How do you make dealing with the DMV to get a title for a vehicle easier? Well, the first thing to do is before you even go to the DMV or mail anything to them. Check out what all the requirements are. Do your research online. A lot of times, people will go into the DMV with the paperwork they have and say, “I’m going to get a title.” Well, in every state, in order to get a new title or registration, there are certain forms that have to be filled out. There’s a checklist, and if you go into the DMV unprepared, usually the clerk can’t help you put all that together or fill out the form, or maybe it’s not going to be convenient. They might give you the form and tell you to go back at the end of the line and fill it out and come back when you’re done, or they might tell you that. The form is on the desk; go get it, fill it out, and come back in line. It’ll just take extra time, and you won’t know if you’re missing something in advance. So we’re going to walk through an example of how to do this all in advance to save you time. And speed up the process of getting your title so that you won’t have to make four or five trips to the DMV and get rejected for it.

The first thing to do is to do research online, and our website has it for free at the DMV in your state. What is required from the DMV? So here we’re going to take a look at the state of Pennsylvania. Just as an example, they have a whole page. When buying or selling a vehicle, the first thing your advisor is going to tell you is that the buyer and seller should meet, and in that state, you should be able to obtain acceptable proof of ownership, and they will tell you the list. You can either get an MSO or CO, but only if you’re buying a new car from a dealer. You can get a Pennsylvania certificate of title. You can have an out-of-state certificate of title certificate of salvage, and that means if you’re buying it from a junkyard, you’ll get a certificate of salvage. You’ll remember that all of those forms are official government forms. They’re not a bill of sale, which is not something somebody writes by hand. It’s an official government form that will be properly signed over to you. If you don’t have one of those, you may be able to get a court order, which is another process; we’ll talk about that a little later. So once you have that, then what do you do? to transfer the title. 

First, you have to get the form for ST. They will tell you what you need to provide, including several items that were sent to the agent. This is where it’s important to have these things with you when you come in. You’re going to have to have a driver’s license because most states don’t issue titles to non-residents. Acceptable identification items: If you’re in business, you have to have an insurance identification card. You would fill out another form if it was a gift, but once you have all of those, you have the title and your ID. And for that form, we recommend getting it and filling it out in advance before you go there. So that way, if you find you don’t have the information or you make a mistake, you can fix it. Almost every state also has a fact sheet with instructions for completing the form. 

What you need: There are the instructions for that form: white, yellow, and pink copies; and you need to tell who gets the ownership transfer. According to the assignment information on the certificate of title, it must be completed that way. You’ll know if your title is properly signed over. You’ll know that in advance before you go there many times. We’ve had clients that have had titles. They’ve gone down to the DMV and said, “Here’s my title; I want to get a new one, but it’s been filled out wrong or something’s missing.” And the DMV will either revoke that title or take possession of it. Now you don’t have a title, so make sure it’s all done correctly before you go. There are instructions about the vehicle and the make of the vehicle. It’ll tell you to put the example of the make Ford instead of the model of Mustang. A lot of times, people will make that mistake. It’ll tell you to fill in the blanks. That says the make, and they put Mustang instead of Forward, and that’ll make it void. As an application, put the year in the VIN number. Make sure the VIN number matches. You also have to include the seller’s information. If there’s a lien holder, you’ll need to put that, but it’ll have the applicant’s full first and last names. Do not use nicknames. Remember that it says here that the applicant’s name is to be listed on their certificate application as it appears on their valid Pennsylvania ID. So if your name is Joe Schmoe on your ID, you know you don’t want to put Joe Joseph Schmoe on the application because it would get rejected due to the date of birth if there’s a co-purchaser. How do I do the address, right? PO Box numbers may be used, but not as the only address. If you’re in the military, it tells you how to do that. 

The point is, if you read through this prior to going to the DMV, you’ll know if the form being filled out is going to have all the information needed. Half the time that people go down to the DMV to fill out these forms, they may be missing one piece of information. You may not know until you get there. If you read through everything in advance, it will save you a trip because here’s the thing: One of the most difficult processes is going to the DMV to fill out forms. So you don’t want to have to do it twice. It’ll tell you how to look up the county code for your county’s residents, so you don’t have to look it up when you’re there. If there was a trade-in, usually that doesn’t apply to private sales. If you’re applying for registration at the same time, you can do that also at PennDot, and again, it goes through the checklist very thoroughly of what you need to do. When you’re done, you have to sign the certification, saying that all statements on this form are true and correct, and you want to think about that when you fill out the form. Look at it again. Is everything here correct? Because if it’s not correct, they can send your title to the wrong address, put the wrong VIN number, or put the wrong driver’s license number. You can’t fix it later. We have many, many clients. Who has come to us and said, “Look, I bought this car; I had a title?” I submitted it. As it turns out, it’s for the wrong vehicle. Maybe the seller gave a title to their other car, or maybe there was an error on the VIN number. If you sign it, you’re verifying that you have looked at everything and it’s all correct. So make sure you double-check that. 

