Can You Register a Car with a Bill of Sale and No Title?

Can You Register a Car with a Bill of Sale and No Title

Can you register a car with a bill of sale and no title? It can be difficult to register a car with a bill of sale and no title. Moreover, it depends on your state. Usually, it’s a bad idea to buy a car with just a bill of sale. This goes for cars you are getting from family, friends, or people you do not know. The certificate of title is an important piece of paper that shows you really own the car. Without it, you could run into big issues. Sometimes, you might not even be able to register the car with the DMV.

Can You Register a Car with a Bill of Sale and No Title?

DMVs do not directly mention that you can register a car with a bill of sale and no title. Otherwise, many would have abused the system. Sometimes, it depends on the circumstances and the proof you have. Just a bill of sale without a title is typically not enough. Even if the DMV allows the registration, it will be a case of title jumping, which means that the title will be open.

The recommendation is typically to reach out to the DMV and explain the situation so they can suggest a way out. But usually, they will simply deny your registration request. You are not out of options; read on to learn about your other alternatives.

Differences Between a Bill of Sale and a Title

The bill of sale and the certificate of title may seem alike, but they are quite different. Think of the bill of sale as your receipt when you buy a car. It only shows you bought it from the seller. On the other hand, the certificate of title is the paper that legally says you own the vehicle. It’s made by the motor vehicle division or secretary of state.

Some Cars Do Not Have Titles

Sometimes, cars are sold without a title because they can’t get one easily. Sellers might do this to avoid trouble. These cars are often damaged, junk, for parts, or have a certificate of destruction. You won’t know this until you have the original title or the DMV notifies you about the car’s history.

If a car has a salvage label, for example, most states will allow you to repair it to get a rebuilt title. Salvage means an insurance company declares the car a total loss. To rebuild a totaled vehicle, there are strict requirements before it can become roadworthy again.

You’ll need to prove you used the right parts and pass an inspection. Some states only allow you to use a licensed rebuilder. This way, you can get a rebuilt title in your name.

On the flip side, a car might have a lien title, showing it’s still under a loan from a bank. The DMV cannot give you a title if there is a loan. Also, if the old owner owes taxes, you might have to pay them as the new owner.

How to Get a Title for a Vehicle with a Bill of Sale and No Previous Title

Since you can’t register a car with a bill of sale and no title, your option is to get a title. Consider these walkarounds:

1. Get a Bonded Title

A bonded title works like insurance for your vehicle’s ownership. You buy a special bond to prove you own it. Usually, this bond label lasts 3-5 years. If there are no disputes or claims on the title within this period, the car becomes yours. People often use this method when they cannot find their ownership papers, but not all states allow it.

2. Title Quirk in Vermont

The Vermont title loophole is a trick anyone in the US can use in any state to title a vehicle that’s 15 years old or older with just a bill of sale. Vermont is the only state where you can do this. In Vermont, they don’t give titles to cars this old, only a registration. This registration becomes the official title for older cars, and you can turn it into a title in your own state.

3. Contact the Previous Owner

If you can reach the person who previously owned the vehicle, ask them for a new title to transfer to you. But if you have problems with the seller and the title already, this might not be a solution. Also, if the seller is not the previous owner, they can’t get a new title as the title is open. Only the previous registered owner can do that.

This situation is tricky for both parties. If there’s no title, it could mean the car was never properly registered or the title got lost. It might even suggest the seller doesn’t really own the car they are selling.

All in all, be cautious when buying a car that has no title from private sellers. The absence of a title might mean that the car’s history is questionable.

Read also: Own Two Homes? Where to Register a Car

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