DMV Vehicle Title Guide
The vehicle title is the document that establishes ownership of the described vehicle. Every vehicle has a unique VIN (Vehicle Identification number) which appears on the title along with make, year, and owner name(s) among other things.
New Titles And Title Transfers
Titles are issued by the state agencies in charge of motor vehicle services and will bear that state’s mark of approval.
Title transfers are done for a number of different reasons including:
- When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership or private party. Dealerships will usually handle of the paperwork for you. Private sales will require the new owner to complete the title transfer in person.
- When you are gifted or inherit a vehicle. This may happen when a family member decides to gift the vehicle to you or if a family member dies and you inherit that asset as outlined in documents like a will.
- When a name change is required, such as after a divorce, a death, or completion of payment for a financed vehicle. Secondary owner’s need to be removed who should no longer appear on the title.
- When you move to a new state and want to be issued an in-state title. While this is usually not required by most states, you may choose to do so in order to avoid restrictions on selling or transferring the vehicle within that state in the future.
While most people are accustomed to paper titles, technology has made it possible to have titles electronically filed. In such cases, a paper title may never exist until the request is made to print one. Electronic titles typically originate from dealership transactions on new cars.
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Paper titles, sometimes called pink slips because they used to be printed on pink paper, are not required in many states unless a transfer is being done. A vehicle title only provides proof of ownership.
While each state differs, some of the common information and documents require include:
- Personal identification in the form of a driver’s license or other state issued ID
- A paper title signed by the previous owner if it’s a transfer from one person to another
- Proper form of payment of required fees which may a money order, check, credit card, or other form as outlined by the DMV in your state.
You can choose to only title your vehicle and avoid registering it. However, all states require that you obtain registration for your vehicle should you choose to drive it on public roads.
Replacement Car Title Guide
Important papers should be kept in a secure and safe area and this includes that all-important title to your vehicle.
Unfortunately, sometimes important papers get lost, stolen, misplaced or damaged. If this happens to be the case with your vehicle title and you find yourself wondering how to get a replacement car title, there are a few ways you can obtain a DMV title replacement.
How to Get a Replacement Car Title
You can apply for a duplicate or replacement title right online. Just go to the link found on your local DMV website and follow the instructions.
Another other option is to visit your city’s DMV location in person with all of the required documents while also being prepared to pay the title replacement fee.
Required Documents for Replacing a Vehicle Title
As of now, most states do not offer online title transfer, car title replacement, or duplicate vehicle titles, meaning you will have to visit your local DMV to get a replacement vehicle title.
Be sure to bring the following required documents:
- Valid photo identification of vehicle owner or owners.
- Completed copy of the certificate of title application (found online).
- Vehicle power of attorney form, if you’re not the owner (found online).
- Vehicle information, such as vehicle registration, vehicle tag number or vehicle renewal notice.
You can also get a replacement title via the mail. To do this, fill out the Application for Duplicate Title form, send in a photocopy of your driver’s license along with a money order or personal check for the required amount.
Replacement And Duplicate Title Fees
The fee for this method of vehicle title replacement is usually around $20.
If you need a replacement title because a lien has been satisfied, bring the above documents with you along with a loan agreement that is stamped “paid” or a letter from the financing company indicating that the lien has been satisfied.
Keep in mind that dealers may request a replacement title on behalf of customers too.
They will likely require a certificate of title application, a copy of the customer’s driver license and a vehicle power of attorney. To replace a title due to an incorrect VIN number, fill out the VIN correction form available at your DMV’s location.
Replacement titles are not issued to the primary owner over the counter. Instead, they are mailed out within 10 business days of the application.
What Do I Need To Replace My Car Title?
Each state has its own requirements and steps for a replacement title.
For example, if you need to add or remove names from your title in NC, you will need the original title, names of both the buyer and the recipient, seller signature, odometer disclosure statement, damage disclosure statement and proof of liability insurance.
To replace a title in New York, you need to update the name on your vehicle title, visit your local DMV office and bring your US divorce document, marriage certificate or other court-ordered name change document.
Be sure to call or check with your local DMV office website to learn the requirements for your state.
