Transfer of Ownership

Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-3-118, 55-3-119, 55-3-120


  • Each time the ownership of a vehicle changes, a new certificate of title must be issued, except for dealer to dealer transfers. This is referred to as an assignment or transfer of ownership of a vehicle. The certificate of title is delivered to the purchaser or transferee at the time of delivering the vehicle. Generally there are 3 types of transfer of ownership that takes place, individual to individual, individual to dealer or dealer to individual.


  • Identify the seller (transferor). The owner(s), on the front of the Title, must sign as the seller in the first "reassignment” section on the back of the Title.  
  • Identify the purchaser (transferee). The purchaser must sign as the purchaser, in the 1st “reassignment” space on the back of the title.
  • Is/Was there a Subsequent Buyer? If a dealer sells to an individual, that individual will be the person on the application for Title and Registration. If the dealer sells to another dealer, the transfer process will continue, using the reassignment spaces on the Title.
  • Are all Reassignment Fields full? When all reassignment spaces are filled, the next seller will need to use the “Title Extension Form”. 


For joint sellers:

  • "and" - When ownership of a motor vehicle, jointly owned by two (2) or more persons and joined by the conjunction "and" on the title, is transferred, the signatures of all persons listed as joint owners shall be required to transfer title.
  • "or" - Only one (1) party's signature shall be required to transfer a title to a motor vehicle if the title is registered in the name of multiple owners.
  • "and/or" - Some older Tenn. titles may contain the wording “and/or”. We will view this certificate of title as joined by the conjunction “or”. Meaning only one signature is required to transfer title to a third party. 

For joint buyers:

  • Regardless of conjunction, when a vehicle is purchased by more than 1 buyer, all parties signatures are required on the transfer of ownership document supporting the application.  


  • Any owner(s) desiring to transfer title to any motor vehicle coming within the title provisions, whose certificate of title is being held by a lienor, may, in lieu of executing the assignment provided on the reverse side of the certificate of title, execute and deliver to the transferee a separate bill of sale which shall show the name and address of the lienor in whose possession the certificate of title is being held.
  • An Odometer Disclosure Statement is also needed if the vehicle falls under the Truth in Mileage Act.
  • The transferee, before operating or permitting the operation of a transferred vehicle upon a highway, shall apply for and obtain a registration and apply for a certificate of title for the transferred vehicle.
  • When the transferee of a vehicle is a motor vehicle dealer who holds the same for resale and the title is held by a lienor, a secured power of attorney must be completed.
  • A motor vehicle dealer purchasing the vehicle does not have to re-title the vehicle. This is considered a sale for resale. Vehicle sales for resale between licensed dealers are referred to as reassignments.
  • If the dealer chooses to title and register a vehicle, the dealer should sign the title as an individual because he has removed himself from the capacity of dealer to individual and is subject to title and registration fees and sales tax.
  • An insurance company that obtains title to a motor vehicle as a result of paying a total loss claim resulting from collision, fire, or water damage shall obtain a salvage title, flood title, or non-repairable vehicle certificate from the department.



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