When you need to transfer the title of a vehicle in Rhode Island, there are specific steps you are required to take. In order to successfully transfer the title of a vehicle in Rhode Island, you need to follow these steps:

  • The buyer and seller of the vehicle need to sign the vehicle title
  • You need to complete the required forms
  • Take the title to your local Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • Pay the RI vehicle title transfer fee of $52.50

Be advised you may be required to submit additional documents and payments at the time of the vehicle title transfer.

Smog Certification/Vehicle Inspection

Vehicles registered in the state of Rhode Island are required to endure emissions testing and a safety inspection within 5 days of obtaining an original vehicle registration or biennial registration renewal.

If your vehicle fails an emissions test or a vehicle safety inspection, you are required to have the vehicle repaired and retested. You may be eligible to receive a waiver if your vehicle doesn’t pass an emissions test. New residents of Rhode Island have similar vehicle testing requirements.

Rhode Island Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

In Rhode Island, gasoline-powered passenger vehicles that do not exceed a weight limit of 8,500 pounds are required to pass a smog check and vehicle safety inspection every 2 years.

Gasoline-powered passenger vehicles that are older than 25 years do not receive a failing status on an emissions test if they do not pass it.

If your vehicle falls into one of the following categories, there will be a different testing cycle than gasoline-powered passenger vehicles:

  • Cars and trucks that exceed 8,500 pounds
  • Vehicles purchased from licensed dealers
  • Trailers and semi-trailers
  • Motorcycles
  • Livestock trailers

Vehicles insured as Classic vehicles have different testing criteria. Call the Rhode Island DMV for more information at (401) 462-5890.

Smog Check Exemptions in Rhode Island

Vehicles that fall into one of the following categories are exempt from smog checks and vehicle safety inspections:

  • Newly purchased vehicles exempt for its first two years or when the vehicle has obtained 24,000 miles
  • Electric vehicles (vehicles not exempt from safety inspections)
  • Vehicles that are over 25 years old and registered as antiques

How to Transfer Your Vehicle Title in Rhode Island?

Whether you’re buying or selling a vehicle in Rhode Island, you are required to transfer the title of the vehicle to the new vehicle owner. Vehicle buyers and sellers have specific paperwork they need to complete to successfully transfer a vehicle’s title.

Transferring a Vehicle’s Title As a New Resident of Rhode Island

As a new resident of Rhode Island, you have 30 days to complete a vehicle title transfer and register your vehicle with the state of Rhode Island. Be advised, an RI vehicle title is only required for vehicles that are a model year 2001 or newer.

Transferring the Title of a Vehicle Purchased From a Private Seller

If you purchase a vehicle from a private seller, you must apply for an RI DMV vehicle title transfer yourself.

To apply for an RI DMV vehicle title transfer, you need:

  • A completed Application for Title (Form TR-2/TR-9)
  • A completed Use Tax Return (Form T-334-2)
  • The vehicle title certificate
  • Proof of a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection (if you purchased the vehicle from a different state)
  • Proof of a valid RI residency
  • Your RI driver’s license or ID card
  • A completed bill of sale
  • Payment for the RI vehicle title transfer of $52.50 and sales tax

If you don’t transfer the vehicle title in person at your local RI DMV, you can mail the required documentation and payment(s) to the following address:

Division of Motor Vehicles
600 New London Ave
Cranston, RI 02920

Keep in mind, you also need to register the vehicle once you title it.

Transferring the Title of a Vehicle Purchased From a Dealership

When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership in RI, the dealer will usually handle the vehicle title transfer paperwork for you and submit it with the RI DMV. Keep in mind, the only vehicles that will have a RI vehicle title certificate are vehicles that are model year 2001 and newer.

Transferring the Title of a Vehicle You’re Selling in Rhode Island

If you recently sold a vehicle in RI, you need to provide the vehicle’s buyer with certain documents to complete the vehicle title transfer. The paperwork you need includes:

  • The vehicle title certificate (if applicable)
  • Complete the “seller’s” information on the Application for Title (Form TR-2/TR-9) and the Use Tax Return (Form T-334-2)
  • Bill of sale

The next steps that are required need to be taken by the vehicle’s buyer to complete the RI DMV vehicle title transfer.

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

If you wish to keep a vehicle, gift it to a family member, or sell the vehicle to someone else, you need to transfer the title of the vehicle. You can be the beneficiary, surviving spouse, or joint-owner, and have the legal authority to transfer the vehicle title to someone else after the vehicle’s owner passes away.

When the owner of a vehicle passes away, the process for transferring the title of the vehicle depends on whether the vehicle title was in the individual’s name as a descendant or joint ownership. If the vehicle title was solely in the descendant’s name, you need to know if the estate is being probated.

