Buying a vehicle from an individual

It is highly recommended that you and the seller go to a Secretary of State branch office to transfer the title and complete the vehicle purchase.

If you and the seller don’t go to a branch office, before you leave with the vehicle make sure:

  • The seller gives you the title. Making changes on a title, such as crossing out a name, invalidates it. Copies aren’t acceptable. The seller must complete the seller's portion of the title assignment, including the odometer disclosure statement, and sign it. If there is more than one owner on the title, make sure that all owners have signed it before you take it.
  • There is no outstanding loan against the vehicle. A title can’t be transferred until the vehicle loan is fully paid. A representative from the bank or financial institution that administered the loan must either have signed the title or provided the owner with a lien termination statement.
  • The odometer reading entered by the seller and vehicle identification number (VIN) on the title match the vehicle's odometer reading and VIN.

If you don’t complete the title transfer with the seller at a branch office, you have 15 days from the date of sale to transfer the title into your name to avoid a late fee.

You don’t need a license plate to drive a newly purchased vehicle directly home in Michigan within three days of purchase. Carry the assigned title and proof of insurance with you. Never use a plate from another vehicle as a substitute.