Transfer title: Buying from a dealer

Learn how to get a title when you buy from a dealer in Washington and how to file a complaint if you don't receive your title.

How to transfer ownership

You'll need to show your unexpired Washington (WA) driver license to your dealership so they can register the vehicle in your name, unless you're exempt from getting a driver license under RCW 46.20.025.

For more information, see the Buying a Vehicle guide.

What to do if a WA state car dealer goes out of business

We can't provide legal advice, but the following may help you resolve matters on transferring the title and registration.

File a complaint

You may file against a dealer if you:

  • Paid for a vehicle without financing and the dealer didn't give you the title within 45 days of the date of delivery.
  • Finished making payments on a vehicle but the dealer didn't release the title to you.
  • Are in the process of making payments to the dealer for a vehicle but you can't locate the dealer.

How to file a complaint

Here are your options:

Supporting documents

Provide as many of the following supporting documents as possible to help us resolve your complaint:

  • Copy of purchase agreement
  • Proof of payments:
    • Check – copy of front and back of the canceled check
    • Cash – a receipt from the dealer showing that the vehicle has been paid in full
  • Your copy of the title application. If you financed your vehicle, the title must show the legal owner of record.
  • Any documentation of your attempts to obtain the vehicle title or release of interest

After we receive your complaint

We'll review it to see if there's enough information to transfer ownership to you. We may ask you for additional documentation and we'll discuss all possible titling options at that time. Filing a complaint doesn't guarantee you'll be issued a title.

Get tips about buying a vehicle

Need additional help? Here's how to contact us:

call Phone: 360-902-3770
(TTY: Call 711)
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