Next to buying a home, purchasing a new or used vehicle is one of the biggest investments most of us will make.

You’ve done your homework, found just the right vehicle, now what? Are you purchasing from a licensed dealer? If so, much of the paperwork will be prepared for you.

How should ownership be listed on the title? Legal Status will be important in determining who will need to be present and sign documents related to your new vehicle.

This is important and often confusing as the Legal Status is not the same in every state. If you are taking out a loan for your purchase, your lien holder or bank may require a specific Legal Status.

“OR” Legal Status

This ownership is a joint tenancy- either of the owners has full authority to transfer ownership of the vehicle, license plates and/or fees, or to record loan information. The owners’ names will appear on the title as in this example: JOHN DOE OR JANE DOE.

To transfer ownership of the vehicle, license plates and/or fees, or to record loan information, the signature of either party will be accepted. Both signatures are not required. If this legal status is chosen, all owners involved must sign in the Legal Status section.

“AND” Legal Status

This ownership is a tenancy in common. The owners’ names will appear on the title as in this example: JOHN DOE AND JANE DOE.

To transfer ownership of the vehicle, license plates and/or fees, or to record loan information, the signatures of both parties will be required. In the event of the death of either party, the interest of the deceased party must be handled by probate action, or by completing a Non-probate Affidavit.

“AND/OR” Legal Status

This ownership is a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. The owners’ names will appear on the title as in this example: JOHN DOE AND/OR JANE DOE.

To transfer ownership of the vehicle, license plates and/or fees, or to record loan information, the signatures of both parties will be required, if both are living. Upon proof of death, the survivor may sign alone.

Plate Credit

If you have recently sold a vehicle, you may have a Plate Credit that can be applied to your new vehicle registration.

Remember: Whenever you sell or release ownership of a vehicle YOU KEEP THE PLATE and may have some money/credit left over. If you do not want to apply this credit to a new vehicle, you may request a refund (minus small processing fee).

VERY IMPORTANT: Submit a SOLD NOTICE IMMEDIATELY. This will help ensure any violations, fines, or citations attributed to that vehicle AFTER THE SALE will not come back to haunt you.

Private Party Sales

If you are buying a vehicle from a private party try and arrange the sale in a public place, preferably at one of our offices during business hours. This way, all parties are present to sign required paperwork and all documents can be verified.

With private party sales, you have 15 days to apply for a new certificate of title. When a vehicle is sold or transferred, the registration for that vehicle IS NO LONGER VALID, so any used vehicle that you purchase has an expired registration. You may not operate the vehicle until it is registered or until you purchase a Restricted Use 3-Day Permit.

Have more questions? Call us or come in and see us at one of our six locations in Mesa, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Tucson, Show Low and we are growing. We provide vehicle services for individualsdealers, and fleets in a professional manner that is always convenient for our customers. When you visit Desert Title & Tag, you can forget waiting in line for hours to get simple MVD procedures completed. Our comfortable offices and friendly staff ensure you never have to dread the normal ‘MVD experience’ again!