When someone wants to sell their car in the state of Louisiana, they, and the buyer, must provide information to the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) by completing various forms and paying applicable transfer fees to complete the sale. When buying a used car from a private seller, the buyer may choose to get it inspected by a third party before concluding a sale. Doing this may ensure that they don't buy a lemon. The sale isn't complete until the buyer takes the paperwork and fees to their local OMV office and registers the car in their name.
Third-Party Inspection for Buyers
Often, buyers interested in purchasing a car from a private seller want to inspect it beforehand. A third party – usually a licensed mechanic of the buyer's choice – will conduct the inspection. The buyer usually pays for this, but both parties must agree on the inspection logistics. If there are no issues with the car, the seller should keep a record of the report.
According to Auto Trader, there is no legal requirement for a pre-purchase inspection in Louisiana by the OMV, so there are no forms that a buyer needs to show regarding inspections. Nevertheless, a pre-purchase inspection is a good idea when buying a car from a private seller.
Organizing Vehicle-Related Documents
Before selling their car, the owner should gather the owner's manual, maintenance records and any additional paperwork related to it in one place. The more detailed records the owner has, the more it helps to show a potential buyer that they have done their best to maintain the vehicle. Sellers may also want to give a CarFax or AutoCheck report to the buyer during the transaction.
The certificate of title is the most critical document when selling a car – if there is a lien on the car title, the lender must release their interest in it before the owner sells the vehicle. This occurs when the seller pays off the car or the lender writes a letter stating their release of the lien. Sellers who can't pay off the vehicle can submit a lien release statement to their lender using the OMV's Vehicle Application form, with $68.50, plus an additional $8 in processing fees. The processing fees may vary from office to office.
Notice of Transfer of Vehicle
Louisiana requires sellers to report their sold, donated or traded vehicles with the OMV, as the agency immediately flags the vehicle's disposition to another owner. The seller must fill out a Notice of Transfer of Vehicle containing:
- Vehicle's license plate number.
- Vehicle's current registration expiration date.
- Vehicle identification number, or VIN.
- Driver's license number or company EIN.
- Buyer's contact information, including name and address.
- Date the seller sold, donated or traded the vehicle.
- Selling price of the vehicle.
If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, the seller will also need to fill out and submit an Odometer Disclosure Statement to the OMV. This form requires signatures and other information from both parties. It shows that they both agree on the vehicle's mileage during the transaction. A completed sale does not actually occur until the new owner brings the title and additional paperwork and fees to the OMV and registers the car in their name.
Louisiana Title Transfer Process
A lost, stolen or badly damaged title does not impede a car's sale. A seller can get a duplicate title from the OMV by filling out a Vehicle Application form and checking off the Duplicate Title Affidavit section on the form. To get the duplicate, they must pay a $68.50 fee, plus the processing fee. Both the buyer and seller fill out the sections that pertain to them on the back of the title, including their legal names, additional contact information and signatures. They must also include the sale date, odometer reading and purchase price.
Filling out the vehicle title clearly makes it easier and quicker to transfer ownership and get new plates. Louisiana requires the seller to sign over the title in the presence of a notary; they can find a notary in their area through the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office. After filling out the title, the buyer takes it, with proof of insurance, their license and applicable fees to a local OMV office where the transfer will take place.
Removing the License Plates
Before transferring ownership of a vehicle, the seller must remove the plates. Not doing this leaves them liable for any violations the buyer may incur. The seller can cancel the plates using the OMV's online cancellation portal once they complete the sale.
The seller has the option to destroy the plates, physically return them to their local OMV office, or mail them to the Office of Motor Vehicles, P.O. Box 64886, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70896. They must also remember to cancel their car insurance once the sale occurs.
Process When Inheriting a Vehicle
Sellers who wish to gift or transfer an auto title to a relative or family member will follow the same process as they would for any buyer. However, inheriting a vehicle is a little more complex. A person receiving a vehicle inheritance must give the OMV a copy of the deceased person's will, a copy of their death certificate and fill out an Affidavit of Heirship.
If the heir is a surviving spouse who sells the car to someone else, that buyer will need to complete part of the form, but only the spouse executes a notarized bill of sale or act of donation. This transfer of title costs $68.50, plus processing fees.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.