If you’ve lost, damaged, or had your car title stolen: don’t panic. This bad bit of luck isn’t the end of the world. It can be remedied. The process of how to get a replacement car title can vary from state to state, but this guide can get you started.
It will take a bit of time, money, and pulling together some data, but it’s worth having your car title back safely in your possession. We’ll walk you through the process, so you can come out of the other side with all the necessary documentation and everything legal and ready to hit the road.
Here are three tips on how to get a car title replacement:
Step 1: Fill Out the Proper Application for a Replacement Car Title in Your State
Oh, joy. Paperwork. But more paperwork is a necessary first step to securing the paperwork you actually want; that car title document. So first things first find the correct application.
More often than not, your state’s DMV website will have the application .pdf so you can just print it out yourself. Occasionally they’ll have an option where you can fill out the replacement car title application online. You may be able to fax in the required documents.
To find that online application, you’ll want to head to http://www.dmv.org/. There’s a drop- down menu right at the top of the page that tells you to “Choose Your State.” Select your state, and it’ll take you to your state’s DMV website. From there, you should be able to search around for an application or replacement car title form.
Or you can just go straight to the source (the ever intimidating DMV) and fill it out in person. Physically going to the DMV to fill out your car title replacement application is annoying, but it’s typically the most direct path to getting your new car title. They’ll be able to tell you what I.D.s you need or anything else you might need to fill out, rather than you accidentally missing a step on your own and having to do the application twice.
When you’re faxing, mailing, or submitting your car title replacement application online, it tends to take several extra days in processing and approval time. The fastest and most efficient method is just braving the waiting in line at your local DMV. But being prepared in advance will help make that trip a little smoother and more streamlined.
As always, these things are tedious time-suckers. But if you want to continue to legally drive your car, you’ve got to just get it done and your application filled out and submitted… as soon as possible! An important reminder: the longer you go without a car title in your name, the greater chance you have of running into legal problems. A trip to the DMV is preferable to getting arrested, right?
Step 2: Make Sure You Have All the Necessary Materials Before You Submit the Application
Again, different states will have different requirements, but most everywhere will require some proof that you are who you say you are, and that the car really does belong to you. So that means that they’ll want a minimum of two different forms of government issued I.D.
To save yourself some time and stress, you should gather up everything you might potentially need before walking into the DMV with your car title replacement application in your hand. For example, if your social security card and birth certificate are in a safety deposit box, go ahead and pull those out so they’ll be ready to go. Dig around to find your passport, military I.D.s or whatever you need to verify your identity.
You’ll also need to pull out every scrap of paperwork that proves that your car belongs to you, fully and truly. Having all this documentation ready and organized will make your life easier, and the people at the DMV will breathe a sigh of relief that you’re actually on top of things. It makes the whole process that much smoother.
To find out what documents you’ll need to bring into the DMV to secure your replacement car title, you can either check your state’s DMV website for the application requirements, or just call up your local DMV and ask. Sometimes the mandatory documents required will be listed at the top or bottom of the application itself, so read it over carefully.
Your replacement car title application will ask you for information such as:
- Your contact information (address, phone number, legal name, social security number, etc.)
- Your driver’s license number
- Your vehicle identification number (VIN)
- The make, model, year, color, title holder information, and lienholder information (if applicable)
You might also need to know the number of miles currently on your car, or your car’s estimated worth. That’ll require a quick check of your odometer, and maybe a bit of pricing research. You can usually check that out with the Kelley Blue Book at www.kbb.com/. This is usually helpful, anyway, since many people in need of a replacement car title are doing so because they’re ready to sell their car and need all the proper legal documentation to make the sale and title transfer. Knowing the estimated value of your vehicle is something you’d need anyway in that case.
Many states also require that you sign the car title replacement application form in front of them at the DMV or in front of a Public Notary. Someone at the DMV or the Public Notary often needs to sign the application as a witness. So hold off on signing the application until you’re told otherwise. You don’t want to have to fill out all the required information again, right?
Make a quick list of everything you think you might need according to the information listed on the DMV’s website, or provided for you by someone at the DMV offices; proof of auto insurance, old registration papers in your name, several valid I.D.s, etc.
