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How Can I Add My Spouse's Name To My Vehicle Title?
I want to add my wife's name on my California vehicle title. What's the best way of doing this?
Great question. Adding an owner to a vehicle title in California, whether it be a spouse or other family member is pretty simple. California considers adding or removing a registered owner from a vehicle title the same as selling the vehicle to a new party, except no smog inspection will be required and no Use Tax will be collected from the buyer. Note: California considers family members to be a spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild. You may not claim any other person(s) as a member of family.
To get the process started you'll need to have prepared two documents; the vehicle's certificate of title and a Statement of Facts form (REG 256). Complete the title filling in the buyer information as yourself and your spouse. Check out this helpful How To Transfer Title in California Guide. If the vehicle has a lien holder, you'll need to contact them first and obtain rewritten authorization. All parties listed on a car title are responsible for the bank loan. Typically lien holders have no problem adding a family member. If you don't have the vehicle's certificate of title or have lost it, you may download and complete a REG 227 (Application for Duplicate Title), and use it in lieu of the missing title. Both seller and buyer must complete and sign the REG 227 just as they would an actual title.
Assuming you have your vehicle's title in hand, begin by signing the front of the title on Line A. This releases interest/ownership of the vehicle to the parties(s) named on the back of the title, which you'll be filling in. Next, complete the odometer information section on the front lower portion of the title, and sign as both the seller and buyer. Note, the odometer section does not need to be filled-in if your vehicle is 10 years or older.
Complete the reverse side of the title with the new owners information; which will be yourself and your spouse. Ensure you both sign as registered owners. Make sure you pick the correct check box where it asks for an AND or OR for the registered owners names. If you check OR, either of you may sell the vehicle at any time, without the other's signature. If you choose AND, both registered owners must sign the title when selling in order to release interest/ownership.
Next, you'll need to download and complete a REG 256 (Statement of Facts). Visit our DMV Forms Download page. You'll need a REG 256 in order to claim smog check exemption and not pay California Use Tax. Complete section A of the Statement of Facts form (Use Tax Exemption), marking the Addition or Deletion of Family Member box. Next complete section B of the Statement of Facts (Smog Check Exemption), marking the transfer is occurring between family members. Sign page two of the REG 256. Either buyer may sign the REG 256. Ensure you write in your vehicle's license plate, vehicle identification number and year/make on the top of both page 1 and page 2 of the REG 256. This gets commonly missed.
And you're done. Visit the DMV and have your paperwork processed. You'll receive a new registration card with both your names, and a new California Certificate of Title will be sent to you by mail.
Note, you can also add your spouses name to your title without going to the DMV by using our Online Title Transfer System or visiting a local registration service provider office which will usually have no wait time.