A lost car title can be a nightmare, especially if the incident that caused you to lose the title was a little bit more serious than dropping it in a puddle. If you previously had a car title in your name but that document is lost, stolen, or damaged, you may be eligible to file for a lost title. A lost title can be a headache and limits what you can do with your vehicle. Losing your title can be an anxiety-inducing situation, but don’t hit the panic button, this article will teach you the basics of how to file for a lost title.
How to file for a lost title when you were the last titled owner
If you were the last titled owner, you can apply for a duplicate title with your local DMV. To qualify for this process, you must submit a duplicate title application and you must have been the last titled owner of the vehicle. If you were not the last titled owner, you cannot receive a duplicate title and must obtain a title using a different method. The DMV keeps records of all titled owners and upon submission of your application, your local DMV will review their title records to validate your claim of ownership. Once this is verified, the DMV will send you your duplicate title.
The process and fees associated with filing for a duplicate title vary from state to state. However, it’s important to note that duplicate titles can only be issued in the states where they were last titled. For example, if you live in Louisiana but your car was last titled in Illinois, you can only get a duplicate title from Illinois, you won’t be eligible for a duplicate title in Louisiana. Most state DMVs allow for duplicate titles to be processed in person and via mail. Always refer to your local DMV website or call them if you have specific questions regarding the process in your state.
How to file for a lost title when you were not the last titled owner
If you were not the last titled owner, you can file for a new title but you won’t be eligible to receive a duplicate title if the original was lost or stolen. The DMV will not issue a duplicate title to anyone other than the last titled owner. However, there are over 20 different methods to obtain a vehicle title depending on the situation and supporting documentation. Here are the top 3 ways to get a title when you were not the last titled owner:
Prior owner contact
This method involves contacting the prior owner of the vehicle and asking them if they will obtain a duplicate title and transfer it into your name. Prior owner transfer is one of the easiest ways to get a title, but only if the prior owner is willing to cooperate and you’re able to find them. If you don’t know the prior owner, you can submit a DPPA request to your state’s DMV for the motor vehicle record. The DMV may take up to a few months to process your request due to the legal nature of providing protected driver information. Not all states, such as Arkansas, allow for this type of request.
A bonded title is obtained by buying a bond, also known as a surety bond, from an insurance company. You take the bond to your local DMV along with all required documents. A surety bond secures the title and backs up your claim of ownership; it protects the state DMV from liability if there were to be a discrepancy of ownership.
The amount of the surety bond must be 1.5x the value of the vehicle. Each state may require a different book value for the surety bond amount to be based on, some states require the average trade-in value while others require the clean trade-in value. You don’t have to pay 1.5x the value of your vehicle, just a fraction of that cost. Most surety bonds for motor vehicle titles cost around $100-$150 but may be more with higher-valued vehicles.
Vermont title loophole
If you have a vehicle that is 15 years old or older, you may be eligible for the Vermont title loophole. Vermont is a non-titling district, meaning they do not produce titles for vehicles over 15 years old. When a vehicle over 15 years old is registered in Vermont, the registration is equivalent to a title. Vehicle owners can then use that registration document as their proof of ownership and transfer it to a title in their state.
The best part about the Vermont loophole is that you don’t have to be a resident of Vermont or go to Vermont to use this method. Vermont is the only state that allows this process for out-of-state residents.
The best method for filing a car title depends on your circumstances. If you were the last titled owner in the DMV records, you can apply for a duplicate title. If you were not the last titled owner but lost the title before you could transfer it, you will need to pursue another method of title recovery. Regardless of the title recovery method, if it’s your car, you deserve to have your name on the title.