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-DC DMV will no longer prevent DC residents from applying for a new or renewed driver license because of failing to meet the requirements of the Clean Hands Law.

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Designating A Beneficiary

To designate and add a beneficiary to a vehicle title, you will have to bring a completed Beneficiary Designation to Certificate of Title Application [PDF] to a DC DMV service center with the required documents listed below:

  • Valid driver license or identification card of vehicle owner
  • Vehicle information (at least one of the following items to identify your vehicle)
  • Vehicle registration
  • Vehicle registration renewal notice
  • Vehicle title number
  • Proposed beneficiary - a copy of the valid driver license or identification card and birth certificate are required.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why add a beneficiary to your vehicle title?

Designating a beneficiary for your vehicle title allows the individual or company you designate to obtain the vehicle title upon death, without having to go through probate.

2. Can more than one beneficiary be added to a DC title?

Only one beneficiary can be added on a DC title.

3. Is a Trust considered a business? Can a beneficiary be added to a vehicle that is part of a Trust?

A Trust would be considered a business. A beneficiary can only be added to a vehicle owned by an individual.

4. How will the beneficiary be notified? Will the beneficiary be notified by DC DMV?

The beneficiary should be notified by the primary owner of the vehicle, that the owner is adding them to the vehicle title as a beneficiary, since the owner must obtain the beneficiary's driver license or identification card. If the owner dies, DC DMV will not notify the beneficiary; it would be the responsibility of the beneficiary to take over ownership.

5. Does a will and/or probate court decisions override a beneficiary on a DC title?

A will or probate court decision does not override a beneficiary on a DC title, since the owner must be alive when adding the beneficiary.

6. How will the beneficiary or DC DMV know if there is an executor of the deceased estate?

The designation on the beneficiary must be made prior to the death of the individual. The vehicle will not be considered part of the estate, therefore Letters of Administration will not be required for the transfer of the vehicle to the beneficiary.

7. How to acquire vehicle title after death of vehicle owner?

The following will need to be presented at a DC DMV service center:

  • Death certificate of vehicle owner
  • Beneficiary's driver license or identification card
  • Appropriate fee

Note: beneficiary can only obtain vehicle title and will be responsible for registering vehicle.

8. What should happen if the beneficiary is not approved by the lienholder to take over the lien contract, once the primary is deceased? (Out-of-state and DC residents)

DC DMV will not transfer ownership to the beneficiary unless the lien is satisfied. If the beneficiary is not approved for the lien transfer, the beneficiary’s name will remain in the system.

Should the lienholder take possession of the vehicle, any beneficiary will be removed from the DC title.


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