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HTVR 18

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How To: Change a Legal Owner Only (HTVR 18)

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The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) cannot remove the legal owner until the proper documents and fees are submitted or the legal owner releases interest electronically.

You Will Need:

  • A California Certificate of Title or an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227).
  • To pay a transfer fee

You May Also Need:

  • A notarized Lien Satisfied/Title Holder Release (REG 166)—May be used in lieu of the legal owner’s releasing signature on the California Certificate of Title or on an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) for vehicles three model years and older.

Change of Legal Owner Only

A change of only the legal owner (also known as a lienholder) for a vehicle/vessel may occur when a lien (loan)has been paid off or when the legal owner has changed and the registered owner remains the same (for example, when a car is refinanced).


Note: A legal owner is someone holding a security interest in a vehicle or vessel.


How to Remove the Legal Owner From Your Certificate of Title

To have the legal owner’s name removed, you must submit the Certificate of Title and a transfer fee to DMV.
The legal owner must release the lien on the Certificate of Title by signing on line 2.If your address has changed and has not been updated with DMV, line out your old address on the title and legibly write your new address next to it. DMV will issue a new Certificate of Title and registration card to the registered owner.

The Certificate of Title Was Lost, Stolen, Illegible, Mutilated, or Not Received Before Removing the Legal Owner

When the California Certificate of Title was lost, stolen, illegible, mutilated, or not received before removing the legal owner and:

  • The vehicle is two model years old or newer— A duplicate Certificate of Title must first be obtained by submitting a completed Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG227) and a duplicate title fee to DMV. The person who has knowledge of the disposition of the Certificate of Title must complete the “Missing Title Statement of Facts” section (if illegible or mutilated is marked, the damaged Certificate of Title must accompany the duplicate request). A new Certificate of Title will be issued to the legal owner of record. The legal owner releases the lien on the new Certificate of Title by signing on line 2 and forwarding the Certificate of Title to the registered owner. The Certificate of Title and transfer fee must be submitted to DMV to remove the legal owner. A Lien Satisfied/Title Holder Release (REG 166) willnot be accepted. A new Certificate of Title and registration card will be issued to the registered owner.
  • The vehicle is three model years old or older or it is a vessel regardless of model year— A completed Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227), a duplicate title fee,and a transfer fee must be submitted to DMV to remove the legal owner. The legal owner’s releasing signature on the form must be notarized and the person who has knowledge of the disposition of the Certificate of Title must complete the “Missing Title Statement of Facts” section (if illegible or mutilated is marked, the damaged Certificate of Title must accompany the duplicate request). A notarized Lien Satisfied/Title Holder Release (REG 166) can be submitted in lieu of the legal owner’s release on the REG 227 form. A new Certificate of Title and registration card will be issued to the registered owner.

You Are Paying Off Your Loan and the Legal Owner Participates in DMV’S Electronic Lien and Title (ELT) Program

Legal owners that participate in DMV’s ELT program will have an electronic record. When you make the final payment on your loan, the legal owner submits an electronic release to DMV. Make sure your mailing address on DMV’s record and your legal owner’s record is current before making the final payment. When the electronic release is received, DMV will issue a new Certificate of Title and registration card showing the registered owner as the sole owner.

You Are Making Payments and Want to Refinance With a New Legal Owner

When you are making payments for your vehicle/vessel and want to refinance with a different legal owner, there are two ways that this can be accomplished. Choose one of the following methods based on whether your current legal owner is an ELT program participant:

  • Non-ELT Participant—The current legal owner must release the lien on the Certificate of Title by signing on line 2 and forwarding the title to the new legal owner. The new legal owner’s name and address must appear on the designated lines on the back of the title and be initialed by the person entering the information. The new legal owner will submit the Certificate of Title and a transfer fee to DMV to record the change. DMV will either issue a new Certificate of Title to the new legal owner, (if the legal owner is not an ELT participant) or an electronic record (if the legal owner is an ELT participant). A new registration card will be issued to the registered owner.
  • ELT Participant—The current legal owner will have an electronic record. They will submit an electronic release to DMV when the loan is paid off and a new legal owner is requested. DMV will issue either an electronic record to the new legal owner, (if the new legal owner is an ELT participant) or a Certificate of Title (if the legal owner is not an ELT participant). A new registration card will be issued to the registered owner.

You Have the Certificate of Title and Want to Refinance Your Vehicle/Vessel

When you have the Certificate of Title for a vehicle/vessel and it is being refinanced, the legal owner must release the lien on the Certificate of Title by signing on line 2(if there is no legal owner, the registered owner must sign on line 2 to release the lien). DO NOT sign on line 1 if the registered owner(s) remains the same. Forward the Certificate of Title to the new legal owner. The new legal owner's name and address must appear on the designated lines on the back of the title and be initialed by the person entering the information. The legal owner will submit the Certificate of Title and a transfer fee to DMV to record the change. DMV will issue either a new Certificate of Title to the new legal owner(if the legal owner is not an ELT participant) or an electronic record (if the legal owner is an ELT participant). A new registration card will be issued to the registered owner.

You Cannot Find the Legal Owner

If you cannot find the legal owner of your vehicle/vessel: your financial institution may have moved, gone out of business, merged with another institution, or changed its name. If you have difficulty locating the legal owner to obtain a release, try the Financial Institution Listing on DMV’s website at www.dmv.ca.gov/about/lob/lob_top.htm.
If the listing shows the financial institution as "Closed" or "No Information Available", if you cannot find your financial institution on the list, or you would like more information about the listing, see the Financial Institution Listing Facts on DMV’s website at www.dmv.ca.gov/about/lob/lob_faq.htm.

Fees

For registration fees, see the brochure, Registration Related Fees (FFVR 34).

HTVR 18 (REV. 06/2012)

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