Losing your car title is an unfortunate circumstance that can happen to even the best of us. Maybe your dog ate it, or you accidentally threw it out, but either way, there is a way to get it back. You’ll just need to take some extra steps and gather some additional documentation. In this article, we will go over all the steps to take on how to register a vehicle without a title in your state.
What to do if you lost your car title
If you’ve acquired a vehicle that doesn’t come with a title, don’t worry – it’s still possible to register the car.
First, you need to visit your state’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) website. Each state has different requirements to replace a lost car title so ensure that you follow the steps for your state, but generally, the process looks like this:
- Fill out a replacement title application online or at your local SOS (Secretary of State) branch.
- Turn in your application with the required documentation to your SoS.
- Or mail or email the form(s) with your required documentation and applicable fees.
If you’re having trouble finding your state’s replacement title form, search “[your state] + replacement title form” into a search engine to find it.
In most states, you cannot complete this online for security reasons. For example, if someone steals your car but wants to acquire a vehicle title using your information.
Furthermore, you will need to prove ownership of your vehicle as you cannot replace a title on a stolen vehicle. The DMV will ensure the vehicle isn’t stolen by running the VIN number when you go to turn in your application.
Lost car title replacement requirements
Most states require that the owner on the title record must sign the title application and present identification. But, if the owner can’t appear (for example, they’re incapacitated), they must complete and sign an Appointment of Agent (Power of Attorney) form designating another individual to sign on their behalf. If they can’t sign the form, then their acting agent must sign on their behalf.
Joint Ownership Exception
When a title has two owners, joint ownership, only one owner must be present to sign the replacement title form. An Appointment of Agent form isn’t required from the missing co-owner.
Lost car title replacement documentation requirements
You will need proof of identity like a driver’s license, state identification, or passport to receive your replacement title. You may also need proof of paid property taxes and a passing inspection form. Sometimes, states require notary stamps.
If you have an active lien (or loan) on your vehicle, your state may require you to bring additional documentation.
Cost and turnaround
Usually, replacing your vehicle title is around $50-200, depending on your state. It takes about 4-8 weeks to process your replacement title, but some states, like Michigan, have instant replacement title transactions.
How to get a duplicate title
Again, the process varies from state to state, but the general process is the same. If you need another copy of your vehicle title or you can’t locate your title, you can apply for a duplicate title. There are some eligibility requirements:
- Your title application must match the state in which your vehicle is registered initially and titled.
- If there are joint owners, only one needs to apply.
Suppose you want to designate another individual to apply. In that case, you must complete an Appointment of Agent (Power of Attorney) form and send it along with a photocopy of a valid driver’s license, state identification, or passport.
In some states, you can apply for the duplicate title online, mail, or fax.
The turnaround time is around 14 days.
How to register a car without a title
If you have purchased a non-titled vehicle, you may wonder how to register the vehicle. It may go without saying, but you will need to check your state’s DMV website for requirements on registering the car.
In most states, you’ll need a bill of sale and a copy of the vehicle registration card from the previous owner. You will also need to provide proof of insurance and may need to have the car inspected. Once you have all of the necessary paperwork, you can take it to your local DMV office, and they will help you complete the registration process. In some cases, you may need to apply for a bonded title, but this is typically only required if the car is worth a significant amount of money.
A few things to note:
- You cannot make changes to an existing title.
- An outstanding loan on the vehicle cannot exist when transferring the title unless the lender approves the transfer.
- Your vehicle’s stats (like odometer and VIN numbers) must match those on the title.
What to do if the vehicle is not in your name
When you purchase a car, the title is registered in your name. This proves that you own the vehicle and provides a way to transfer ownership if you sell the car. However, there are some situations where the car title is not in your name. For example, if you inherit a car from a family member or receive it as a gift, the title may still be in the previous owner’s name. In these cases, you must have the title transferred into your name before legally driving the vehicle or selling it. The process for doing this varies depending on your state, but it usually involves going to the DMV and providing proof of ownership. Once the title is transferred, you will be the vehicle’s legal owner and can drive it freely.
Steps for transferring ownership of a vehicle
When you sell or give your car to someone else, you’ll need to transfer the ownership of the vehicle. In most cases, this will involve filling out forms and taking them to your local DMV office. The specifics vary from state to state, but the process is usually straightforward.
To start, it’s recommended that you and the buyer go to the branch office together to transfer the title and complete the purchase. This will avoid any potential delays and will make for a smooth transfer. Both parties must present their valid driver’s licenses.
Here are a few steps to help you through the process:
1) Gather the necessary paperwork. This will likely include the title of the vehicle, and a bill of sale. You may need other documents, such as your driver’s license and proof of insurance. You’ll also need to release ownership of the car by signing the title.
2) Fill out the forms. This will usually include transferring the vehicle’s title into the new owner’s name.
3) Take the forms to your local DMV. If more than one person is listed on the title as the new owner, all parties must be present to sign the new title application.
4) The Secretary of State issues your registration, license plate, and new tab.
Tips for buying or selling a car without a title
When buying or selling a car, the title is an important document representing the vehicle’s ownership. However, there are some situations where a title may not be available, such as if the car is too old or if it was never titled in the first place. In these cases, it’s still possible to buy or sell the vehicle, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
If you’re the buyer
If you’re the buyer, you need to find out more information regarding the car and the car’s registered owner, such as where they purchased the car, how long they’ve had the car, if there’s an outstanding loan, the VIN, if it’s a salvage title, who the owner is, and more. Then, contact your local DMV to find out what you’ll need to continue the title transfer process.
Next, make sure it’s not a stolen vehicle. Once you have the VIN, you can contact your local police department to check if the car is clean (it isn’t stolen or wanted for something illegal). You can also go to the NMVTIS (National Motor Vehicle Title Information System) website to check the vehicle’s condition and history information.
Then, corroborate the registered owner further by ensuring the car doesn’t have an active lien on the vehicle. You can do this through your local DMV.
Next, have the registered owner write up and sign a bill of sale for the vehicle with your agreement terms. This proves ownership of the vehicle, and certain states require it, or else you won’t be able to proceed with the title transfer process.
Next, acquire a Certificate of Title bond to get a new title for the vehicle. This bond indemnifies the prior owners. It protects the DMV from vehicle loss and protects buyers from obtaining fraudulent title duplicates.
Finally, go back to the DMV to file for your new title. You’ll need to pay another title fee that varies by state, but it’s the last step.
If you’re the registered owner
If you’re the registered owner, you’ll need to provide any and everything you can about the vehicle to the potential buyer. If there’s an outstanding loan on the vehicle, you must pay it before releasing the title unless the buyer is willing to pay off the debt.
First, you’ll need to replace the title. This requires a visit to your local DMV or from the DMV where you purchase your vehicle. Ask them what’s required to get a replacement for a missing title because you’re selling your car.
Note: You cannot change anything on the existing title or else it deems the title invalid.
Next, write a bill of sale for the buyer. Check with the DMV for your state’s requirements for a bill of sale. Some states require you to use their own form to print out or pick up at a DMV location. Once you write a bill of sale, let your buyer know that you don’t have a title and aren’t able to get one.
After acquiring and signing a bill of sale, you should get the bill of sale notarized which legitimizes the transaction.
You’re ready to sell the car if you finish with the steps above. Let your DMV know you’ve sold the car to avoid further taxes or other vehicle fees.
If you have lost your car title, don’t worry. You can take several steps to get a duplicate title and register your car without it. Keep in mind that the process will differ depending on whether the vehicle is in your name. If you buy or sell a car without a title, follow the steps above to avoid any potential problems.