Selling a car takes a little work, like getting it ready, finding a buyer, and legally transferring ownership. Although not very common, it’s possible to misplace, lose, or in some other way not have your car’s title. You may even have a damaged copy that you can’t rightly give to a buyer. In cases where you don’t have your vehicle title, it’s important to know the New Jersey laws about selling cars. Indeed, having the title is necessary to properly transfer during the sale, so let’s go over everything you need to know.
Can I Sell a Car in New Jersey Without a Title?
Since a car’s title details who owns the car and its general history, among other critical identifying details, it isn’t legal to sell a car without one. You need to pass the title on to the next buyer before any sale is legally recognized, since each car is supposed to have one title that displays the current owner or owners (if there is joint ownership).
What Is a Car Title?
The certificate of title is a document that details a car’s history and ownership. Vehicle titles differ by state, but they all contain vehicle information like the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), make, and year of production. For New Jersey car titles, mechanical data such as the vehicle weight and odometer mileage will be recorded as well, along with the license plate number, the owner’s name and location, and the purchase price.
What Could Happen If You Sell a Car in New Jersey Without a Title?
In some states, there are cases where it is possible to sell a car privately or to a dealership without the title, but not in New Jersey and many other states. There could be fines or other legal penalties if you are found to have sold a car without giving the title, without having it in the first place, or without transferring it properly to the seller.
What Is a Title Transfer?
Part of selling a car is transferring the title, which legally confirms that the car has a new owner. This involves the seller signing the title to release ownership. Then, the buyer presents the signed title to a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission office. There, the state will issue a new, updated title and registration. The buyer will have to complete a Vehicle Registration Application if the sale was private, and there is a $25 late fee if it isn’t done in 10 business days from the sale. A dealer will handle these details almost entirely for you.
How Do You Get a New Title for Your Car in New Jersey?
Since you’ll need to transfer a title to the new owner to sell a car, you’ll need to replace your New Jersey car title if you don’t have one anymore. You will have to schedule an appointment at an MVC office and complete the Universal Title Application form, either at the office or online beforehand. You’ll need to bring the following to your appointment:
- A current or expired registration card.
- Proof of insurance.
- The original title if it was damaged instead of lost.
There is a $60 fee for producing a replacement title in New Jersey, as long as the title has no lien on it. Vehicle title replacement costs $85 if the car has one lien, or $110 for two liens. The buyer will also have to pay the New Jersey transfer tax, although that doesn’t apply to the seller.
Tips to Sell Your Car in New Jersey Once You Have the Title
After you have a title ready to go, it’s time to put your car up for sale online or take it to a dealer. In general, besides getting the title, here are a few additional things you can do to ensure everything goes well.
Get a Notary
Notarizing a bill of sale is not required, but it’s a good practice in general. Having a state authority witness the signing over of ownership makes the transaction more official and can be useful legally.
Prepare a Bill of Sale
Some states require a bill of sale to sell a car, whereas with New Jersey it’s more of a useful bonus. A bill of sale form that you printed or picked up at an MVC office is preferable to a handwritten document. As a minimum, a car bill of sale should include the car’s year, make, model, and VIN. It could also include the price and sell date as well as your contact information.
Be Honest With Your Buyer
If you don’t have a title and are unable to obtain one, often the case with older cars, make sure the buyer is aware from the start. As long as you are honest and the lack of a title doesn’t come as a surprise, the buyer may be willing to wait until you have it.
Sell to a Trusted New Jersey Dealership
Finally, if you want the best results from selling your car in New Jersey, your best bet is to avoid the unpredictable private market. A well-equipped auto dealer can find you exactly what you’re looking for, whether that means a new car or more cash for your own. We strongly recommend working with us if you’re looking to sell your current car and get a newer model. We can get you fast Kelley Blue Book trade valuation, generous used car financing, and a broad selection of pre-owned luxury cars in Jersey City.
The direct answer to “Can I sell a car in New Jersey without a title?” is, “No, you can’t.” Legally, you are required to have your car’s title while owning it, and you must transfer it to whomever ends up selling it. To make selling your car as easy as possible, we recommend selling to a dealership with a top-rated inventory and financing department.
You can count on New Jersey State Auto for free vehicle history reports and other helpful tools during the car-buying and car-selling process. Our website makes it easy to conveniently search for pre-owned vehicles of varying makes and prices, so feel free to call, message, or visit.