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How to add a spouse to a car title

How to add a spouse to a car title

A car's title dictates ownership of the vehicle. The name that appears there controls what happens to the car – they can sell it, refinance it or even just give it away. But states have their own rules about who can hold the title, and how and if they can add a co-owner.

The procedure for adding a name to a car title is usually pretty basic nonetheless – unless there's a loan against the vehicle. In this case, you might not actually hold title to the car in the first place, so you can't unilaterally add someone else's name. Lenders often hold title when there's a lien against a vehicle, even if the registration is in your name.

Video of the Day

Check With Your Lender

Your first step should be to reach out to your lender if there's a loan against your car. In fact, most states require this. They won't add anyone to a title held by a lienholder without that lienholder's express consent and approval.

This makes sense because that lien gives them ownership of the car – they can sell it to recoup what they lent you to buy it if you default on payments. Titles are directly issued to lienholders, not the borrowers, in many states, such as New Jersey and Maine.

Some lienholders will let you add an additional party to the title, but others won't. There's no universal rule, so contact your lender to find out where you stand.

Removing the Lien

You might consider paying off the loan or lien if possible if your lender won't agree to add a name to the title. This removes the lien so it's no longer an issue.

Most lenders will confirm with you in writing that the loan has been satisfied, and they'll tell you in that letter what you should do in your state to remove their name from the title. Check with your department of motor vehicles if you don't receive instructions as to how to go about it. You can add anyone to the title after the lienholder is removed.

Adding Someone to Your Loan

You might also ask your lender about refinancing the vehicle to add your potential co-owner to the loan as well. This would streamline the transfer of title into both names when the loan is paid off. You're not only giving the individual shared ownership of your car when the lien is satisfied, but responsibility for paying the loan against the car as well.

This is typically only an option, however, if the individual's credit is at least as good as yours, if not better.

Pros and Cons of Shared Ownership

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to the outcome of going through this process, however you achieve that second name on your title.

You might get a better loan rate if you refinance in both names and your co-borrower has pretty good credit. On the flip side, you've now given unilateral control over the vehicle to this other person as well when both your names appear on the title. There will be two names on the car's registration as well, which can create liability issues in the event of an accident or serious traffic violation.

Selling the car doesn't require the consent of both parties on the title in many states. Your co-owner can turn the keys over to someone else without your agreement after the loan is paid off. You can enter into a written agreement between you prohibiting this, but you'd have to go to court to enforce it.

Don’t Forget the Insurance

You're not done when you've changed the title. Don't neglect to let your insurance company know about the change as well. In fact, some states won't add an individual to a car title unless and until that second owner is covered under the vehicle's insurance policy and the proof is presented that this is the case.

If you have just married, you may want to add your husband to the title and registration of your car. Joint ownership of property is common among married couples. In some cases, having both names on property and accounts allows either spouse to transact business without having a power of attorney.

Step 1

Take your car title, registration and husband with you to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to add his name to the title. Both parties must appear in person with valid identification to change a title, or you must provide a power of attorney. The power of attorney must list the vehicle year, make and vehicle identification number (VIN); the signature of person not present; and specific permission for the other person to transfer the title and registration.

Step 2

Sign off the title where it says signature of seller, and enter the exact vehicle mileage and your current address. NOTE: If there is a lien holder listed on the title, a release of lien is required, or written permission from the lien holder to change the title.

Step 3

Enter both your name and your husband´s name as purchasers of the vehicle, your current address, signatures and enter a purchase amount of zero. Transfers to immediate family members are not subject to state sales tax.

Step 4

Present the title, registration and both drivers’ licenses to the clerk when called to the counter at the DMV office. Ask to have the title and registration transferred into both names.

Pay the transfer fees. Separate fees are charged for transferring title and transferring registration. Your new title should arrive in the mail within a few weeks. Fees and actual processing time vary by state; please confirm the process for your state by calling your DMV or visiting your state’s website.

Your car’s Certificate of Title, commonly referred to as a car title or pink slip, dictates the legal ownership of your vehicle. It is a required document to transfer ownership to another party. If you own your vehicle outright, your car’s title will be in your name.

You may decide you want to add somebody else’s name to your car title in case something happens to you or to give the person equal ownership in the vehicle. This can be because:

  • You have recently married
  • You want to allow a family member to use your vehicle regularly
  • You are gifting the vehicle to another person but want to retain ownership

To add someone’s name to a car title isn’t a complex process, but you must follow a few procedures to ensure it’s done legally and with the approval of all involved parties.