And then it’ll go over what the taxes and fees are. They’ll calculate that usually at the time, but at least if you have it filled out correctly before you go there. You won’t waste your time trying to fill it out at the desk at the DMV while people are waiting and the numbers are clicking off on the board and you’re going to lose your place in line, or if you’re going to find out if there’s something else you need that you have sitting right on your desk at home and could have brought with you if you knew about it, the same thing. It talks about mobile homes or manufactured homes. Again, this is one example from Pennsylvania, but almost every state has the same thing. This isn’t even the form to fill out. This is just an instruction. When you look at the form, usually you can get a copy of it online and print it on your home printer. You don’t want to expect that the DMV will have a blank form. Sometimes they run out. If you go to the DMV and they run out of these forms, you’re out of luck. So print it out at home. Or if you don’t have a printer, go to the library or go to some office supply store where you can print it out; print three or four copies. So if you mess one up, you have a backup. And even when you go to the DMV, bring more than one copy in case you have to change something, keep one, or modify one, but the forms are pretty self-explanatory. They have boxes to fill out, and sometimes you can do them online. You just type in the information here on the form, and you print it out. We recommend it if you can. Fill it in using your computer. 

Whether you have things are very legible if you hand-write them in a scrawl and they can’t read them. Sometimes that’s the reason they send you away from the DMV counter because they can’t read them. And they’re just—you know, they don’t have enough time to fix your problem with your application if you type it in on your computer and then print it; it’s very legible and very neat. The DMV employees appreciate that. And sometimes, if there’s some latitude where they can help you out a little bit, they’ll be more willing to do it. If they see that you’ve done things that make their lives easier, having most of the stuff done before you go to the DMV or if you’re going to mail it in before you mail it in will significantly improve the results that you get because the DMV is not like a private company. 

When you go to, let’s say, Best Buy or the cell phone store and you have to fill out a form, they make it very easy because they want to sell you a phone, a TV, or whatever it is because they’re a private company trying to do more business at the DMV. It’s a government agency. It’s not like they’re out to get you, but at the same time, there’s no competition. There’s not a competing DMV down the street that will get your business if this one doesn’t; in fact, if they get a properly done application, now they have to do work where. Anyone they can kick out kind of makes their life easier. They’re not bad people. They’re not trying to hurt you. They’re not trying to make your life more difficult. It’s just that it’s a very high-turnover job, and their budget is very low. You know that government budgets are severely restricted; they don’t have, you know, sales revenue or profits that they can use to make things better. Facilities hire more people. So they’re always understaffed. That’s why there are long lines out front of the DMV. You never see big lines at Target or Walmart because if there’s a line at one register, what do they do? They’d call up on that thing you know about more people going to check out number 22. Because they want to have shorter lines at the DMV, but they don’t have more people they can call because their budgets are lower. 

So make it easier for the DMV person, and they will more likely try to make it easier for you. And remember, if there’s a problem, don’t take it out on them. It’s not their fault. They have to go by what the rules are. And this is another reason why. Have you looked at these fact sheets, and do you know what the rules are in advance? You won’t have a problem when they tell you the rules. When you get there, you can even go so far as to print out a copy of the checklist and bring it with you, highlighting everything. I have all these things, and if they say, “Well, you also need this other thing,” you can say, “No, it’s right here on the form. I don’t need that.” Many times, the interpretation of the DMV person you’re dealing with about that window is incorrect. It’s not their fault. It’s not that they’re trying to get you or that you know they’re stupid. It’s just that. A lot of times, the training isn’t as deep as you might expect; maybe they’re new. Maybe it’s a high-turnover job. 

But if you know the rules, you can help. Have them see what the rules are that apply to you and get your application for a title or registration done sooner. So for all these forms, you can download them for free from our website, We have every form from every state that you can download for free; there are over a thousand forms on the website. There are over 500 videos that will walk you through. of these forms, how to fill them out, and what to put on them, and that’s all free. If you do the work yourself, it’s all free. There’s an option. If you want to have us help you, we’re glad to do it. But the key to the whole thing is to make your DMV experience easier by doing as much of the work as you can in advance. If you just come in and show up with a box of papers and no application filled out, you’re again putting your problem on the DMV person, and that’s not really their job. You are probably used to that at a private company because the private company wants to do more business. You know if you walk into an insurance agency and say, “Hey look, I don’t know what to do; I have all these papers,” that insurance agent will help you because they’re trying to sell another policy to get more commission. So there’s a difference in mentality between a private company and a government agency. So when you’re dealing with that agency, be a little more understanding about what their world is like and try to make it easy for them to fill everything out. And I guarantee you your experience will be better, and it’ll be easier for them to assist you because you’ve already kind of assisted yourself before you got there.