How to Transfer Ownership of a Car in Kentucky


Kentucky requires that every time a vehicle changes ownership, ownership is transferred to the new owner. This applies to the sale/purchase process, as well as vehicles that can be gifted to someone, as well as vehicles that are inherited. Ownership of a car is an important element of proof of ownership, and there are a few things you should know about transferring car ownership in Kentucky.

Buyers need to know

When you buy a car from a private seller, there are a few steps to follow. However, they are pretty straight forward. That being said, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet actually recommends that both the buyer and the seller go to the local county clerk's office together to streamline the process. If you and the seller cannot appear together, then the application should be notarized to make sure it is accepted. You also need to do the following:

  • Be sure to get the full title from the seller (the seller has filled in all applicable fields on the back).
  • Make sure the car is insured and have proof of coverage.
  • Be sure to complete an application for a certificate of ownership or registration in the State of Kentucky with the accompanying odometer disclosure.
  • Bring a photo ID.
  • Be sure to get a release from the bond from the seller.
  • Pay the transfer fee, as well as the sales tax (which depends on the purchase price). The cost of transferring ownership varies by county, so you will need to contact your county clerk's office.

Common mistakes

  • Do not get a release from the seller

Sellers need to know

There are a few things sellers need to know about how to transfer ownership of a car in Kentucky. The most important of these is that it is much easier to complete the process when you and the buyer can show up at the clerk's office together. You will also need:

  • Fill in the fields on the back of the header.
  • Provide the buyer with odometer information to be included in the transfer of ownership application.
  • Grant the buyer a release from the bond.

Common mistakes

  • Lack of notarization of the application

Donating and Inheriting Cars in Kentucky

If you are giving or receiving a car as a gift, you will need to go through the same process as for buyers and sellers. The recipient of the gift will be responsible for paying sales tax (even if there was no actual sale). For legacy vehicles, the process is handled by property management.

For more information on how to transfer ownership of a car in Kentucky, visit the State Department of Transportation website or call your county office.

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