Buying, selling, or leasing – Michigan Courts

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To own and operate a vehicle on public roads in Michigan, it must be registered with a valid license plate and tab, have an assigned vehicle title, and be insured under a valid Michigan No-Fault insurance plan. If you’re buying or selling a vehicle, these documents are essential for completing the transfer of ownership. 
When you purchase a vehicle, a new title will be issued to you for proof of ownership. Always keep your title in a safe place. Never keep it in your vehicle.

Be sure to review your title carefully for accuracy. If there are any errors, visit a Secretary of State office to correct your title.

If you ever sell your vehicle, you will need the title to transfer ownership to the new buyer.

Information about titles 
In addition to proof of Michigan No-Fault insurance, you must have a valid vehicle registration, tab, and license plate to own and operate your vehicle in Michigan. 

Information about license plates
You may request current ownership, a complete history, or a partial history of a vehicle for specified dates, if you have a legally valid reason for doing so
Vehicle records
Before buying a new or used vehicle, check to make sure that all equipment and options ordered have been included. If you’re buying a used vehicle, it’s also recommended that you have it inspected by a mechanic before purchasing it. 

The seller is required to give you the original vehicle title (not a photocopy) with the seller’s portion completed, an accurate odometer reading or disclosure statement, and their signature. If there is more than one owner on the title, all the owners must sign it before it can be transferred into your name. 

Additionally, the odometer reading entered by the seller and vehicle identification number (VIN) on the title match the vehicle’s odometer reading and VIN.

Note: Making changes, such as crossing out a name, invalidates the title. 
Whether you are buying your vehicle at a dealership, in a private sale, or from a family member, or if you are leasing, you will need the following to register your vehicle and drive it on public roads in Michigan:
Title transfer
When buying a new or used vehicle from a dealership, the dealer is responsible for:
By law, the dealer must give you a copy of each document when you sign it. Make sure to review all documents before you sign. 

The dealer should give you copies of your:
If you’re purchasing a used vehicle, the dealer must show you the previous owner’s title. Examine the title carefully. 

The dealer will also provide you with your new license plate and registration.
Most dealerships handle all paperwork, required documents, and collection of 6% sales tax, which means you won’t need to visit a Secretary of State office. If you have questions about your vehicle title and registration, contact your dealer first. 
If purchasing a vehicle from a private seller, you – as the buyer – and the seller are responsible for handling all required documents to transfer ownership of the vehicle. To transfer ownership of a vehicle you purchased in a private sale, you will need:
As soon as you purchase the vehicle, you will need to transfer the title within 15 days at a Secretary of State office. It is strongly recommended that you and the seller visit a Secretary of State office together to complete this step. 

If you don’t plan to complete the title transfer with the seller at a Secretary of State office:
At your visit, you will be issued a license plate, vehicle registration, and tab after paying all title and registration fees and payment for 6% sales tax. If you’d like to transfer a license plate from a vehicle you already own to your new vehicle, you may do so at the time of your visit. 
Once issued, immediately put your tab and license plate on your vehicle.
Your corrected title will be mailed to you or, if there’s a loan against the vehicle, your lienholder after your visit. If your lienholder is enrolled in the Electronic Lien and Title System (ELT), an electronic copy will be stored with the lienholder and the Michigan Department of State.
Schedule an office visit
Title transfer 
Plate transfer   
All of the conditions that apply when buying a vehicle from an individual in a private sale also apply when buying, inheriting, or being gifted a vehicle from a family member. 

However, 6% sales tax isn’t due with vehicle sales or transfers to certain relatives, including the seller’s:
You can also transfer a license plate to the above relatives during a vehicle sale. 

If the vehicle owner is deceased and their surviving relatives want to transfer ownership of the vehicle, the requirements for transferring the registration and title will vary. 

Schedule an office visit
Information about titles  
Plate transfer
If you purchased your vehicle outside of Michigan, you may convert the out-of-state title to a Michigan title and register the vehicle in Michigan. To do so, visit a Secretary of State office and provide the following:
If your title is being held by an out-of-state lienholder, provide the above documents and one of the following:
The Michigan Department of State can issue you a limited memo registration but will not convert it to a Michigan title. The out-of-state title will continue to be your ownership document.

Schedule an office visit 
Information about titles  
Vehicles that are purchased overseas must meet federal standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT). The Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) should indicate whether the vehicle was manufactured to meet these standards.

