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Transfer ownership when buying from a dealer

How to transfer ownership

If you buy a vehicle from a dealership, they'll transfer ownership into your name for you.

You'll need to show your unexpired WA driver license so they can register the vehicle in your name, unless you're exempt from getting a driver license under RCW 46.20.025.

How long does a dealer have to transfer title?

A dealer should transfer a vehicle's title within 45 days of the date of delivery. For more information please refer to the Buying a Vehicle guide.

What to do if a WA state car dealer goes out of business

We can't provide legal advice, but the following may help you resolve matters on transferring title and registration.

File a complaint

You may file against a dealer if you:

  • Paid for a vehicle (without financing) and the dealer didn't give you the title within 45 days of the date of delivery.
  • Finished making payments on a vehicle but the dealer didn't release the title to you.
  • Are in the process of making payments to the dealer for a vehicle but you can't locate the dealer.

How to file a complaint

Here are your options:

Complaint supporting documents

Provide as many of the supporting documents as possible to help us resolve your complaint:

  • Copy of purchase agreement.
  • Proof of payments – If paid by:
    • Check – copy front and back of the canceled check.
    • Cash – a receipt from the dealer showing that the vehicle has been paid in full.
  • Your copy of the title application. (It must show the legal owner of record if you financed it.)
  • Any documentation of your attempts to obtain the vehicle title or release of interest.

After we receive your complaint

We'll review it to see if there's enough information to transfer ownership to you. We may ask you for additional documentation, and we'll discuss all possible titling options at that time. Completing a complaint form doesn't guarantee you'll be issued a title.

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