A bonded title is a vehicle title that is obtained by purchasing a surety bond. The vehicle title is provided to the vehicle owner with all the legal documents required by state law. A bonded title is needed when a vehicle owner doesn’t have any of the proper documentation available to obtain a title, usually due to a change in ownership. Bonded titles are available in 34 out of 50 US states, as certain states do not allow this method. You may need a bonded title if you have lost the prior title, damaged the prior title, or never received it.
How to get a bonded title
Step 1: Determine if you need a bonded title.
In some cases, a different method of title recovery may be easier than obtaining a bonded title. A bonded title is needed when there is a significant lack of evidence of ownership. If you have a bill of sale and your vehicle is 15 years old or older, you might qualify for the Vermont title loophole (also known as the Bill of Sale Title method). Look into similar methods of title recovery first before proceeding with a bonded title.
Step 2: Research your state’s requirements
The requirements to obtain a bonded title vary by state. The bonded title application form can be found online on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. Some states also require an inspection of your vehicle before you apply for a bonded title. This can include an emissions inspection, VIN verification, or other general inspection. Inspections will vary by state but are generally completed by licensed garages or other mechanics in your area.
In some cases, residents of non-bonded title states may be able to obtain a bonded title through Vermont. Bonded titles are a valid method of title recovery only in the following states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
Step 3: Purchase your surety bond
A surety bond is basically an agreement between you, the surety company, and the state DMV that says you are the legal owner of the vehicle. The bond also states that if the DMV finds out that there is a discrepancy regarding the ownership of this vehicle, it will not be held liable. In other words, if someone comes forward stating that they own this car and you falsely applied for a bonded title, you will be responsible for reimbursing the DMV for any costs incurred in correcting this situation. The surety bond amount is typically required to be 1.5 times the book value of the vehicle. Most surety bonds cost around $100-$150 to obtain for average-valued vehicles. You are not required to pay 1.5x the value of your vehicle, only a small fraction to secure the surety bond.
Step 4: Submit your application to your local DMV
Once you’ve purchased your surety bond, you can submit your completed application to the DMV. Make sure to review all state regulations and have all inspections done prior to submitting your application. Applications that are incomplete will most likely be rejected.
The good news is you do have options to get a vehicle titled without the proper paperwork. You can apply for a bonded title on your car, which may or may not be successful depending on your state’s laws. To be successful in using this method of title recovery, ensure that you learn about all applicable laws in your jurisdiction and abide by all inspection regulations. Even if you’re missing the proper paperwork, if it’s your car, you deserve a title.