Part 1 of 3: Check for requirements and procedures

Step 1: Decide who you want to add to the title. If you just got married, it may be a spouse or you may want to add your children if they are now old enough to drive the vehicle or you want them to become owners if you should be incapacitated.

Step 2: Determine requirements. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to find out requirements for adding someone’s name to the title.

Each state has its own rules you must follow. You can check the online resources for your particular state.

Perform an online search for your state’s name and department of motor vehicles.

For example, if you are in Delaware, search “Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles”. The first result is “Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles”.

Search their site for the correct form to add a name to your car title. It may be the same for as required to apply for a car title.

Step 3: Check with the lienholder if you have a loan on the car.

Some lenders won’t allow you to add a name because it changes the terms of the loan.

Step 4: Alert insurance provider. Alert your insurance provider of your intent to add a name to the title.

  • Note: Some states require you to show proof of insurance coverage for the new person being added before you can request the new title.

Part 2 of 3: Fill out the application for a new title

Step 1: Fill out application. Fill out an application for registration, which you may find online or obtain from your local DMV office.

Step 2: Fill out the back of the title. Fill out the information on the back of the title if you have it.

Both you and the other person will need to sign.

You also want to make sure to add your name to the section with the requested change to ensure you’re still listed as the owner.

Step 3: Determine signing requirements. Find out if you must sign in front of a notary or at the DMV office before you sign the back of the title and the application.

Part 3 of 3: Submit the application for a new title

Step 1: Bring your application to the DMV office. Bring your application, title, proof of insurance and payment for any fees associated with the name change to your local DMV office.

You may also have the option to mail the paperwork in.

Step 2: Wait for the new title to arrive. Expect to receive the new title within four weeks.

Adding someone to your car title is relatively straightforward but does require some research and filling out some paperwork. Make sure you read all the regulations carefully before submitting any forms to your local DMV to prevent any confusion down the road.

How to add a spouse to a car title

Your car’s Certificate of Title, commonly referred to as a car title or pink slip, dictates the legal ownership of your vehicle. It is a required document to transfer ownership to another party. If you own your vehicle outright, your car’s title will be in your name.

You may decide you want to add somebody else’s name to your car title in case something happens to you or to give the person equal ownership in the vehicle. This can be because:

  • You have recently married
  • You want to allow a family member to use your vehicle regularly
  • You are gifting the vehicle to another person but want to retain ownership

To add someone’s name to a car title isn’t a complex process, but you must follow a few procedures to ensure it’s done legally and with the approval of all involved parties.

Part 1 of 3: Check for requirements and procedures

Step 1: Decide who you want to add to the title. If you just got married, it may be a spouse or you may want to add your children if they are now old enough to drive the vehicle or you want them to become owners if you should be incapacitated.

Step 2: Determine requirements. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to find out requirements for adding someone’s name to the title.

Each state has its own rules you must follow. You can check the online resources for your particular state.

Perform an online search for your state’s name and department of motor vehicles.

For example, if you are in Delaware, search “Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles”. The first result is “Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles”.

Search their site for the correct form to add a name to your car title. It may be the same for as required to apply for a car title.

Step 3: Check with the lienholder if you have a loan on the car.

Some lenders won’t allow you to add a name because it changes the terms of the loan.

Step 4: Alert insurance provider. Alert your insurance provider of your intent to add a name to the title.

  • Note: Some states require you to show proof of insurance coverage for the new person being added before you can request the new title.

Part 2 of 3: Fill out the application for a new title

Step 1: Fill out application. Fill out an application for registration, which you may find online or obtain from your local DMV office.

Step 2: Fill out the back of the title. Fill out the information on the back of the title if you have it.

Both you and the other person will need to sign.

You also want to make sure to add your name to the section with the requested change to ensure you’re still listed as the owner.

Step 3: Determine signing requirements. Find out if you must sign in front of a notary or at the DMV office before you sign the back of the title and the application.

Part 3 of 3: Submit the application for a new title

Step 1: Bring your application to the DMV office. Bring your application, title, proof of insurance and payment for any fees associated with the name change to your local DMV office.

You may also have the option to mail the paperwork in.

Step 2: Wait for the new title to arrive. Expect to receive the new title within four weeks.

Adding someone to your car title is relatively straightforward but does require some research and filling out some paperwork. Make sure you read all the regulations carefully before submitting any forms to your local DMV to prevent any confusion down the road.

