How to get a title for a car

Do you know where your California car title is? Is it in some random drawer? Those are question drivers ask themselves when they go to sell their vehicle, decide to race for a pink slip (not advisable) or need prove ownership for some other reason.

Race for pink slips WorkaholicsRacing for pink slips is not advised

The certificate of title, also called a pink slip due to the original color, establishes the ownership of a vehicle. Whenever you buy or are given a vehicle you have to get the car title in your name to prove that you’re the legal owner and not just out for a joy ride.

At Aceable our online California traffic school courses can help you mask a speeding ticket, but we can’t make your car title magically reappear. That will require either a Houdini-level sleight of hand or a trip to your local California State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

magicThe DMV can make your title magically reappear

How to Get a Duplicate Car Title in California

State DMV departments are the gatekeepers of car titles. The Department of Motor Vehicles allows each state to handle car registration, title transfer and car title replacement however they see fit. If you need a replacement title through the CA DMV here’s what you’ve got to do:

  • Fill out an Application for Duplicate Title form (Form REG 227)
  • Pay the duplicate title fee of $20 (can vary depending on the motor vehicle)
  • Mail in the application form or bring it to a CA DMV office.

Sounds pretty simple, right? Now let’s take a look at how to fill out the duplicate title application form.

Duplicate Title Application Process

California has made the title replacement process pretty straightforward. To complete an application for duplicate title you’ll need to provide:

  • Driver license number or ID card number
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle identification number
  • The vehicle’s make and year
  • Vehicle registration card for proof of ownership (if your address has changed)
  • Notarized Lien Satisfied/Legal Owner/Title Holder Release (REG 166) form
  • Lienholder information (if you’re still paying off a vehicle loan)

In Section 3 of the form check the “Lost” box so that the CA DMV knows your original title may still be floating around somewhere. The duplicate title will void the original, but it’s still need-to-know info. Sign and date the form and you’re all done.

But wait one second . . .

Don’t forget you also have to get a CHP vehicle verification within 90 days of replacing your title.

Dont you Forget about meDon’t you forget about CHP vehicle verification!

Same Address? Snail Mail It!

As long as your address is the same, you can submit your title replacement application through snail mail rather than squaring away a few hours for a DMV office visit. Mail your completed form along with the duplicate title fee to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

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Registration Operations

PO Box 942869

Sacramento, California 94269-0001

Rush Title Replacement – It’s Possible to Speed Up the Process

Need your duplicate title like yesterday? For an additional $15 the California DMV will fast track your replacement title and have it to you within 8-10 business days. However, rush title requests can be only made by mail. Seems a little counterintuitive to the “rush” aspect of the process, but hey, the CA DMV has it’s reasons.

If you need it faster you can request rush title replacementIf you need it faster you can request rush title replacement

Here’s how to get cash for junk cars with no title needed:

  1. Speak with the person or company you want to sell your car to and ask them their process for buying cars without a title.
  2. If they tell you their process, follow the steps they outline and you should be all set.
  3. If they tell you they are unable to buy your car without a title then move on and call the next company until you find someone that lays out a process, which typically includes having a registration and license in lieu of the title.

We have more details about selling a car without a title below. Do you have anything to add? Drop us a line!

What is a car title?

A car title is a legal document that proves you own a vehicle. In some states it is referred to as a pink slip (not to be confused with the things used when people get fired from their job). When you purchase a car, you get the title from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. When you sell a car, you transfer the title to someone else. Titles are issued for all kinds of vehicles, including trucks, RVs, motorcycles and motorized boats.

There are different kinds of titles. A car that’s never been severely damaged has a “clean” title. If the vehicle is totaled (severely damaged in an accident and deemed not worth the price of repairing it), it will receive a “salvage” title. If the vehicle was declared totaled after an accident, but someone chooses to rebuild it, the car receives a “rebuilt” or “reconstructed” title before it is sold. This ensures the new buyer knows the vehicle was once declared undriveable and underwent major repairs.

Can you sell a car without a title?

When you sell a used vehicle, you’ll need to present the title to the new owner. They’ll need it for two reasons. They’ll want to see the title so they know the car really belongs to you (i.e., it wasn’t stolen) and you have the right to sell it. Giving them the title also allows them to transfer the car to their name. That ensures they can show they legally own the car and have the right to do with it as they please.

