Take a survey: Tell us how we're doing!

Transfer ownership when buying from a dealer

How to transfer ownership

If you buy a vehicle from a dealership, they’ll complete the paperwork to transfer ownership into your name for you.

  • You’ll need to present your unexpired Washington 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.

What to do if the dealer goes out of business

We can’t provide legal advice, but the following suggestions may help you resolve matters about transferring title and registration when a Washington State dealer has gone out of business.

File a complaint

You may file a complaint against a dealer if you:

  • Paid for a vehicle (not financed it) and the dealer didn’t give you the vehicle title.
  • Finished making payments on a vehicle but the dealer didn’t release the vehicle 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

To file a complaint:

  • Call us at 360.664.6466.
  • or
  • Complete a Vehicle Dealers and Manufacturers Complaint Form following the instructions on the form. Please include copies of the following documents with your complaint:
    • The purchase agreement.
    • A phone number where you can be reached.
    • Proof of payments:
      • If paid by check, copies of the front and back of the canceled checks.
      • If paid by cash, a receipt from the dealer showing that the vehicle has been paid in full.
    • Your copy of the title application. (The application must include the legal owner of record if the vehicle was financed through a lending institution.)
    • Any contact information for the dealer.
    • Any documentation of your attempts to obtain the vehicle title or release of interest.

After we receive your complaint

We’ll review the complaint to determine if there is enough documentation to finish transferring 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 will be issued a title.

Washington Healthcare Finder
Access Washington – official state government website