A vehicle owner in the state of Louisiana who wants to transfer title to a new owner needs to complete the Notice of Vehicle Transfer form found on the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) website. The OMV is analogous to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in other states. The owner needs certain information to complete the form, including the license plate number of the vehicle; the expiration date shown on the vehicle’s current registration; the vehicle identification number (VIN); driver’s license number or company Employer Identification Number (EIN) as shown on the vehicle registration; name and address of the buyer; date the vehicle was sold, donated or traded; and the selling price of the vehicle, if applicable. The vehicle will not be legally transferred until the new owner makes a proper application for title and pays the transfer fees.
What a Seller Must Do to Transfer Ownership
The seller should complete the Notice of Vehicle Transfer form on the OMV’s website. This ensures that the seller is no longer liable for the vehicle. A seller who wants to effect a title transfer should complete all fields on the title, including mileage, selling price and date of sale from the bill of sale. The seller should give the buyer a lien release if another entity, like a bank, has an ownership interest in the vehicle.
The seller should also complete an odometer disclosure statement. OMV clarifies on its website when an odometer disclosure statement is needed. The seller should remove and destroy the license plate from the vehicle if the vehicle is a standard automobile. If the vehicle is a truck or trailer, those plates can stay with the vehicle for transfer to the new owner. The seller can also surrender the plate to their local OMV office or send it to the central OMV office in Baton Rouge. A special prestige license plate may be kept by the seller.
What a Buyer Must Do for Transfer of Vehicle
A buyer of a used car who wants to be sure that a valid title transfer has taken effect must make sure the seller has completed all fields on the back of the title, including the mileage, sale price and date of sale. The seller must have signed the vehicle over to the buyer, and the document showing this must be notarized. The buyer must complete the vehicle application form (DPSMV 1799), and get an odometer disclosure statement from the seller.
The buyer should purchase insurance for the vehicle and ask for a lien release if a party other than the seller has an ownership interest in the vehicle. The buyer should note the name and address of the seller, the date of sale and vehicle information, including the VIN.
A buyer must pay sales tax on a motor vehicle purchased within Louisiana by the 40th day following the date of sale. The buyer may engage in registration and payment of taxes and fees through the retail dealer, if the vehicle is purchased from a dealer, or to the OMV. Sales taxes for motor vehicles purchased outside of Louisiana, for use in the state, are payable by the 30th day after the vehicle first enters Louisiana.
Concerns Regarding Transfer of Certificate of Title
If the vehicle owner gets an error message that says "vehicle not eligible" when completing the Notice of Vehicle Transfer form, this means the vehicle was probably already titled in the new owner’s name. When an individual wants to report that the vehicle was a lease-end trade-in, they should mail that information to the central OMV office in Baton Rouge. Owners should also report if a vehicle was a total loss in an accident or was transferred to an insurer. There is no refund for a license plate with remaining years of validity.
Donating a Vehicle
When an individual wants to gift, or donate, a vehicle to a friend or family member, they must do so before a notary in the presence of two witnesses. A donation is an authentic act that allows the transfer of the ownership without a monetary exchange. Typically, a vehicle donation is tax-free. The person getting the vehicle needs only to pay title, registration and plate fees. The donor should use the form for Act of Donation of a Movable.
Certificate of Destruction
A motor vehicle may be a total loss because of water damage. The insurer acquiring ownership of the vehicle must send the title certificate and application for Certificate of Destruction to the OMV within 30 days of settling the claim. A Certificate of Destruction is a specific type of title issued for water-damaged vehicles with computer systems that have been damaged by flood as a result of gubernatorial-declared disasters or emergencies.
Louisiana Title in Name of Deceased
The surviving spouse, heirs and legatees of a deceased person may obtain title to a vehicle owned by the deceased person. The first step is for the person who wants to gain title to apply for a title to the vehicle. The person should attach to the application a copy of the death certificate or other proof of death acceptable to the OMV. The person should also attach to the application a copy of the will or a notarized statement summarizing the disposition of vehicles contained in the will. The applicant should also attach the title and registration certificate of the vehicle to their application. If these are not available, they should include a declaration of that fact in an affidavit.
The applicant and other parties with an ownership interest in the vehicle should then execute an affidavit that contains a declaration establishing the relationship of each to the deceased person, a declaration of their knowledge or lack of knowledge of a will executed by the deceased person, and a declaration by each person other than the applicant that they are donating, selling or otherwise transferring to the applicant all ownership interest which they have in the vehicle. This last type of declaration consolidates the entire ownership interest in the vehicle to the applicant. The affidavits may be executed in multiple documents and shall be attached to the application.
Get a Duplicate Auto Title
A vehicle owner can get a duplicate title for a vehicle at their local OMV office or online through the OMV’s site on duplicate title. The owner should enter their license plate number, year of vehicle and the expiration date of the license plate. They should then confirm the record and pay the fee with a Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express-backed credit card. The transaction will not appear until the next business day. The owner should not attempt duplicate vehicle registration multiple times.
- Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles: Notice of Vehicle Transfer
- Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles: Vehicle Traded Frequently Asked Questions
- Louisiana Department of Insurance: Certificate of Destruction for Flooded Cars
- Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles: Policy 76.01, Certificate of Destruction
- Louisiana Department of Revenue: Motor Vehicle Sales Tax
- Louisiana Department of Public Safety: Act of Donation of a Movable
- Louisiana Revised Statutes: Section 707.1 Deceased Persons, Title to Vehicles
- Louisiana Department of Public Safety: Odometer Disclosure Statement
- Louisiana Department of Public Safety: Bill of Sale of a Movable
- Louisiana Department of Public Safety: Vehicle Application, DPSMV 1799
- Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles: How to Quickly Obtain a Duplicate Vehicle Registration
- Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles: Policy 80.00, Required Odometer Statements
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.