How to Get a Title for My Car in Ohio

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In the state of Ohio, the document that establishes ownership of a vehicle is termed a certificate of title. Every resident of Ohio who owns a car or other vehicle in the state is required to get a title document if they intend to drive on public roads and highways.

Although it is not difficult to acquire title documents, it is an entirely separate process from obtaining car registration and license plates.

Vehicle Titles in Ohio

It is mandatory that the owner transfer their vehicle title when it is bought, sold, transferred to someone else, or brought into the state. The titling agency in Ohio is called the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), and title transfer documents and fee payments must be submitted there.

The procedure for getting vehicle title is different in Ohio for different circumstances. Just moving to the state? New residents have 30 days to obtain an Ohio certificate of title. The procedure requires verification of a VIN number.

Procedure When Buying or Selling a Car

Those buying a new car will follow a different procedure if they buy their vehicle from a dealer than they would when purchasing a used car. If a vehicle is received as a gift, the application process is slightly different.

Those selling a vehicle will also need to know the procedure to transfer ownership. If an owner loses their title document, they have to apply for and obtain a replacement copy.

Buying a Car From a Dealership

A car dealership usually handles the issue of a Ohio certificate of title when someone buys a new vehicle from them. The Ohio BMV issues a brand new title for a new car or truck rather than transferring title. The dealership is required by state law to provide a hard copy of title to the owner within 30 days of the time of the purchase.

The documents that must be submitted to the BMV include:

Buying a Used Car From a Prior Owner

Anyone buying a used car from a prior owner in Ohio will want to make certain that the seller has valid title and shows you that title. If the seller claims to have lost the title, close the deal only if and when they obtain a valid replacement title.

The procedure for transferring title from a prior owner is slightly more complicated for the new owner compared to buying a new car from a dealership. The seller should fill in the reverse side of the certificate of title with:

  • Buyer's name.
  • Buyer's address.
  • Odometer reading of the vehicle.
  • Sales price.

Both the seller and the buyer must sign the title document under the odometer section. These signatures must be notarized before a notary public; the parties must also print their names.

Required Application Form

Once that is accomplished, the buyer must obtain and fill out the BMV form "Application for Certificate of Title to a Motor Vehicle." The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles maintains a searchable online list of addresses for County Clerk of Courts Title Office.

Visit a convenient title office within 30 days of the date the purchase takes place. You'll need to pay the title transfer fee of $15.

Transferring Title When Selling a Vehicle

When someone sells the car, they must complete the title assignment on their current title certificate and pass that to the new owner. As described, this includes inserting the buyer's name and address, as well as the purchase price and odometer reading on the vehicle at the time of transfer. Both signatures must be notarized.

Obtaining a Duplicate Ohio Car Title

If an individual obtains an original certificate of title in Ohio but loses it, they can and must apply for a duplicate title at the County Clerk of Courts Title Office. They will need to have title if they ever intend to transfer title, and may be asked to show it if stopped by law enforcement in Ohio.

An individual applying for a duplicate certificate of title in Ohio can do so in person or by mail. They will need to fill out the Application for Certificate of Title Document. It has a section to fill out for those seeking to get a duplicate title. The application asks the owner to affirm the current location of the vehicle and to state whether the former title was lost, stolen or destroyed.

Anyone applying by mail should do so to the Title Office that originally issued the title. Include your mailing address so that they can send the new title document to the correct place. Get your signature notarized and include payment for duplicate title fees. The fee for a duplicate certificate of title is the same as for a certificate of title, $15.

Replacement Certificate of Title in Ohio

What is the difference between a duplicate certificate of title and a replacement certificate of title? A duplicate is issued if the original title was lost, stolen or destroyed. A replacement title is issued if information on the certificate has changed since it was issued. This might happen, for example, if the owner changes addresses or their name.

