How do I get my car title transfered into my name?
March 25, 2013 4:19 PM   Subscribe

What is the process and what taxes must I pay when transferring a car title from my father to me? Interstate snowflakes inside.

Due to circumstances when I was trying to buy my car, my father was the one who actually purchased and registered it in New York where he lives. I would like to officially take over the title and register the car in California, where I now live. What is the process?

My dad will be visiting me in California, so he can sign over the title to me in person. I figure this can be done as a gift. Then do I have to pay taxes / file paperwork in New York? I will need a California license, title, and registration. Will my NY inspection (good through August) satisfy the CA smog test or do I have to get the smog test done immediately? Do I get a CA license ahead of time (I still have my NY license), or do I just go to the DMV with my NY title and get everything done at once? What's the process that minimizes time and money spent while keeping my car legally on the road?
posted by domnit to Law & Government (4 answers total)
I can speak to one part of it: you will definitely have to have a smog check. And depending on the car, you may have emissions issues, since the CA standards are different than those of the other 49 states.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:45 PM on March 25, 2013

If the car is recent and has been well maintained, it should pass California smog without great issue (the other 49 state requirements have caught up with ours, pretty much anything sold in the US after 2001 will pass smog no matter where it was first sold). But know this: You can and should do the smog inspection before you go to the DMV.

Then bring the car, your father, the out-of-state title, your proof of California insurance, the proof of your passed smog test, a filled-out copy of Reg 343, and a screwdriver to a DMV. Bring a book to read. Eventually, you'll walk out with a new registration and set of license plates (which you should swap in the parking lot). Your new title will be mailed to you from Sacramento.

If you are a California resident, you were supposed to get a California license within 10 days of establishing residency. If you are having California income taxes withheld or are registered to vote here, you have already established a record of your residency in a database in Sacramento. Get your license moved to CA before you get caught.
posted by toxic at 5:30 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, your father should send the old license plates back to NY DMV. This is what tells NY that he is no longer responsible for the car, and cancels his registration.
posted by toxic at 5:34 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the info! So it sounds like I don't owe New York anything besides the old plates, and I would just go through the same procedure as if I bought the car in California, right? And I should get my CA license even while driving the NY car.
posted by domnit at 11:08 PM on March 25, 2013

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