Probate is a process that legally administers the estate of an individual who has passed away. This legal process occurs when there is no beneficiary or living spouse listed on the will. Probate is proof the last will and testament are legitimate, and it validates the deceased individual’s assets and property. Probate Court determines how you need to proceed with the person’s belongings according to their will.

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

Contact an Attorney or Probate Court

If you are the executor or administrator of the deceased, you need to contact an attorney or Probate Court immediately to determine the next steps you need to take. Be advised, a vehicle title can’t be transferred until the probate process is complete. When the probate process is completed, the heir will receive the vehicle, unless the executor was given the vehicle. If the executor was given the vehicle, they can choose to sell the vehicle.

Gather the Necessary Documentation

The documents you are required to have will vary slightly from one state to the next, but in Rhode Island, you must have all the following documents to transfer the vehicle’s title:

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

Visit the Title Office

As the administrator of the deceased individual’s estate or the beneficiary of the vehicle, you can visit your local RI title office with the above-listed documents to start the vehicle title transfer process.

How to Transfer a Car Title Without Probate

If the vehicle in question is not in probate, the deceased individual’s property can’t exceed a specific amount and a certain amount of time needs to have passed since the individual passed away before the vehicle title transfer can be initiated.

Beneficiaries, administrators, spouses, and joint-owners may only need to provide the death certificate and the vehicle’s title to their local RI title office and have the vehicle’s title re-titled. Attorneys and court orders are not required for this scenario.

Transferring the Title of an Inherited Vehicle in Pennsylvania

If you inherited a vehicle, you need to visit your local RI DMV to transfer the title of the vehicle. You need the following documents and items to put the vehicle’s title in your name:

  • Bill of sale or an Affidavit of Gift of Motor Vehicle (SU 87) This form must be notarized if the donor of the vehicle is not an immediate family member.
  • The title certificate (only required if the vehicle is a 2001 model year or newer
  • A completed Application for Registration and Title Certificate (Form TR-1)
  • A completed Sales or Use Tax Exemption Certificate-Motor Vehicles (Form T-333-1)
  • Payment for the RI vehicle title transfer fee of $52.50 (if applicable)

You may also be required to provide additional documentation depending on your specific situation, such as the Administrator or executor appointed to the will, who needs to present a Notice of Appointment naming the administrator or executor. The administrator or executive is required to complete the vehicle title as the “seller”.

Other documents that may be required include:

  • Next of kin/adult children/parents of deceased (no executor or surviving spouse)
    • Completed Affidavit and Assignment of Title-Sole Heir (REV 2020)
    • Death certificate

The ownership transfer section on the back of the vehicle’s title needs to be left blank.

  • No survivors or executors:
    • Death certificate
    • Voluntary Executor (for small estates) Form (this form is available at your Rhode Island City or Town Hall)
  • Surviving spouse:
    • A permission letter from the lien holder/bank (if there is a lien/loan on the vehicle)
    • Death certificate
    • Current vehicle registration

Be advised, you need to complete the vehicle title certificate as the “buyer” and “seller.” The above-mentioned documents and payment(s) for the RI vehicle title transfer fee need to be submitted to your local RI DMV office in person.

How to Transfer Ownership of a Vehicle Without a Title in Rhode Island?

Because the DMV in Rhode Island doesn’t title vehicles that are model year 2000 or older, they offer alternative documentation to prove you own the vehicle.

To receive alternative documentation, you need:

  • A bill of sale (if you’ve recently purchased the vehicle, and you haven’t registered it yet)
  • Valid proof of identity (ex. RI driver’s license)
  • A completed Registration/License Information Request (Form RLI)
  • Payment for the RI vehicle title fee of $12.50

Keep in mind, you can only request information about a vehicle you currently own. You will need to contact your local RI DMV to see if you can submit the request form in person. If not, you can mail the form and all applicable payment(s) to the address provided on the form.

Can I Gift a Car to a Family Member?

With the proper documentation, you can gift a vehicle to a family member. If you’re the receiver of a gifted vehicle or the vehicle’s ownership is being transferred to you from a relative, you must complete a vehicle title transfer at your local RI DMV office. You will follow similar steps you take when you are purchasing or selling a vehicle when you need to transfer the title of a gifted vehicle in Rhode Island.

Find the “price” section of the vehicle’s title and write “0”. If you are the receiver of the vehicle, you may be exempt from paying vehicle sales tax. Like you would with a private vehicle sale, you are required to fill out the transfer of ownership sections on the back of the original vehicle title.

As the recipient of a gifted vehicle, you may owe tax on the current market value of the vehicle when they register the vehicle. You need to make sure you provide the signed original vehicle title to the city clerk to have the application for a new RI vehicle title completed.

