Transfer ownership when buying from a dealer

Important information

  • Vehicle and vessel licensing offices can’t perform transactions on Saturday, December 10.
  • Vehicle and vessel online services won’t be available December 7-12 while we update our system.
  • On December 12, 2016, we’ll begin using a new vehicle and vessel computer system.
  • In the days following the launch of our new system, you may experience longer than usual wait times.

Learn more: DOL vehicle licensing system will be down on December 10 for system replacement (

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.

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 (not financed it) and the dealer didn’t give you the title.
  • 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

  • Call us: 360.664.6466.
  • or
  • Send a Vehicle Dealers and Manufacturers Complaint Form and include:
    • Your phone number.
    • 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 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 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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