How Do I Get a Title for a Car That Doesn't Have One?

By Sandra Dalton paralegal - Updated June 19, 2017
Car on asphalt road in summer

There are several ways to get a title for a vehicle that does not have one. The best method will depend on why the title is missing. The process and requirements are different in each state.

File for Lost Title

If the title was in your name and you have lost the document or it was destroyed, you can file for lost title to get a replacement. This is the simplest scenario. You file the request with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or similar agency. Most states provide the forms online. You will be required to prove that you are the owner of the vehicle and there will be a small fee.

Abandoned Vehicle Title

If the title was not in your name, you may be able to get an abandoned vehicle title. The laws regarding “abandoned” vehicles vary greatly from state to state, but there are some basic common aspects. The vehicle identification number (VIN) is used to try and identify the title holder. You must try to notify that owner what is going on and he or she will have a certain amount of time to respond.

No Record of the Vehicle

When there is no record of the vehicle, you may be able get a bonded title. The bonded title is backed by a surety bond in the amount of the vehicle’s value. The bond is temporary, lasting three years in most states. As long as the previous owner does not try to claim the vehicle before the bond expires, you will get a normal title after the bond period.

About the Author

Sandra Dalton began her writing career in 2000, authoring a weekly column about freedom. She received her paralegal certificate from the Center for Legal Studies. Dalton also completed Clayton College's Holistic Care for Companion Animals certificate course and has worked as a veterinary assistant.

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