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

When you need to transfer the title of an out-of-state vehicle in Rhode Island, you must meet different requirements. The following title transfer paperwork is required to correctly transfer the vehicle title from one state to Rhode Island:

  • Proof of identification (ex. A valid driver’s license)
  • The original out-of-state vehicle title
  • Proof of a valid RI vehicle insurance policy
  • A completed application for a certificate of ownership
  • A completed Rhode Island vehicle registration application

If a lien holder is in possession of your vehicle title, you need to complete an application for the release of the title, which will be sent to the DMV. Keep in mind, you may be required to submit additional information.

Requesting a Duplicate Vehicle Title in Rhode Island

Keep in mind, only the vehicle owner can apply for a duplicate vehicle title in Rhode Island. If there was a lien on the vehicle, you need to provide the original lien release letter to prove the vehicle loan is paid off.

If you’ve lost or damaged your vehicle’s title, you will need to visit the Pawtucket DMV because this is the only DMV location where you can apply for a duplicate vehicle title.

To apply for a duplicate vehicle title in Rhode Island, you need to:

  • Complete an Application for Title (Form TR-2/TR-9) This form must be notarized.
  • Provide proof of identity (ex. Valid driver’s license, birth certificate, U.S. passport)
  • Provide proof of residence (no more than 60 days old) This proof can include a utility bill, personal check, or bank statement.
  • Provide the lien release letter (if there was a lien on the vehicle that has been paid off)
  • Submit the duplicate vehicle title fee of $52.50

All of the above documentation and payment need to be taken to:

Division of Motor Vehicles
Research/Title Office
600 New London Ave.
Cranston, RI 02920

Transferring a Vehicle Title With a Lien

In the state of Rhode Island, you are not required to apply for a new vehicle title once you have satisfied the loan on the vehicle. The lien holder will sign off on the title and attach a lien release letter. If you would like to replace the vehicle title in your name, you can apply for a duplicate vehicle title.

How Much Does a Title Transfer Cost in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, there are different title transfer fees. These vehicle title transfer fees include:

  • New vehicle title: $52.50
  • Vehicle title transfer fee: $52.50
  • Duplicate vehicle title: $52.50
  • Ownership document for vehicles without a title: $12.50

Be advised you will also need to pay sales tax:

  • New or used vehicles: 7% of the purchase price or NADA retail value
  • Gifted vehicles: No sales tax is due unless there are taxes due

Where Can I Go to Transfer a Vehicle Title in Rhode Island?

There are different DMV locations in Rhode Island where you can transfer a vehicle’s title.

Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles – Cranston Headquarters
600 New London Ave
Cranston, RI 02920
(401) 462-4368

Monday-Friday (8:30 AM to 3:15 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles – Warren Branch
1 Joyce St
Warren, RI 02885
(401) 245-6957

Tuesday and Wednesday (8:30 AM – 3:30 PM)
Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Closed)

Rhode Island DMV – Wakefield Branch
4808 Tower Hill Rd Ste 106
Wakefield, RI 02879
(401) 789-1430

Monday-Friday (8:30 AM – 4PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

How to Fill Out the Rhode Island Title and Title Transfer Forms

Completing the Rhode Island vehicle title and vehicle title transfer forms is essential for initiating the vehicle title transfer process. Make sure you have the required signatures of the vehicle’s seller and vehicle buyer in the designated areas on the vehicle title. You will also need to create a bill of sale that provides information regarding the vehicle, such as its color, make, year, and model. You also need to include the vehicle’s VIN.

When you sell a vehicle instead of gifting it, you need to add the proper sales tax to the vehicle’s total price. There is a “transfer of title by seller” on the vehicle title. In this section, you need to provide an accurate odometer reading and the vehicle’s buyer needs to sign the vehicle’s title in the designated spaces.

Keep in mind, you may have to provide additional documentation, such as a valid Rhode Island vehicle insurance policy that meets or exceeds the minimum vehicle coverage limits set by the state. You may also be asked to provide a valid government-issued photo ID or a foreign passport as proof of identification.

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

If a vehicle’s title is signed but not transferred, the vehicle will have an open vehicle title. An open vehicle title means the vehicle’s seller didn’t transfer ownership of or register the vehicle in their name.

The seller does not assume any legal responsibility for anything associated with the vehicle, including taxes and other fees. If the seller of the vehicle has lost the vehicle’s title, they can apply for a duplicate RI vehicle title (Form TR-2/TR-9) and sign it over to you, so you can put it in your name. Be advised, only the person who is listed on the vehicle’s title can request a duplicate RI vehicle title.

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