What Do I Need for a Kentucky Title Transfer?

When you need to transfer a vehicle title in Kentucky, there are specific steps you need to follow to complete this process successfully. To transfer a Kentucky vehicle title, you need to:

  • Visit your local Kentucky county clerk’s office with the seller of the vehicle
  • Be sure to have the current vehicle title certificate and payment for all applicable vehicle title transfer fees
  • The vehicle’s buyer needs to have proof of a valid Kentucky vehicle insurance policy
  • All parties must have a valid form of photo ID

It’s important you have these documents in order to complete the vehicle title transfer process in Kentucky to avoid unnecessary fees and delays.

Smog Certification/Vehicle Inspection

The state of Kentucky removed the requirement for smog certifications in 2005 when Governor Ernie Fletcher signed an emergency regulation, so this vehicle certification is not required in this state.

Although Kentucky doesn’t have emissions/smog checks, they have eco-friendly driver incentives. If you are making a conscious effort to reduce your vehicle’s emissions, you are eligible to receive a vehicle tax break. Residents of Kentucky who own:

  • Hybrids
  • Electric cars
  • Plug-in hybrids
  • Alternative fuel vehicles
  • Vehicles that run off of diesel

Are eligible for a tax break from the state of Kentucky.

How to Transfer Your Vehicle Title in Kentucky?

When you need to transfer your vehicle’s title in Kentucky, there are specific steps you need to follow.

Vehicle Title Transfers for New Residents of Kentucky

To receive a vehicle title from the state of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet as a new resident of the state, you need to go to your local county clerk’s office and present the following documentation and pay the following fees:

  • Vehicle title certificate from your previous state
  • Certified vehicle inspection from your county’s sheriff department to verify your vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Proof of a valid Kentucky vehicle insurance policy (must be dated within 45 days)
  • A valid driver’s license or photo ID
  • Payment for the vehicle title transfer fees and all applicable taxes

If you are currently paying a car loan, and the lender has possession of the vehicle’s title, the county clerk will have to write a letter to your lender to request that the vehicle title be sent to the county clerk’s office. The county clerk in Kentucky may provide temporary plates while you wait for your vehicle’s title.

Keep in mind, if the name on your vehicle’s title is different from the name on your ID, you will need to provide proof of a legal name change.

Vehicle Title Transfers for Leased Vehicles in Kentucky

If your vehicle is leased, you must have the documentation listed above, and the following documentation, and bring it to your county clerk’s office:

  • Power of attorney from your leasing company stating that you may sign the required documents on behalf of the leasing company
  • A statement on the leasing company’s letterhead, stating all sales tax that was paid on the vehicle

NOTE: If your leasing company honors Kentucky’s U-Drive-It program (available to rental and leasing companies), you are not required to provide proof of sales tax paid, and your vehicle will be exempt from the vehicle inspection.

Completing Vehicle Title Transfers for Vehicle Sales in Kentucky

A Kentucky vehicle title transfer is required when the ownership of a vehicle is changed. Changes in the vehicle title include a change of ownership that occurs as a result of the purchase or sale of a vehicle.

Purchasing a Vehicle From a Kentucky Dealer

When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership in KY, the dealer usually handles the vehicle titling and vehicle registration process for you. If the dealership doesn’t handle these processes for you, you are required to title and register the vehicle on your own.

Transferring the Vehicle Title of Private Party Transactions (Buying and Selling a Vehicle)

When the purchase and sale of a vehicle occur between two private parties, the buyer and the seller need to visit the KY county clerk’s office together with the following documentation and payments:

  • The current vehicle title certificate
  • Proof of a valid KY vehicle insurance policy from the buyer
  • A completed Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration (Form TC 96-182) This form includes an odometer disclosure
  • A valid photo ID
  • Payment for all applicable title fees and sales/use taxes

If the buyer and seller of the vehicle can’t be present for any reason, the signatures on the application may need to be notarized.

Vehicle Title Transfers for Selling Your Vehicle to an Out-of-State Resident

When you are selling your vehicle to an out-of-state resident, you must take the following steps:

  • Provide your signature and have the buyer provide their signature on the back of the vehicle title certificate
  • Provide the vehicle’s buyer with the title certificate
  • Remove the license plates and return them to the county clerk’s office where the vehicle was registered

Keep in mind, it is the vehicle buyer’s responsibility to complete the vehicle title transfer in their home state. If the vehicle’s buyer does not transfer the vehicle’s title within 15 days, they need to file an Affidavit of Incomplete Transfer (Form TC 96-3).