However, the procedure is very much the same for getting a replacement title as it is for getting a duplicate title. Visit any County Clerk of Courts Title Office in Ohio with a completed application and the title fee and ask them to issue a replacement title.

Proof of Ownership and Lienholder Approval

Bring a driver's license and car registration to show ownership of the vehicle. The owner will also need proof of a new address or name when that information on the previously issued title needs to be changed.

If there is a lien on the vehicle at the time duplicate title is sought, contact the lien holder to get their approval before making changes to the existing title record.

Certificate of Title for a Repossessed Vehicle

In Ohio, like in many states, when someone buys a vehicle and borrows money to do so, the lender takes back a security interest in the vehicle. If the vehicle owner fails to keep up on their financial obligations to the financial institution that financed the purchase, the lender can repossess the vehicle.

If the owner is unable or unwilling to pay off the balance due, the lender can sell the vehicle, often at auction.

Any individual or entity repossessing a vehicle needs to obtain a repossession title for that vehicle. The creditor selling the vehicle must surrender the Ohio title assigned in the name of the lien holder and pay a title fee. To get this, they must provide:

  • Ohio certificate of title assigned in the name of the lien holder.
  • Certified copy of the security agreement between the debtor and the secured party with the terms of the contract; name and address of both parties; and description of the vehicle, including year, make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Applicant affidavit to establish mileage.
  • Acceptable identification.

The fee for a repossession title is the same as for any other certificate of title in Ohio, $15.

Getting Title to an Inherited Vehicle

When an individual who owns a vehicle dies, title to that vehicle must be transferred to the beneficiary or heir. The precise process for transferring the vehicle title of an inherited car differs depending on how the estate is to be distributed.

In Ohio, the surviving spouse of the deceased has the right to transfer any number of vehicles owned by the deceased valued up to $65,000. Odometer readings are not required.

Required Documents for Survivorship Transfer

The surviving spouse in such a case will require:

  • Current Ohio certificate of title for each vehicle.
  • Surviving spouse affidavit available at any title office.
  • Death certificate for the deceased spouse.

Likewise anyone named as a joint owner on a vehicle title who survives the deceased owner can take title. If they wish to sell or transfer title to someone else, they can complete and sign the title assignment by providing a copy of the death certificate.

If the estate goes to probate, the matter is in the hands of the probate court. The court will determine who owns the vehicle.

Getting Ohio Title for an Out-of-State Vehicle

Vehicle owners who move to Ohio from another state and bring their vehicle need to change their certificate of title to an Ohio title. Learning how to perform an out-of-state car title transfer in Ohio is also important for Ohio residents who purchase an out-of-state vehicle that they intend to keep and use in the state.

All state car title transfer procedures are performed through Ohio's Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This is also called a cross-state car title transfer. To re-title a car that is currently titled in another state, an owner will need the out-of-state title to get started. When a new resident moves to Ohio, they have 30 days to title and register their car in Ohio.

The first step is to get the VIN verified. What is the procedure for verifying an out-of-state VIN number? This can be done with an out-of-state vehicle inspection at any Deputy Registrar's Office. After that, the owner should bring the out-of-state inspection form that issued from the inspection as well as the original title certificate from the previous state to their local BMV office.

When There Is More Than One Owner

If the current out-of-state title is in the names of more than one owner, every owner's signature is required for the transfer. If a lien holder currently has the title, the owner must send them a transfer request form.

The lien holder fills out this form and sends the title to the BMV. The owner will need to bring the lien release to the office to title and register the vehicle.

Anyone living in Ohio who purchases a vehicle with an out-of-state title must follow similar procedures. These documents must be presented to the BMV when someone is buying an out-of-state titled vehicle:

  • Out-of-state certificate of title.
  • Proper identification.
  • Out-of-state vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection.
  • Lien release if any.
  • Payment for title fee.

It is sometimes helpful to obtain and bring a bill of sale to assist the BMV in getting the information it needs about a vehicle and its owners.