buying a car? what you need to know.

Please note that this page is only intended to offer basic guidelines. There are multiple rules and factors that go into title transactions, and there is no way to account for every situation in one article.

To transfer a title and registration in Arizona you must have the following items:

  • A signed and notarized (if applicable) vehicle title
  • A lien release (if applicable)
  • All applicable title and registration fees
  • Any other documents that apply (e.g, original or certified copy of power of attorney, personal representative papers, etc.)

Titles Held by One Owner:

Are you buying a vehicle from a private owner? The first thing to do would be to make sure that the owner releases interest in the vehicle on the title. Some states will require this signature to be notarized, others will not.

  • Arizona always requires a notary on titles issued in state, but will abide by the issuing state’s rules for titles held outside of Arizona.

Is the owner deceased? Extenuating circumstances notwithstanding, the title can be transferred via:

  • A non-probate affidavit, if deceased person’s estate did not go through probate. (The affiant will have to take title first).
  • Probate. In this case the personal representative will have to sign on behalf of the deceased, and a certified copy of the personal representative papers must be present at the time of the transaction.
  • Is the vehicle in a trust? Skip ahead to the “Titles Held by a Trust” section.

Titles Held by Multiple Owners:

On an Arizona title with multiple owners, the names are separated by what is called a “Legal Status.” This determines which signatures will be required when selling the vehicle or when taking other actions against the vehicle. There are 3 options to choose from:

  1. OR”– Either party can sign at any time without the other being present in order to receive a duplicate title, transfer ownership or sell.
  2. AND”– Both parties’ signatures will need to be present when doing title transactions. This form of ownership comes with no rights to survivorship.

                Upon the death of one of the owners, the vehicle will need to either go through probate or a non-probate affidavit will need to be                                    submitted. If the vehicle goes through probate, the personal representative must sign the title, and a certified copy of the personal                                  representative papers must be present at the time of the transaction.

  1. AND/OR”– The same rules for the “AND” legal status apply during the life of the owners but withrights to survivorship. Upon the death of one the owners a death certificate is equivalent to a signature and no probate action would be needed.

Other states have different rules regarding “Legal Status.” Before purchasing a vehicle from out of state, it is important to familiarize yourself with that state’s rules in order to make sure that you have all of the signatures that you need. Sometimes one signature is enough, sometimes all of the owners will need to sign.

Please note: As previously mentioned, some states will require a notary, some will not. Always check the title for a notary section, to be sure.

Titles Held by a Business:

Are you purchasing a vehicle from a business, non-profit, or similar organization? In order to release interest in the vehicle, the signer must provide the buyer with documentation proving that they had the right to sign for the organization. This could take the form of:

  • A printout from the business’s public corporation commission page listing the signer’s name
  • A business card containing the signer’s name
  • A letter on company letterhead giving the signer permission to sign

This rule applies regardless of the state that the vehicle originated from.

Titles Held by a Trust:

Purchasing a vehicle held by a trust? Check to see if the trustee(s) is listed on the title. If so, the trustee can release interest as if they were a private owner. If the vehicle is solely held by a trust then a trustee signature will still be required. However, a certificate of trust, or a certified copy of the trust documents must be present in order to complete the transaction.

Titles Held by a Dealership:

Titles held by a dealership do not require a notary, as long as the agent’s signature and dealership number are present.

Please note: If you purchase a vehicle from an out of state dealership, sales tax may be charged.

  • For this reason, you must bring in an invoice/pink slip, in addition to the title/accompanying paperwork.

ADDITIONAL THINGS TO CONSIDER:

1. Does the vehicle have any liens on it?

  • All states handle this differently. On Arizona titles, if the lien is recorded electronically and is less than 12 years old, it must be lifted electronically by the lienholder. Otherwise, there may be other options available to you.

2. Does the vehicle have and brands on it?

  • If the title says SALVAGE or DISMANTLE you will NOT be able to legally drive the vehicle until it receives a level 2 or 3 inspection from the state.

3. Has the vehicle been stolen?

  • You can check the TheftAZ website to find out! If the vehicle comes up stolen, do not take matters into your own hands! Politely decline the sale, walk away and contact law enforcement.

4. Does the vehicle need emissions?

How much can I expect to pay in registration fees?

At any point in the transaction, is anyone signing by Power of Attorney?

  • If so, then the original notarized POA documents, or a certified copy, must be present at the time of the transaction.

If you have any additional questions about your transaction feel free to visit one of our locations! One of our talented processors will be happy to assist you.