How To Replace A Lost Car Title
A vehicle title is a common thing that gets misplaced, especially because you don’t need it often. But it is an important piece of paper that you need if you were ever to sell your car or show proof of ownership. While it varies from state to state, we’ve laid out the steps for how to replace a lost car title in most states.
What Is A Car Title?
A car title is a legal document the state government issues to demonstrate who owns the vehicle. It includes information about both the car and the owner of the vehicle. A car title is very different from vehicle registration and proof of insurance, it’s strictly proof of car ownership.
You can get a title by purchasing the car, paying off an auto loan, or being the recipient of an ownership transfer. You should store your car title in a secure place such as a safe or a folder that you keep other important documents in.
If you’re having trouble paying off your loan, you can always look into Refinancing Your Vehicle to get your title even quicker.
Different Kinds Of Car Titles
There are many different kinds of car titles, depending on your state. Some types don’t apply to private owners, but the most common car titles issued by states work by designating the vehicle as one of the kinds we’ve listed below.
- Clean – An inspected vehicle that hasn’t been in an accident and isn’t damaged
- Clear – A vehicle that has been repaired and passed inspection
- Rebuilt – A vehicle that was severely damaged before being repaired or rebuilt
- Salvage – A vehicle that’s sustained significant damage and needs rebuilding
Other less common title types you may come across
- junk car – one that can’t be repaired
- lemon – a car with hazardous components
- odometer rollback – when the mileage was lowered illegally
- dismantled – a completely totaled car
How Do I Replace A Lost Title?
Again, you aren’t the first person to ever misplace, destroy or have their title stolen, but it is a good idea to know what to do if or when this happens.
Replacing A Title In Your Name
Some people think it is a long process to replace a title, but it’s not as bad as you think. If the title is already in your name, it makes this process easier. If the car is titled in your name, most states offer replacements through a local DMV office.
These requirements vary by state. Be sure to check with your DMV to ensure that you have all the required documents.
The paperwork you need to do includes filling out you name, address, drivers license number and vehicle information such as the VIN number, license plate, year, make and model. In most states you can send it in by mail to avoid having to wait in the lines.
The documents that you’ll need will often include a copy of your ID and insurance card, proof of paid property taxes and a passing inspection slip if available. A notary stamp is sometimes required in some states. Replacing your title will normally be less than $50 but again this varies by state. The normal time you have to wait for your replacement is around six to eight weeks.
This process cannot be completed online due to safety and security reasons. After submitting the first section of paperwork you will have to take a trip to your local DMV office.
Replacing A Title That’s Not In Your Name Yet
If you are purchasing a vehicle from a private seller and they misplaced the title before it was transferred into your name, it can still be possible to get a replacement. The first thing you can do is request that the private seller applies for a new title.
If they are unable or refuse, some states will allow you to request the title with a court order. If you take this route, you’ll have to go to court and have a judge grant you with ownership of the vehicle. Most people are successful with obtaining the title this way, as long as you have information such as the VIN number, year, make, model and proof of purchase.
Getting A Lien Release
If your title has a lien on it, you may have to get a lien release to request a new title. A lien release is a document that officially states there is no longer a lien on the vehicle. This document removes any restrictions on what you can do with your car. Someone is typically eligible for a vehicle lien release when the loan has been paid back to the lender.
The process of filing for a vehicle lien release varies by state, situation and lender. However, the lien release process generally consists of the steps we’ve laid out for you.
- Locate Your Lien Holder – Your lien holder is the lender of your auto loan. To find who this is, check your bank records and the business that processed your monthly car payments. Once this has been identified, information can be pulled from the lien holder’s website.
- Write Your Lien Release Request – To request your lien be released from the title of your vehicle, you must send the lien holder a release request letter. In this letter, you must include the VIN, Year, Make, Model, Name and Lien Holder information.
- If your lien holder no longer has interest in collecting on the lien, ask them to complete a letter of non-interest. The letter of non-interest should include all of the contents of the lien release request letter and should have a section where the lien holder can sign.
- Mail Your Request – Use the addresses pulled from the lien holder’s website to mail a copy of your documents to your holder. Each envelope should include the lien release request letter, the letter of non-interest and a pre-labeled return envelope.
- Clearing Your Title – Before you can clear your title for your vehicle, you will need to pay all registration and tax fees as well as any title transfer fees.
Here we have listed the 30 most popular banks that can help you with this process.
Bank of America
Charles Schwab Corporation
PNC Financial Services
TD Bank, N.A.
The Bank of New York Mellon
State Street Corporation
HSBC Bank USA
Citizens Financial Group
SVB Financial Group
Fifth Third Bank
BMO Harris Bank
Regions Financial Corporation
What To Do If Your Title Is Stolen
If your car title happens to be stolen, first you should call the police and report it. Then, You should go to the DMV and ask for a replacement car title. As soon as you have received a new car title, the stolen title will be void.
The person who stole your title could potentially forge your signature to transfer the title in their name. However, you have to consider that they would also need to steal your keys to get into your vehicle.
To transfer the title to their name, they need important information like the vehicle’s VIN. As long as you still have the vehicle and you file for a replacement title, you’ll be fine.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the above processes of replacing a lost title, you are able to fill out most of the forms online. Don’t keep your car title in the car where it could get lost, damaged, or stolen. Unlike registration and proof of insurance, you should store your car title in a safe place as you would other important documents like your passport, birth certificate, and Social Security card.
DMV By State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia