Ohio Car Title Transfer and Registration

Vehicle registration must be completed with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) in order to legally drive on OH roadways. So what do you need to take with you to complete your transaction the first time? It depends on how you own your automobile (leasing, making payments, or owner with title) and how you want to register (single, joint, business or transfer to family member) your automobile.

You are considered a new resident of Ohio when you:

  • Begin working in the state.
  • Rent or buy a home.
  • Register to vote.
  • Enroll your children in an OH school.

Within 30 days of establishing residency, you’ll need to title and register your car.

The general process for getting your Ohio vehicle registration is outlined below, but before registering, you must:

  • Get an Ohio driver’s license.
  • Have a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection completed to verify legal ownership of the vehicle.
  • Get a vehicle emissions test done.
  • Apply for an Ohio vehicle title. This must be done at a county clerk’s title office, not the BMV.

You are responsible for completing your own vehicle registration in Ohio, regardless of whether you are moving to the state, purchasing a new car from a dealership, or buying/receiving a vehicle from a private party.  Once these steps are complete, you’re ready to register your vehicle in Ohio.

Vehicle Registration & Title Transfer Process

  • New residents must obtain an Ohio vehicle title before registering.
    • Car dealerships must provide you with the title within 30 days of purchase.
    • If you are purchasing the vehicle from a private party, the seller of the vehicle is required to give you the title at the time of purchase. Make sure the title transfer is correctly documented.

Once you have the title, go to the local deputy registrar’s agency and:

  • Present proof of ownership (Certificate of Title or Memorandum Certificate of Title). Titles must be notarized and contain the Ohio clerk of court’s seal.
    • A power of attorney is required if one or more of the owners cannot be present when registering the vehicle.
  • Provide either:
    • Your Ohio driver’s license or photo ID.
    • Proof of your Social Security number.
  • If your vehicle is leased, submit a Power of Attorney for Ohio Vehicle Registration (Form BMV 5736).
  • Present inspection documents, if required.
    • New-to-state vehicles require a VIN inspection document.
    • Certain counties also require emissions inspections (please see “OH Registration Vehicle Inspections” below).
  • Pay all applicable fees and taxes.

NOTE: Proof of insurance is not always required, but you may be randomly selected to prove you have OH auto insurancebefore you can complete your registration.

Your license plates will be mailed to the address on your registration. You’ll receive a temporary permit that will allow you to legally drive while you wait for the plates to arrive.

To be sure you have everything you need before getting in line at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) office, visit www.transfermyauto.com, answer 3 to 5 questions to generate a checklist of what is needed. Military personnel often get tax breaks in many states, your checklist will indicate if this is the case.