You can prove you own a car without a title if it’s lost. However, you need to use other methods to show proof of ownership of car without title. Usually, a car title shows you own the car. But what if you can’t find it? That can make things tricky, but you can take some steps to prove it is your car and registered in your name.
What Does Car Title Mean?
A car title is a certificate that proves you are the car’s rightful owner. There are typically four main car titles, including clean, clear, salvage, and rebuilt.
- A clean car title means the car was never badly damaged or “totaled” in a big accident. When cars are in serious accidents or stolen, insurance companies might write them off as a total loss. If a car has a clean title, it means it was never called a total loss by an insurance company.
- A clear title means you’re the only one who owns the car. You don’t owe any money to a lender for it.
- A salvage title is given when something bad happens to a car that makes it worth much less. This could be from an accident, theft, or a big repair. Usually, if a car loses over 75% of its value because of damage, it gets a salvage title.
- A rebuilt title means the car was once a salvage but got fixed up to be used on the road again.
Not everyone who owns a car gets a car title. You usually get one if you paid for the car with cash or finished paying off your car loan. But if you borrowed money to buy the car and still owe money to the lender, they might keep the title until you have paid everything. Once you have paid off the loan, you can ask for a copy of the title. A title contains the following information:
- Owner’s name and address
- Car make, model, and year
- VIN (vehicle identification number)
- How many miles the car has been driven
- Registration date
The title might have the lender’s name if you owe them money for the car. It could also say if the car was fixed after being wrecked.
Proof of Ownership of Car Without Title
If you cannot find your car title, there are other ways to show proof of ownership of car without title.
Duplicate Title for a Car
If you fully own your car, getting a duplicate title is simple. Just ask your state where your car is registered for a copy. In some states, you can go online to request a new copy of your title. It’s fast and easy if your state offers this option. Alternatively, you can send your application for a duplicate title by mail to use as proof of ownership of car without title. This might take more time compared to doing it online or in person.
In Illinois, for example, you can’t get a new title right after you get the first one. If you recently got a replacement title, you can’t get another one immediately. When you get the new title from the state, the old one doesn’t count anymore. So if you find the old one after getting a new one, it’s better to dispose of it to avoid any mix-ups.
Lienholder’s Duplicate Copy
In many states, when you buy a car with a loan, the ownership papers stay with the bank until you finish paying for the car. So, to get your own copy of the ownership papers, you have to finish paying off the loan. Once you have paid everything you owe, the bank will usually tell the DMV, and they will give you new ownership papers.
Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO)
If you bought a new car from a dealership, you can prove you own it by asking the dealership for a certificate of origin. This certificate allows the dealership to transfer ownership of the car to you. With MCO as proof of ownership of car without title, you can then get the car titled and registered. Usually, when you buy the car, the dealership sends this certificate to the local DMV to register the vehicle. The certificate of origin contains the following information:
- Manufacturer’s name and address
- Car’s make, model, and year
- The date when ownership changed
- The new owner’s name
- The manufacturer’s agent’s signature (or stamp).
If you can’t get a title in any other way, you might be able to get a bonded title as proof of ownership of car without title. You usually don’t need a bonded title if your title is lost or stolen when it’s already in your name. But here are times when a bonded title could help you:
- You bought the vehicle from a private seller, but they didn’t give you a title when you bought it.
- You bought the vehicle from a private seller who gave you an open title.
- The seller gave you a title, but it got lost or stolen before you could put the car in your name.
The steps in getting a bonded title can be different depending on the state you’re in. Here’s a basic idea of what you might have to do.
- Have the car inspected by the DMV or the police.
- You have to fill out a form with your name and why you want to get the bond for the title.
- Notify the previous owner and the company that had a claim on it (if there was one).
- Buy the bond for the title.
- Put your signature on the paper, usually in the presence of a notary.
- Collect your purchase receipts to support your application. These usually have information about the car’s year, make, model, and identification number.
- After filling out the application, send it to the DMV office and be patient while you wait for your paperwork to arrive.
Can I Transfer Ownership of a Car Without the Title?
Yes, in some states, you can transfer ownership of a car without the title. However, it often requires additional steps, such as obtaining a duplicate title or using alternative documentation such as a bill of sale. The possibility depends on your local laws and regulations. Usually, you have to consult with your local DMV or relevant agency for guidance.