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This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Add Someone to Your Car Title.

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How to add a spouse to a car title

A car's title dictates ownership of the vehicle. The name that appears there controls what happens to the car – they can sell it, refinance it or even just give it away. But states have their own rules about who can hold the title, and how and if they can add a co-owner.

The procedure for adding a name to a car title is usually pretty basic nonetheless – unless there's a loan against the vehicle. In this case, you might not actually hold title to the car in the first place, so you can't unilaterally add someone else's name. Lenders often hold title when there's a lien against a vehicle, even if the registration is in your name.

Video of the Day

Check With Your Lender

Your first step should be to reach out to your lender if there's a loan against your car. In fact, most states require this. They won't add anyone to a title held by a lienholder without that lienholder's express consent and approval.

This makes sense because that lien gives them ownership of the car – they can sell it to recoup what they lent you to buy it if you default on payments. Titles are directly issued to lienholders, not the borrowers, in many states, such as New Jersey and Maine.

Some lienholders will let you add an additional party to the title, but others won't. There's no universal rule, so contact your lender to find out where you stand.

Removing the Lien

You might consider paying off the loan or lien if possible if your lender won't agree to add a name to the title. This removes the lien so it's no longer an issue.

Most lenders will confirm with you in writing that the loan has been satisfied, and they'll tell you in that letter what you should do in your state to remove their name from the title. Check with your department of motor vehicles if you don't receive instructions as to how to go about it. You can add anyone to the title after the lienholder is removed.

Adding Someone to Your Loan

You might also ask your lender about refinancing the vehicle to add your potential co-owner to the loan as well. This would streamline the transfer of title into both names when the loan is paid off. You're not only giving the individual shared ownership of your car when the lien is satisfied, but responsibility for paying the loan against the car as well.

This is typically only an option, however, if the individual's credit is at least as good as yours, if not better.

Pros and Cons of Shared Ownership

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to the outcome of going through this process, however you achieve that second name on your title.

You might get a better loan rate if you refinance in both names and your co-borrower has pretty good credit. On the flip side, you've now given unilateral control over the vehicle to this other person as well when both your names appear on the title. There will be two names on the car's registration as well, which can create liability issues in the event of an accident or serious traffic violation.

Selling the car doesn't require the consent of both parties on the title in many states. Your co-owner can turn the keys over to someone else without your agreement after the loan is paid off. You can enter into a written agreement between you prohibiting this, but you'd have to go to court to enforce it.

Don’t Forget the Insurance

You're not done when you've changed the title. Don't neglect to let your insurance company know about the change as well. In fact, some states won't add an individual to a car title unless and until that second owner is covered under the vehicle's insurance policy and the proof is presented that this is the case.

The only areas of the form you must fill out are:

  • Plate or TPO — Enter the Washington State license plate number or the Title Purpose Only (TPO) number. If you don’t have one of these numbers, leave this area blank.
  • Color #1 — Enter the primary color of the vehicle.
  • Color #2 — Enter the secondary color of the vehicle. If your vehicle only has one color, leave this area blank.
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – You can find this number on the vehicle title or registration, or on the dash or driver door post of the vehicle.
  • Model YR — Enter the year your vehicle was made.
  • Pwr — Fill in the primary fuel type of the vehicle (gas, diesel, hybrid, electric, propane, etc.). The Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius are currently the only vehicles that can be registered as a hybrid.
  • Use — Enter “passenger” (2-door or 4-door), “truck,” “travel trailer,” “motorcycle,” etc.
  • Make — Enter the manufacturer of the vehicle (Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda, etc.)
  • Series/Body Type — Tell us if the vehicle is a 2-door, 4-door, pickup, convertible, etc. You can find this information on the vehicle’s title or registration.
  • Scale weight — Enter the empty weight of the vehicle. If the scale weight isn’t on the title or registration, you must weigh the vehicle at a vehicle scale and submit documentation of the scale weight with this application.
  • Mileage — Enter the odometer reading of the vehicle. If the odometer disclosure area on the vehicle title isn’t complete, and the vehicle is less than 10 years old, you must include a completed Odometer Disclosure Statement with this application.
  • New Registered Owner — Complete this section as you would like it to appear on your registration. The resident address must be a physical street address in Washington State.
  • New Legal Owner or Lienholder — Complete this section only if the legal owner or lienholder is different than the registered owner.
  • Notarization/Certification for Registered Owner(s) Signature – All registered owners must sign the completed form in front of a licensed notary public or in person at a vehicle licensing office.