How to Transfer a Car Title When the Owner is Deceased?

You need to transfer the vehicle’s title when the owner of the vehicle passes away if you are the beneficiary and plan on keeping the vehicle, gifting the vehicle to a relative, or selling the vehicle to someone else.

Surviving spouses, beneficiaries, and joint owners have the legal authority to transfer the vehicle title of a deceased individual. The process for transferring the vehicle title of the deceased depends on if the vehicle is part of a probated estate.

To transfer the vehicle title of a deceased individual, you need to know whether the vehicle title was in the individual’s name as a descendant or joint ownership. If the title was primarily in the descendant’s name, you need to determine if the estate is being probated.

Probate happens when there is no beneficiary or living spouse present on the will. This legal process involves administering the estate of the deceased individual. Probate also proves that the last will and testament are legitimate. Probate Court will determine how to proceed with the deceased individual’s belongings. During this process, the deceased person’s property is distributed based on their will.

If the vehicle is part of a probated estate, you need to follow these steps to transfer the vehicle title of the deceased person:

Contact Probate Court and Attorney

The vehicle title of a deceased person can’t be transferred until the probate process is complete, so it’s a good idea for the executor or administrator of the deceased should contact Probate Court to determine their next course of action as soon as possible. Once the probate process is completed, the heir receives the vehicle. If the executor was given the vehicle, they can choose to sell the vehicle.

Gather the Required Documents

You need to make sure you have the following documentation in order to transfer the vehicle title of a deceased individual:

  • Death certificate
  • Order from Probate Court to transfer the vehicle
  • Certificate of title
  • Odometer disclosure statement
  • Transfer fee

Visit the Title Office

As the administrator of a deceased person’s estate or the beneficiary of the vehicle, you can visit the title office with the above-mentioned documents to begin the vehicle title transfer in Kentucky.

Make sure you have all the required documents and applicable payments before visiting your local KY KYTC office.

How to Transfer a Vehicle Title Without Probate

In the state of Kentucky, the deceased individual’s property can’t exceed a certain amount, and a specific amount of time needs to pass since the person passed away before the vehicle title transfer process can be initiated.

If you are the joint-owner, spouse, administrator, or beneficiary, you may only be required to provide a death certificate at your local KY title office, and they will retitle the vehicle title for you. No court order or attorney is required in this situation.

Transferring a Kentucky Vehicle Title After a Lease Buyout

Once you pay off your vehicle loan, the lender needs to release the lien. Once the lien on the vehicle is released, you can complete the vehicle title transfer process. In order for the lien on your vehicle to be released, you need a Title Lien Statement (Form TC 96-187), which is only available at a KY county clerk’s office. This form needs to be completed by the lender and submitted to the KY county clerk.

How to Transfer Ownership of a Vehicle Without a Title in Kentucky?

If the vehicle is over 25 years old, the title may no longer be associated with the vehicle. Since every vehicle that is registered in Kentucky is required to have a title, you must apply for a new vehicle title at the KY county clerk’s office, and bring:

  • The notarized bill of sale that includes the VIN, make, model, and year of the vehicle
  • The application for the certificate of title
  • Proof of a valid Kentucky vehicle insurance policy

The KY county clerk will conduct a VIN search to determine the status of the vehicle’s title. If the property taxes on the vehicle are delinquent, you are responsible for paying these fees.

If the vehicle is a restoration project, you can complete a vehicle title transfer only and pay the $59.50 historic vehicle title fee. You are not required to register the vehicle until it passes the sheriff’s safety inspection.

If you lost the vehicle’s title, you will need to apply for a duplicate Kentucky vehicle title.

Can I Gift a Vehicle to a Family Member?

Yes, you are able to gift a vehicle to a relative in Kentucky. The process for completing a vehicle title transfer of a gifted vehicle is similar to the steps for completing a vehicle title transfer of a purchased vehicle. The sales tax is based on the vehicle’s current trade-in value. You need to complete the Motor Vehicle Usage Tax Multipurpose Form (Form 71A 101)

Transferring a Vehicle Title When You Have an Out-of-State Title

If you purchase a vehicle or bring a vehicle from a different state, you are required to title the vehicle within 15 days. If you do not reside in Kentucky, you are required to register the vehicle with the county clerk of the county in which the motor vehicle is principally operated.