Get it all together in a folder BEFORE you try to submit your replacement car title application. It’ll make everything faster, easier, and more pleasant if you come in prepared and knowing what’s needed.
Step 3: DoubleCheck for the Required Fees and Information That You’ll Need to Provide
Yes, replacing your car title costs money, unfortunately. Even if some jerk stole your car title, or your pet pig ate the title, it’s going to require some kind of fee. But on the bright side, you’re almost done and almost in possession of your new car title replacement.
The fee varies from state to state, and can vary pretty widely. For example, in Utah, the car title replacement fee is as small as just $6. But in Oregon, it could cost you as much as $55.
Check your state’s DMV website to find more information on title replacement fees. Your state’s DMV website will also probably list the required fee for a replacement car title somewhere near where it lists the required documents. Make sure you read over the information thoroughly.
Sometimes there will be just one lump fee, but occasionally the fees are broken down into smaller parts for things like credit card processing fees, online application convenience fees, etc. Always reading the fine print will prevent any surprises at the DMV. Before your trip to the DMV, gather up all the required documents and the money required for your fee, in addition to the application if you printed it out yourself. Remember, it’s probably smarter to just wait to sign it until you get to the DMV. They might ask you to sign the application in front of them, or they might be required to sign it as a witness; just as a safety policy.
Again, some states allow you to mail in your replacement car title application form, fax it, or submit it online. But if you’re not sure, it’ll probably save you some time and a couple extra steps to just take everything to the DMV yourself. You’ll usually receive your car title replacement a bit faster that way, since you’re not waiting for the application to arrive before being processed.
Speaking of, that’s the last irritating thing you’ll have to deal with before receiving your replacement car title for real. State governments are bureaucratic enough that everything has to be processed, checked, and doublechecked before being given the final “ok.” So be prepared to wait a while before you have your new car title in hand.
It usually only takes a few business days for your application to be processed, but it could take up to a couple weeks before everything is approved and your replacement car title is actually sent to you. The typical minimum wait time is usually about 4 business days, but it depends on the state and the timing.
Some Extra Tips for People Looking to Replace a Car Title
The above three tips are for people who are replacing a lost, stolen, or damaged car title that was in their own name. If the original owner of the car is deceased, or you don’t know the previous owner and you need a replacement car title, then you’ll have to go through a different process, in all likelihood.
If that’s the case, and you need a car title replacement from someone else’s name put into your own, then you can call up the DMV and ask some questions. They might be able to point you in the right direction. There are also private firms that specialize in this kind of car title replacing. Lost Title Solutions is one such firm. Do a bit of research to find a title replacement firm near you; they can usually help.
Another tip for people looking to replace their car titles: don’t use a mechanic’s lien. Just don’t. For people who need to replace birth certificates, replace passports, get copies of deeds, or replace or duplicate other important documents, you’ll go through a very similar process, but through different government departments. Sometimes, people have their entire important document collection stolen, destroyed in home fires, misplaced, or lose them in some other unexpected event.
While these documents can be replaced, it’s an added stress to what’s probably already been a stressful situation. The best way to avoid this happening to you in the future is to store all your documents someplace safe.
A safety deposit box in your bank is a good place. Laminating documents is also helpful, but make sure you’re not laminating something that is considered void if you alter it, like your birth certificate or social security card. Use photocopies of your documents whenever you can, rather than pulling out the original document as risking it getting lost, damaged, or swiped.
A fireproof safe is a more expensive, but more convenient option for people who want to keep all their important documents at home within easy reach. They cost as little as $37 for a small homesized safe. Organizing your documents into folders can also help prevent them from being lost, mixed up, or misplaced. It’ll also help speed up the process if you ever have to go through replacing a car title or other document again.
Avoid keeping documents like car titles in your wallet, car’s glovebox, or your basement. The first two for the more obvious reasons like potential theft or damages. But you should also avoid keeping these documents in your basement in case of floods, mildew and mold, or pests that like to snack on paper, like mice or insects. Store documents in a cool, dry place out of harm’s way. For more information and tips of how to get a car title replacement, visit http://www.dmv.org/replacingalosttitle.php. There you can check for your state’s replacement car title requirements and additional steps you might have to complete before getting your replacement request processed and approved.