Washington State Vehicle Title Transfer Guide. Sell My Car Now

Transfer ownership into your name

Transfer ownership of a new vehicle into your name after you buy it from a dealer or private party, or receive it as a gift.

How to Transfer a Vehicle Title Without Probate

The steps you need to follow to transfer the title of a vehicle without probate vary depending on the state in which you live. In Washington, the deceased individual’s property can’t be more than a certain amount and a specific amount of time needs to have passed since the individual passed away before the vehicle title transfer can be initiated.

If you happen to be the joint-owner, administrator, or beneficiary, you may only be required to provide the death certificate and the vehicle’s title to your local WA title office. The title office agent will retitle the vehicle for you without an attorney or court order.


Where Do I Sign a Washington Title?

Washington requires a signature in two places. Sign the front of the title where it is marked “Registered Owner Signature” and “First Legal Owner Signature & Title.”

Sign the bottom of the title where it reads “Signature(s) of Seller(s).”

Print your name on the bottom of the title where it reads “Printed Name(s) of Seller(s).”

Does Washington require emission testing?

According to the Department of Ecology in Washington, the program was phased out on January 1, 2020, after a 38-year run.

Instead, with The Clean Car Law, Washington state has adopted California’s strict emission standards and vehicles from 2009 and later must be CARB-compliant. If not, it won’t be possible to register the vehicle in the state. 

If you’re buying a used vehicle from 2009 and later, it must meet the required emission standards. Buyers must know this important fact before buying a car from a private individual or dealership. 

Vehicles from 2008 or earlier and cars purchased by a nonresident who later became a WA resident are two of the notable exceptions. 

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

If your vehicle’s title is signed but not transferred, the vehicle has an open title, which means the vehicle’s seller didn’t transfer ownership of or register the vehicle in their name. Since the vehicle’s seller didn’t register the vehicle in their name, they do not assume any legal responsibility for anything pertaining to the vehicle, including taxes and other fees.

If the vehicle’s seller has lost the title or the title is damaged, they can apply for an Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest/Gross Weight License (Form TD 420 040) and sign it over to you, so you can put the vehicle title in your name. Be advised, the individual who is listed on the vehicle’s title is responsible for requesting a duplicate vehicle title.