We Have Been Helping To Replace Lost Car Titles For 11 Years
Now We’ll Tell You How You Can Do It Yourself For FREE!
Obtaining a legal title for a vehicle can appear to be a complex process. Vehicle titles are legal documents, only issued by government agencies. Each state has a title registry, and the documents are issued by that agency. The states use different names such as Department of Motor Vehicles, Transportation Division, Department of Public Safety, or the Motor Vehicle Department. For the purpose of this site we will use the abbreviation “DMV” to refer to this agency, no matter what state you are in. (DMV stock photo)
Titles are not just printed and issued upon request. Since the title is the legal ownership proof for the vehicle, the DMV requires the person requesting the title to provide documentation that they are the rightful owner of the vehicle. Otherwise, any person could simply ask for a title for any car they wanted with the VIN, and become the owner. You would not want someone to just take ownership of your vehicle by obtaining a DMV title, so your rights are protected by this bureaucratic process. (title doc stock photo)
If you have a vehicle without a title, you may have discovered that you need this document, and that the process for obtaining it has become difficult. Listed below are several solutions for obtaining a title on your own, without having to pay expensive title fees to online title companies to do something which you can do on your own.
Get Your Own Replacement Car Title
Why pay when you can do it yourself!? Here’s how!
Scenario 1: You had a title previously issued in your name, and lost that document.
Simply visit the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), or government agency in the state where the last title was issued in your name. Bring your photo ID for verification. They will verify that you were the last titled owner of the vehicle, and verify your identity. They will then issue a new replacement title document printed exactly as the last one was.
Liens – If there was a lien on the vehicle when the last title was issued, you will need to obtain a lien release from the lender. Even if the lien has been paid off, the DMV will likely not have been made aware of this event and will still how it as a cloud on the title.
Other owners – If there are multiple owners listed on the title, each person will need to sign the duplicate title application, unless they are listed as “or” owners.
Not in your name – If the vehicle was transferred to you but a new legal title was never issued to you by the DMV, then the last person who had a legal title document with their name printed on the front will need to make application for the duplicate.
Purged records – If there has been no title or active registration issued on the vehicle in 5 or 7 years (depending on the state), the prior ownership records may have been purged from the system, and a duplicate title request may not be allowed.
Out of the area – In most cases, the DMV will require the legal owner to present themself in person to request the duplicate title document. The agency does not want to hand a legal document to a person who is not the legal owner, and would want to verify the identity of the person requesting the document by matching their photo ID. If you have moved to a different state, you may be able to request an affidavit form that you can have notarized at your location and send by postal mail.
Deceased – If the person listed as legal owner on title has become deceased, the DMV will request a death certificate and documentation demonstrating that the person requesting the replacement title is the legal heir by statute or by will/probate/estate.
Scenario 2. You have a vehicle which has not yet been legally titled in your name.
If there has never been a legal title issued in your name you will need to have the legal owner provide you with their legal title document correctly signed over to you. Without the legal title signed over to you, your state’s DMV will not issue you a title even if you have a bill of sale or receipt for the purchase.
Solution: If you have purchased or acquired a vehicle and the prior title is not available, or the prior owner is not available, the least expensive option is to use an out of state title process to obtain your title. If the vehicle is more than 15 years old (2002 or older), the State of Vermont will accept a basic bill of sale to transfer ownership to your name. The other 49 states do not allow for bill of sale to transfer.
You do not have to live in Vermont
The vehicle does not have to have come from Vermont
The bill of sale does not need to be from the last titled owner (can be from anyone)
Vermont issues a registration form of ownership for 15 year old vehicles. Since that is their version of a title, you can obtain this document in your name for $48 with just a bill of sale, and then present it to your state DMV who will then issue you a legal title in your name, in your state. This process has been used by car collectors, auctions, and brokers for years to solve difficult title problems. Until recently, our website has offered this as a paid service. Many websites still use this trick as a way to get titles for customers charging hundreds of dollars.
You can do this yourself with no fees to title companies, just by sending the document directly to the Vermont DMV. The fee paid to the DMV is $48 ($76 for some vehicles) and they send you a legal title in your name directly.
Complete the form as instructed (carefully enter all required information)
Attach a valid bill of sale or transfer document
Mail to the address listed with the appropriate fee
You will receive a registration / ownership document from the state of Vermont. (Along with valid license plates). Once received, you will bring these to the DMV / title office in your state to exchange for a title issued to your name, in your state. No service fees or title fees paid to online title agents are required.
The State of Vermont does not issue titles for vehicles 15 years or older, and uses this registration form of ownership. Since all states need to recognize other states legal documents, this can be converted to the title in your home state.
Taxes – If the vehicle transfer has sales tax due, and you have not paid them yet, VT will calculate the amount and mail you the bill for that.
Liens – If there are open liens on the vehicle the application will be sent back until the lien is paid
VIN inspection – If the VIN# provided is incorrect, the DMV may require a VIN inspection by local government official in your area
Conversion questions – If you live in a rural area and your local DMV has not seen many Vermont registration titles, you may need this document (link to pdf) to present with your VT title explaining the Vermont titling system.
Recent registration – If a title has been issued in your state recently to someone else, try to obtain a copy of that registration first to eliminate conflicts in ownership.
If you wish to hire a title agent to do this for you, you can find several companies who charge around $300 to perform this service plus the registration and tax fees. When researching title companies, be sure to verify that they have a valid license to perform the service, and have a physical address (not a PO Box). Bonus: In addition to the legal ownership documents, Vermont will also send you a license plate for registration and operation on the road.