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Florida Car Title - Important Things to Know

By Autolist Staff | June 3, 2019

Are you buying a car in Florida? Maybe you're moving to Florida and transferring the certificate of title from another state. You might want to change the name on your vehicle title because you just got married. In any of these situations, you need to understand all the regulations. Fortunately, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, or DHSMV, is ready to help you handle all the paperwork. Take a look at some of the main questions involved with the transfer of ownership and car title to understand just what your Florida car title transaction requires.

When Do You Need to Transfer or Apply for a Car Title in Florida?

Head to the Florida motor vehicle department when you want to complete the following transactions:

  • You're buying a motor vehicle from a private party
  • You're selling a motor vehicle to a private party
  • You've inherited a motor vehicle
  • You've changed your name
  • You've just moved to Florida and have brought a motor vehicle that is registered in another state
  • You've moved within the state of Florida, changing your address
  • You want to donate a motor vehicle that you own for charitable purposes

What's Involved in Applying for a Certificate of Title in Florida?

You need to apply for a certificate of title in your name every time you purchase a motor vehicle or bring a vehicle into the state. To apply for the title, you must show proof of ownership.

Also, you need proof of insurance coverage within Florida. If you're moving from another state, you'll have to transfer your car insurance to a Florida insurance agent before you can apply for title. To prove that you have auto insurance, the DHSMV will accept several documents. These include a copy of your Florida insurance policy, an insurance binder, a Florida auto insurance card, your certificate of insurance, or a completed affidavit that you've signed.

Start by completing the title application form. As part of the process, you'll have to transfer your in-state license plate or purchase a new license plate if you're moving your vehicle into Florida. The title application form will ask if there's a lien on the vehicle. If you've financed the car and the loan isn't yet paid off, answer that question with Yes. Also, you'll have to pay the required title fees, auto registration fees, and any sales tax due.

You don't have to go to the DHSMV to take care of your application for a certificate of title. Every county in Florida is home to tax and license plate agencies. Any of them can handle your paperwork. Some tax collector offices will even expedite your application for a small fee.

If you're transferring ownership of a moped, a trailer that weighs less than 1,999 pounds, or a motorized bicycle, you don't need to apply for title.

Once you've filed all the paperwork and paid all the applicable fees, you should get your certificate of title within five business days.

What Forms Do You Need When Buying or Selling a Car?

When you're transferring title from one motor vehicle owner to another, you should make sure you have the following required forms completed. That is true whether you're buying or selling.

  • The Transfer Section of the Existing Title. If you don't have a paper title certificate, order one from the DHSMV either in advance of the transaction or while you're completing the transfer.
  • Form HSMV 82040. This required form contains all the information needed to complete the transfer.
  • Bill of Sale. If you're selling a motor vehicle, you must provide a complete bill of sale to your buyer. It's a good idea to have the document notarized, but notarization is not required. If you're the buyer, make sure you receive this document, which should include the purchase price, the odometer reading, and any information about existing liens or lien satisfaction.
  • Payment. That isn't the payment for the vehicle itself. Instead, it's the fees required to get your electronic or paper title from the DHSMV, plus the necessary costs to register your vehicle and the fees required if you need a new license plate.
  • Insurance Affidavit. It is known as Form HSMV 83330, which is required to verify that the car is insured. You need to file this form if you're buying a vehicle, and you'll need your proof of insurance to have this form accepted.

If you're the buyer, you should also receive a lien satisfaction document from the seller, if one exists. This document proves that the seller has paid off any loan on the vehicle so that you know you're getting a title that's free of any liens.

Once you've gathered and completed all these forms, take them (along with all required payments and proofs) to the tax collector's office. As the buyer, you should choose the tax collector in the county where you intend to register your new vehicle. If you're the seller, while technically you've completed everything you need to do, you may want to accompany the buyer to the tax collector's office to make sure the entire process is completed correctly.

How Is the Vehicle Identification Number Involved in Transferring Car Title?

When you apply for a Florida car title or vehicle registration for a car that was previously registered in another state, the DHSMV needs to verify that the vehicle identification number, or VIN, is the same as the number shown on your proof of ownership document.

Several officials are authorized to conduct the physical inspection involved in verifying the vehicle identification number. These include any law enforcement officer, an employee of the county tax collector office, any licensed motor vehicle dealer, or a Division of Motor Vehicle Compliance Examiner. Any of these officials may fill out Form HSMV 82042, which verifies the VIN. Pick up this form at the tax collector's office.

No VIN verification is required if you're buying a new motor vehicle that's licensed in Florida. Also exempt from VIN verification are travel trailers (including camp trailers and fifth-wheel trailers), truck campers and mobile homes.

Is It Possible to Get a Duplicate Florida Car Title?

Yes. If you need to replace your motor vehicle certificate of title for any reason (you've lost it, it was damaged or destroyed, etc.), go to the tax collector's office to get an Application for Duplicate Title. You can also download the form, which must be submitted to the county tax collector's office.

To receive your duplicate car title, you'll need proof of your identity, plus proof of lien satisfaction (if you want a lien-free title). You'll also have to pay the applicable Florida title transfer fees.

By following all the rules for the transfer of title, you can make sure you comply with all relevant Florida statutes, and completing and filing your application for a title can go smoothly.

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