How to submit the form by mail

  1. Fill out the form as described above.
    • All registered owners must provide the driver license number from their unexpired Washington license, unless they’re exempt from getting a driver license under RCW 46.20.025 .
    • Notarize the form by having all the registered owners sign the form in front of a licensed notary public.
  2. If your address is outside Washington State, or mail delivery isn’t available at your Washington State address, complete a Primary Residence Address Exception (English, Español, Русский, and more) form and include it with your completed application.
  3. Mail your notarized application form with all supporting documents and a check or money order for the fee (payable to “Department of Licensing”) to any vehicle licensing office.

How to submit the form at an office

Visit a vehicle licensing office. The licensing agent will help you through the process.

Register a vehicle with more than one owner or registrant

How to register

The procedures to register a vehicle that has more than one owner or registrant 1 are generally the same as to register (and title) a vehicle that has a single owner or registrant. You can find special instructions below. Follow all the other registrations instructions explained on the register and title a vehicle page.


Can the registration document and the title certificate for a vehicle show two different names?

  • If the registration and title show two different names, the owner (the name on the title certificate) must authorize the other person to register the vehicle by completing box 3 on the Vehicle Registration/Title Application (PDF) (MV-82) form.
  • If the proof of ownership is a NY State title certificate in the name of the current owner, the title certificate is examined and returned to you at the DMV office.
  • If the proof isn’t a NY State title certificate in the name of the current owner, we keep the proofs and mail a NY State title certificate to the owner within 90 days.

The required liability insurance and NY State Insurance ID card must display the name of the registrant, not the name of the owner.

Either the registrant or the owner can bring the registration and title application to a DMV office. The person who applies must show the original proofs of identity and date of birth for both the registrant and the owner.

More than one registrant

There can be two or more registrants. Both the primary registrant and the co-registrant must sign Vehicle Registration/Title Application (PDF) (MV-82) and provide their proofs of identity and date of birth. Both names must appear on the NY State Insurance ID Card.

  • If only one of the registrants is the owner, the owner must complete box 3 on Vehicle Registration/Title Application (PDF) (MV-82).
  • If there are more than two registrants, you must complete Statement of Partnership or Joint Ownership (PDF) (MV-83T).
  • If you register a vehicle for a partnership, you must provide proof of a legal partnership.
  • If you register a vehicle for a corporation, provide proof of incorporation (see the Instructions for Vehicle Registration/Title Application (PDF) (MV-82.1) for more information).

Adding a registrant to a registration

You can’t add a name to a current registration. You must apply for a new registration and new vehicle plates in the two names.

Remove a name (person) from a registration

If there is more than one name on the registration, you can apply for a registration amendment to remove one or more names from the registration. Complete the Vehicle Registration/Title Application (PDF) (MV-82) with the names of the registrants that remain, and show proofs of identity and date of birth. The fee is $3.

To transfer ownership, do both owners need to sign the title certificate?

No. More than one person can own a vehicle, but to transfer ownership, only one of the owners is required to sign the title certificate.

Adding a name to a title certificate

You can’t add a name to a current title certificate. You must apply for a new title certificate that displays the two names. The current owner signs the title certificate to transfer the ownership to the two persons. The two persons must apply for a new title certificate.

If you need to transfer vehicle ownership you may do so only at a motor vehicle agency this type of transaction cannot be handled through the mail. To ensure the proper transfer of documents and to avoid penalties, please follow these guidelines.

If you sold or bought a vehicle

The Seller must:

  • Remove the plates and surrender them to a motor vehicle agency or full service agency, unless the plates are being transferred to another vehicle (plates can be transferred to another vehicle, but not to another owner).
  • Sign in the seller’s section of the reverse side of the title and give it to the buyer, along with a bill of sale including the following information:
    • Buyer’s name and address;
    • Date of sale;
    • Mileage odometer reading (see below); and
    • Sale price.
    • Sign in the buyer’s section on the reverse side of the title and insert their driver’s license or Entity Identification Number(EIN-formerly Corpcode).
    • Visit a motor vehicle agency to transfer the title, complete the Vehicle Registration Application (Form BA-49) if applicable, and receive the license plates.
      • What to bring to the agency if you need to title and register a vehicle that was:

      Transfer of title upon death of owner

      A vehicle registered in the name of a decedent may be operated for 30 days after the date of death. All documents must be brought to a motor vehicle agency or full service agency to complete the transaction.

