An Essential Guide On What To Do If Your Car Title Is Lost Or Destroyed


It’s common for people to lose stuff from time to time; whether it’s due to a move or a house fire, you may lose your car title. It can be a pretty stressful situation to be in, especially if you were planning on selling your car.

However, as the title is the only proof of ownership for your vehicle, it’s an important document that you should get replaced as soon as you can to avoid getting into legal trouble. Here is a simple guide on what you should do if your car title is destroyed or lost.

What Is A Car Title?

A car title proves ownership of a vehicle; without it, you cannot legally prove a car to be yours. The car title is provided when you purchase a vehicle; if you’re buying it on loan, the title remains with the lender until your loan is paid off. It’s an essential document and can be issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Details on the title vary from state to state. Still, the general information includes the name of the owner, the vehicle identification number, the car’s weight or class, the odometer’s reading at the time of purchase, the lienholder’s info if purchased on loan, the buyer’s and seller’s names, date of purchase, related addresses, and signatures of the holders.

Replacement Process

The process of replacement of your vehicle title can be straightforward. However, keep in mind that it can vary from state to state, so ensure that you check your local requirements and have the correct information ready.

Each state’s DMV has specific transaction and title transfer times. Make sure you get your title replaced quickly at the DMV to ensure you can avoid legal trouble. Check-ins happen occasionally, and you may be required to show your car’s title to prove ownership in these instances.

Follow this step-by-step guide to get your car title replaced ASAP.

1.   Apply For A Replacement Title

After finding that your car title is missing, the first thing you need to do is to get the application form for a duplicate title. You can easily find the DMV website of your respected state and download the document directly from there. Print the form and fill in the required information, or if you want additional guidelines, you can go to your nearest DMV office and manually hand in your application.

The website also gives you the option to fill in the details directly and generate an automatic form. Make sure you obtain the application form for a duplicate title, not the original title, as they often get confused with each other.

2.   Collect The Required Paperwork

In addition to filling out the details on your application form, you will need to provide specific identification documents that will help prove your car’s ownership. These will include your driver’s license, car registration, and insurance. You will also need to provide your vehicle identification number, which you can easily locate on your car in the form of a metal tag placed at the front left corner under the windshield.

3.   Complete The Application Form

Make sure all the information in your duplicate title application is accurate. Your vehicle’s title is one of the essential documents and is used to prove ownership of your car in case of accidents or theft. Minor mistakes can turn into huge complications down the line. The form shouldn’t be too complicated to fill; generally, the following information is required.

  • Your name and address
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your car’s license plate number
  • Your car’s VIN
  • Your car’s model, body, and color

4.   Submit The Fee

There’s a small fee for the processing of a duplicate car title. The charges can vary, again, from state to state. Submit the payment with your application and required documents, and you’ll get the duplicate in 15 to 30 days.

If The Title Was In Someone Else’s Name

If your car title was in someone else’s name (for example, if you purchased the car from a private owner, and it was lost before you could transfer the title to your name), then the process of getting a duplicate title isn’t as straightforward. There are two ways you can get the identical title in these circumstances; one solution is to get the previous owner to submit the replacement request and have them sign the duplicate title over to you – if this isn’t possible, you need to get a court order to obtain your car title.

No matter how you carefully keep your important documents, they can end up being lost, destroyed, or even stolen. In these cases, you must obtain a replacement of the said documents as quickly as possible. The process of getting a duplicate title is pretty straightforward unless it wasn’t in your name. In the latter case, you’ll have to go through a relatively long process to obtain your car’s title.



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