If you’re planning to sell to a private party or licensed dealer, you will almost certainly need a title. (There are a few states that don’t require a title to sell to a private party, but that’s rare.) If you don’t have the title and are planning to sell your vehicle to a car junker for cash, it’s possible you don’t need a title. Here’s what you need to do to sell your vehicle if you don’t have title in hand.

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How to sell a car without a car title

It’s possible you don’t have the title at home because your bank has it. When you take out a car loan, the bank owns that vehicle until you pay them back. As a result, they keep your title until it’s debt-free. If that’s the case, check with your bank and find out their process for transferring the title to the person purchasing your used car.

If you’re planning to sell your car for cash, it’s entirely possible you don’t need a title. We pay cash for junk cars with no title upon occasion. Many other car junkers are willing to offer you cash for cars with no title; instead, they’ll take a valid registration and driver’s license. Check with a local or national car junker for more information on their requirements.

If you’re selling your car to a private person or dealer, chances are you’ll need to file for a lost title, get a duplicate title or jump through other hoops before that person takes possession. We have more about that below.

How to file for a lost title or get a duplicate title

The requirements for filing for a lost title and getting a duplicate title vary widely from state to state. It’s a good idea to check with your state’s DMV office to find out how you get a new title.

Here are a few examples to demonstrate the vast differences between states:

  • The process for getting a duplicate title in Missouri is straightforward. You fill out a form and mail it in with your payment. In some cases you may need to send in a second notarized form, but that’s it. If you haven’t heard back from the DMV in two weeks, you can file an inquiry to find out where you application is in the process.
  • If you need a new title in New York, you first have to figure out if the car was ever issued a title. Cars sold before 1973 may only have a registration. Then you have to fill out the proper form to get a new title. In some cases it is possible to sell a car in New York without a title. In that case, the buyer and not the seller may be responsible for applying for the new title.
  • Oregon has an interesting policy that allows you to sell a car and apply for a new title at the same time – but only if the vehicle is not subject to certain odometer requirements and at least one current owner will remain on the title. If neither of these conditions are met, the owner must apply for a replacement title before they sell the car. Oregon also notes that they will not issue a replacement title if you know who stole and currently has possession of your title.
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Out-of-State Titles

An out-of-state certificate of title must be submitted as proof of ownership if that state issues titles. If a transfer of ownership is involved, it must be properly assigned to the new owner. If the vehicle has been titled in your name for less than six months, a bill of sale showing proof of sales tax paid must be provided. If sales tax paid is not equivalent to Florida sales tax, you may be subject to additional sales tax. A title fee, lien fee, if applicable, and initial registration fee must be paid. In addition, you must have proof of Florida insurance to obtain a license plate.

Please bring your vehicle so our staff can perform a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification, weather permitting, along with your current registration information and the name and address of the bank your vehicle is currently financed through, if applicable.

If your vehicle has a lien recorded in another state and our office must request the title from your bank or financial institution, there may be a delay in processing. If you have Florida insurance, and are otherwise eligible, a temporary registration may be available to you while your title is being requested.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Verification

All used motor vehicles, including trailers with a weight of 2,000 pounds or more, which are not currently titled in Florida, must have a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification when registered and titled in Florida. This process is completed using the Vehicle Identification Number and Odometer Verification (HSMV Form 82042). In most cases, our staff can perform the vehicle identification number (VIN) verification at our offices, weather permitting. There is no fee for this service. If you are unable to bring your vehicle to our offices, there are several other parties who may perform the VIN verification:

  • A law enforcement officer from any state
  • A licensed Florida State motor vehicle dealer
  • An out-of-state motor vehicle dealer (must be on the dealer’s letterhead)
  • A Florida DMV Compliance Examiner/Inspector
  • A Florida Notary Public
  • Provost Marshal, Commissioned Officer, Warrant Officer or Legalman on active military duty

VIN verification is NOT required on the following:

  • New motor vehicles regardless of whether purchased in Florida or out of state
  • Mobile homes
  • Trailer-type recreational vehicles (travel trailers, camp trailers, truck campers, and fifth wheel recreational trailers)
  • Trailers and semitrailers with a weight of less than 2,000 pounds
  • Vehicles currently titled in Florida
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