Replacement Vehicle Title Application And Forms
Whether you apply for a DMV title replacement in person, online or by mail, it’s important to understand that the title of your vehicle is an important legal document.
The title of a car is a legal document providing proof of who owns the vehicle. It’s important for a variety of reasons and may be needed for insurance purposes.
In addition, if you sell your car, you don’t want to be legally responsible if the new owner gets into an accident or incurs a traffic infraction.
Do I Need A Bill Of Sale?
Buying or selling a car from or to another individual can be tricky business and a bill of sale can help lessen the risk.
An important document as part of the car buying and selling process, bill of sale documents the transaction between two parties.
Car And Other Vehicle Bill of Sale
For the buyer, it outlines info about the vehicle. For the seller, a car bill of sale form shows information about the buyer and the date the vehicle was sold.
Typically, the dmv bill of sale will include vehicle type, model, make, VIN and odometer reading. In addition, it will include the name and addresses of the parties and purchase price.
To determine if your state requires a car bill of sale, call your motor vehicle department. Keep in mind that whether or not your state requires it, a bill of sale is an important record.
It makes for a more seamless registration process for a newly purchased vehicle. It also proves that you sold the vehicle and are no longer responsible for the vehicle.
What would happen if the new owner gets into an accident or has a traffic violation? Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you should never walk away from the transaction without a dmv bill of sale.
It’s also important to understand that a bill of sale does not complete the sale or prove ownership. For this, you will have to complete a title transfer to protect yourself from any further liability. If the car is new, the dealership will handle most of the paperwork.
Bill Of Sale Form
If it’s used, most states have a website where you can download title applications. The site will also guide you how to fill out the title certificate and properly transfer ownership.
If you’re a buyer, just make sure to check that the VIN on the title matches the title on the car and that the car is free of all liens.
What Is A Salvage Title?
A salvage title is a way to alert potential buyers of a vehicle that was either severely damaged or deemed to be a total loss by the insurance company that covered the vehicle.
However, the actual details of how a vehicle ends up with a salvage title depend on the location in which the vehicle is located.
Some buyers may be able to purchase a salvage title car that has been restored for a truly incredible bargain, while others may end up with a vehicle that may be unreliable (or even dangerous.)
In some states, a vehicle is only considered salvaged if it was stolen or otherwise vandalized by criminals. The vehicle must be missing for at least 21 days before an insurance company will cover the full price of the car.
If the car happens to be found at some point after those 21 days, it will then receive a salvage title.
In most states though, a salvage title is declared for a car that has been damaged in an accident. In the case of an older or an inexpensive car, the damage doesn’t always have to be very severe for an insurance company to declare it a total loss.
The salvage title will never give every detail of how the car came to be damaged, but it can at least give the potential buyer a sense of the history behind the designation.
Are Salvage Cars Worth It?
Some people are happy to take their chances with a salvage title car. If a car was stolen but remained untouched by criminals during the weeks it spent apart from its original owner, it’s possible for a salvaged car to have sustained no damage.
It’s also possible to buy a completely safe and reliable car that was worked on by a qualified mechanic.
However, it’s also possible that you will end up paying for a car with severe damage that will cost thousands of dollars to repair. Plus, most states won’t even let a car on the road if it has a salvaged title.
If you do choose to purchase a salvage car, ensure you choose one with an official Rebuilt status and that you enlist the help of a mechanic to ensure the safety of the car.
Conditions And Loopholes
There are plenty of mechanics who can put a damaged car back together again, in which case the car may be given a title of Rebuilt Salvage.
Each insurance company will set their own criteria for when they declare a vehicle to be totaled, with some setting their estimates as low as 50% of the car’s total value.
This means that if a car is valued at $4,000 then the retail cost of the repairs may be as low as $2,000 to completely restore the vehicle.
Cars that are imported into the United States or exported to another country are typically given a clean title — no matter how badly the car was damaged in the past.
Common Questions About Title Transfer And Replacement Titles
Are there any questions about transferring or replacing a car title that we didn’t cover?
We are constantly updating our content and welcome your feedback. Leave us a comment and let us know any other questions you might have regarding how to transfer or get a duplicate vehicle title.