In many US states, title transfer of an automobile usually does not require the services of a notary. The owner signs a form that shifts ownership to a new person. The document is then filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) so the previous owner is no longer responsible for the car or any damage the car might incur.
While California does not require notary services, for example, Arizona does require notary services before title transfer. The best way to check is to find the website or the phone number of one’s state DMV to inquire about individual laws.
One may want to have a title transfer notarized regardless of laws, because it proves one’s surrender of a vehicle. If a new owner fails to register the car in his or her name, then one might still be held liable for fees or damage associated with the vehicle.
Where states don’t require notarization for title transfer, one can avoid the hassle by joining the new owner at the local DMV to make sure that ownership now reflects the new owner. One usually has to bring the signed form, and the original pink slip of the car to complete this process.
Some auto clubs allow one to skip the long lines at the DMV and complete the title transfer process through them. AAA is particularly good at both filing forms, and providing notary service when required so that the previous owner is exempt from further involvement with the car. Often auto clubs offer this service for free or for a very low price as a part of membership.
Common sense suggests verifying that one is no longer considered the owner of the car. This is particularly true if one is selling the car to a stranger. Notary services do prove that one has transferred title, but really the most effective way is to file or witness the filing of a title transfer, so no mistakes arise in the future.