Residents who are new to Kentucky must present the current out-of-state vehicle title. If there is a lien on the vehicle, the lien holder remains in possession of the vehicle. The county clerk is required to contact the lien holder and have the vehicle title sent to the county clerk. While you are waiting for the vehicle title to be sent, a temporary vehicle title will be provided, and it’s valid for 30 days.

As the owner of the vehicle, you must provide proof of insurance and the current out-of-state registration before the temporary tag is issued. The following documentation is required for this process:

  • The out-of-state vehicle title (a photocopy of the vehicle’s title is not acceptable)
  • If you are purchasing a vehicle from an out-of-state dealer or individual, the assignment portion of the vehicle’s title must be completed.
  • Proof of paid sales tax in another state must be provided. A credit equal to the amount paid in the other state will be applied to the amount you owe in Kentucky. The proof of the paid sales tax must identify the taxpayer, the dollar amount paid, the type of tax paid, and the serial number of the vehicle.

The following types of proof are acceptable in this situation:

  • Dealer purchase contract
  • Receipt or letter from tax agency
  • Tax shown on the certificate of title
  • Financing statement from the lender

If you don’t have proof of sales tax paid, credit can be given on vehicles that are being titled in the same name. The vehicle owner must provide proof of current vehicle registration from their previous state.

The credit will be the same as the percentage charge in the other state and is applied toward the amount owed in the state of Kentucky, which is 6% of the current trade-in value that’s listed in the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) the official used car guide.

Requesting a Duplicate Vehicle Title in Kentucky

If you lose or damage your Kentucky vehicle title certificate, you must apply for a duplicate vehicle title by bringing the following documentation and payment to your county clerk’s office:

  • A completed Application for Kentucky Certificate of Title or Registration (Form TC 96-182)
  • The title number or license plate of the vehicle
  • Your valid driver’s license or photo ID
  • Payment for all applicable fees, such as the $8 vehicle title replacement fee and the notary fee

You need to have all of these documents plus all applicable payments to avoid a delay in receiving your duplicate Kentucky vehicle title.

How Much Does a Title Transfer Cost in Kentucky?

The vehicle title transfer fees in KY are $9. If you currently have a loan on your vehicle, there is an additional $22 fee.

If you’re buying or selling a vehicle, you are required to have the vehicle title notarized during the sale of the vehicle, which costs an additional fee. Keep in mind there are registration, insurance, and usage taxes that are also due when you transfer the title of a vehicle.

Where Can I Go to Transfer a Vehicle Title in Kentucky?

There are different Kentucky locations where you can transfer a vehicle’s title.

Department of Motor Vehicles
50 Public Sq.
Somerset, KY 42501
(606) 677-4029

Monday-Friday (7:30 AM to 4:30 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Department of Motor Vehicles
207 W Lexington St
Harrodsburg, KY 40330
(859) 734-6310

Monday-Friday (7:30 AM to 4:30)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Department of Motor Vehicles
300 W Main St Ste 232
Grayson, KY 41143
(606) 474-5188

Monday-Friday (8 AM to 4 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

How to Fill Out the Kentucky Title and Title Transfer Forms

You need to complete the KY title and title transfer forms completed before the transfer process is initiated and validated. Make sure you obtain a bill of sale that discloses specific information regarding the vehicle, such as the model, color, make, and year of the vehicle. You need to also include the vehicle’s VIN.

If you sold a vehicle instead of gifting it, you need to add sales tax to the complete price of the vehicle. Provide an accurate odometer reading in the “transfer of title by seller” section of the vehicle’s title. The recipient of the vehicle is required to sign the vehicle title in the provided spaces.

Keep in mind, you may be required to provide additional information and documentation, such as a valid KY vehicle insurance policy that meets or exceeds the minimum insurance requirements set by the state of Kentucky. You also need to have a valid government-issued photo ID. If you don’t have a government-issued photo ID, you can use your foreign passport as an acceptable proof of identification.

When these steps are completed, you are responsible for paying the applicable Kentucky vehicle title transfer fees.

My Car Title Was Signed But Never Transferred. What Do I Do?

When the seller of a vehicle signs the vehicle’s title but doesn’t transfer it, the vehicle has an open title. With an open vehicle title, the vehicle’s seller assumes no responsibility for the fees associated with the vehicle because the vehicle is not registered in their name.

If you lose the vehicle’s title, the vehicle’s title will be temporarily open, and the person listed on the vehicle’s title is responsible for requesting a duplicate Kentucky vehicle title (Form TC 96-182). Once the vehicle’s title is obtained, the seller can sign the title over to you, and you can transfer the title.

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