You can only import a vehicle from overseas if the vehicle meets the United States federal EPA and DOT standards and the transaction is conducted by a certified importer, who will convert the odometer reading to miles and arrange custom duties.
To import a vehicle that was manufactured for sale in the United States, you will need to provide:
If the vehicle wasn’t manufactured for sale in the U.S., you will also need to provide the following with a statement of compliance or waiver from each agency:
U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection Entry Summary (CPB-7501) 
When you trade-in your vehicle as part of the sale for a new or used vehicle at a dealership, the dealership will assess the value of your vehicle based on it condition. The price offered for it will be used to offset the price of the vehicle you are planning to purchase.

You can’t trade in your vehicle if there is a lien on your title. You will need a statement from the lienholder stating that the loan has been paid in full.
Before leaving the dealership, remember to remove the license plate from your old vehicle. If you decide to transfer your plate from your old vehicle to your new one, the dealer will complete the paperwork to register and title the vehicle and collect the necessary fees.
If you are selling a vehicle in a private sale or to a relative, you are responsible for the following:
Schedule an office visit
Duplicate title  
If you are selling your vehicle to salvage or scrap, your insurance company will determine the amount of damage to the vehicle.
Salvage Titles
A regular title will be replaced with a salvage title if your vehicle has become a “distressed vehicle.” A vehicle with a salvage title can’t be used on public roads until it is recertified by a specially trained police officer and retitled. 
A regular title will be replaced with a scrap title if your vehicle has one or more major component parts that have been wrecked, destroyed, damaged, stolen, or missing to the extent that the total estimated cost of repair is 91 percent or more of its pre-damaged value.  
Scrap vehicles cannot be re-titled or returned to the road using their existing vehicle identification number.

Information about titles
When you lease a vehicle, make sure all the terms of the lease are in writing, that you understand the terms of the lease and that you agree with the terms. Leasing may involve additional costs for excess mileage, early termination, or excess wear and tear.
When leasing a vehicle, you have the right to:
While leasing the vehicle, you may be responsible for:
Consumer’s Guide to Vehicle Leasing 
It is strongly recommended that you visit a Secretary of State office immediately after purchasing a vehicle in a private sale. However, per state law, you have 15 days to transfer the title after the date of the sale. A $15 late fee will be assessed if you transfer the vehicle title more than 15 days after the sale. 

Additionally, in Michigan, you don’t need a license plate to drive a newly purchased vehicle directly home within three days of purchase. 

Until you register your vehicle, keep the assigned title from the seller and proof of insurance with you whenever you’re driving. Don’t use a plate from another vehicle to drive a new vehicle home.

Schedule an office visit
A $15 title transfer fee is due at the time of transferring vehicle ownership. Unless already collected by a dealership, 6% sales tax will be due at the time of transferring the title. 

An additional $15 late fee is assessed if you transfer the vehicle title more than 15 days after its sale. 

Title transfer and vehicle registration 
Before you buy a vehicle, check to make sure the title has been properly completed by the seller. 

If the title is an orange color and shows “this vehicle was previously issued a salvage title,” the vehicle was previously issued a salvage title, probably due to vehicle damage. You are entitled to a salvage disclosure form from the dealer if the vehicle is under 8,000 pounds and less than six model years old, or over 8,000 pounds and less than 16 model years old.

When your title arrives in the mail, make sure that your information is correct. 

Before selling a vehicle, be sure to complete the seller’s portion and include your signature in the appropriate space. It is required that you check the vehicle mileage and report an accurate odometer reading. 
Personal information in driving and vehicle records is protected under The Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). It is a federal law designed to protect the personal information of licensed drivers from improper use or disclosure.
Under DPPA, all states are required to safeguard personal information in driving and vehicle records. Care must be taken in how the information for these requests are submitted because the records are retrieved by exactly matching the names and addresses as they were provided.
If you don’t have permission to access personal information in a record, it will be redacted or concealed in any records you do request.
To receive information about vehicle owners or vehicle registration and title histories, you must meet the requirements under the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and have a valid, permissible purpose to request the record information.
The following reasons are permissible reasons to obtain driver and vehicle information:
DPPA also makes it illegal to obtain record information for unlawful purposes or to make false representations in order to obtain such information.
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