and discuss the situation with an employee. Keep in mind that (a) employee pay doesn't depend on revenue, so they aren't going to try to get as much money as possible from you as they can; (b) employees often (arguably, mostly) want to be as helpful as possible, but won't advise you on how to break the law; and (c) they won't ask your name, SSN, etc., before discussing the situation - you can walk out, hopefully better informed, without risking anything but your time. [And if you do get useful advice from someone, write down his/her name "in case you run into any questions when you actually do the transaction".]
posted by WestCoaster at 6:36 PM on April 23, 2005

Alright, so what I was hoping for was information on title transfer specific to Chicago because calling that number was fruitless.

Expecting horrible horrible lines, I went to the Thompson center to apply for the title, and there was NO line! Everybody was really helpful (they explained that the way I currently had things set up I'd have to register the truck myself first). I told a white lie and we got the title transferred by *fixing* the buyer info on the title transfer form.

My advice to future Chicago title transferrers in a query-filled situation is to just go downtown and speak with one of the many friendly people in the Thompson center.
posted by onalark at 5:40 PM on April 27, 2005

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