Buy or sell a vehicle (transfer ownership)

 This page was updated for COVID-19.

How to transfer vehicle ownership

Determine exactly what you need before you buy a vehicle

Use DMV’s Document Guide to make sure you get all documents you need from a seller so that you can register your vehicle in New York.

Find your proofs for registration


In general, when transferring ownership...

The seller must either

  • complete and sign the transfer ownership section of the title certificate, and
  • sign a bill of sale (even if it is a gift)


The buyer must


Proof of ownership

The proofs of ownership needed to register and title a vehicle in New York are different for different types of vehicles (for example, cars, trailers, boats, snowmobiles, manufactured homes). 

How to register the vehicle

See information for how to register a vehicle you bought (or received as a gift). 

You must register the vehicle at a DMV office or by mail. You cannot do this over the phone, or online. 

Office procedures have changed due to COVID-19.

We recommend you conduct your DMV business at the office or by mail in the County where you are a resident.

See instructions and reservation information for your county


Additional information

Changing names

You cannot change the name on the vehicle registration or the title certificate to the name of another person. You must transfer the ownership of the vehicle.


Flood damage

You can check the National Insurance Crime Bureau database to see if a vehicle is flood damaged. You will need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).


Tips for buying a vehicle

Read the DMV brochures, Let the Buyer Be Aware, and Q&A About Your Title Certificate.