      If the title is in both the husband and wife’s name:

      • Submit the old title, a copy of the death certificate and a notarized Affidavit (Form BA-62)
      • The $60 title fee will apply (the existing registration can be transferred for an additional $4.50). If the vehicle was left in a will:
        • Submit the old title properly assigned by the executor of the estate and a Surrogate’s Short Certificate
        • Pay the $60 title fee (the existing registration can be transferred to an immediate member of the family for $4.50)

        To transfer ownership to the estate

        • Apply for a Entity Identification Number (EIN – formerly CorpCode).
        • Once received, bring the EIN, the old title, the Surrogate’s Short Certificate, and your driver’s license as proof of identification to a motor vehicle agency.
        • Pay the $60 title fee (or $85 for a financed vehicle title fee)
        • In addition, a new registration and proof of New Jersey insurance in the estate name is necessary if the vehicle will be operated.

        If the owner dies without a will

        • Where there is a surviving spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner and the estate does not exceed $50,000
          • Present the current title along with an Affidavit of Surviving Spouse/Domestic Partner/Civil Union Partner, which must include the raised seal of the County Surrogate, of the county where the decedent lived at the time of death. An original death certificate and a notarized MVC Affidavit (Form BA-62) are also required.
          • Present the current title with an Affidavit of Next of Kin, which must include a raised seal of the County Surrogate, of the county where the decedent lived at the time of death.
          • The title can be transferred to the surviving spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, heir or buyer by presenting the old title properly assigned and executed by the Administrator of the estate, along with an Administrator’s Short Certificate, which must include the raised seal of the County Surrogate, of the county where the decedent lived at the time of death.

          The MVC accepts American Express® card, Visa® card, MasterCard®, Discover card®, check, money order or cash.

          Take the required documents below to your county motor vehicle office. You will need to pay the vehicle title fees, registration fees and any applicable sales tax.

          • Proof of Insurance (If registering the vehicle at the same time),
          • Secure and Verifiable Identification,
          • The current title or other ownership documents properly endorsed by the previous owner,
          • Odometer disclosure complete,
          • A bill of sale for sales tax purposes,
          • If a lien is to be recorded, an acceptable mortgage document (security agreement) must be provided. The mortgage document must be an original, carbon copy, or a certified copy and must contain vehicle description – year, make, vehicle identification number or VIN, lienholder’s name and address, lien amount, and owner’s signature.

          More than 1 Vehicle Owner
          If there is more than one owner of the vehicle, all owners are required to declare their intent to have the Certificate of Title issued in Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship. This may be accomplished by completing the Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship Acknowledgement of Intent form located within the Title and/or Registration Application.

          Vehicle Titled in Another State or Titled for the First Time in CO

          • If the vehicle was titled in another state, a Verification of Vehicle Identification Number form is required to be completed by either:
            • A Colorado law enforcement officer
            • A licensed Colorado motor vehicle dealer
            • A licensed Colorado emissions testing station
            • If weight is not shown on one of the above listed documents, a certified weight slip is required

            More than 1 Vehicle Owner
            If there is more than one owner of the vehicle, all owners are required to declare their intent to have the Certificate of Title issued in Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship. This may be accomplished by completing the Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship Acknowledgement of Intent form located within the Title and/or Registration Application.

            Your Colorado title will be mailed to you when there are no liens filed against your vehicle. If there is a lien, the title will be mailed to the lienholder. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.

            After becoming a Colorado resident, you have within 90 days to register your vehicle. Effective January 1, 2010 all states are required to comply with Federal Law 28 CFR Part 25, National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). The purpose is to protect states, individuals, and commercial consumers from motor vehicle title fraud. In order to comply with this Federal requirement, the ability to print a title over the counter by the County Motor Vehicle Office (same day title) has been disabled for all title applications with an out-of-state title as the supporting document. The Colorado Certificate of Title will be processed and mailed by the State Title Section. If your vehicle was titled in another state, fill out the Verification of Vehicle Identification Number form, completed by either:

            A Colorado law enforcement officer

            A licensed Colorado motor vehicle dealer

            A licensed Colorado emissions testing station

            Please contact the State Title Section at 303-205-5608 for additional information

            Lien filing is handled at the county motor vehicle office in the county where the vehicle is located. Lien extensions are processed at the local county clerk’s office. Lien filing is for ten years except for multipurpose trailers, trailer coaches, truck tractors, manufactured homes and motor homes that are subject to maturity dates designated by the lienholder.