How to Replace a Lost Title On a Car You Own
Your car's title is essential to proving legitimate ownership, and losing one can come with significant legal consequences. Luckily, replacing a car's title is easy at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- First, gather documents to provide proof of ownership. Requirements vary from state-to-state, but you'll likely need your driver's license, social security number, VIN, email address, and any vehicle loan paperwork. Once you have the documents, visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website to find a form known as an "Affidavit of Loss or Release".
- Fill the affidavit out completely and accurately. Then, have the registered owner (in all likelihood, you) sign the form at the bottom. Depending on your state's requirements, you may need to get the affidavit notarized.
- Mail the completed form in or drop it off personally to the Department of Licensing (DOL) or DMV. You'll also be required to pay a small title replacement fee. Once everything is settled and submitted, your new title should arrive in the mail in several weeks.
If you live in a title-holding state and purchased your car on loan, the process can be even more straightforward. A title-holding state requires lienholders to hold on to your title for you until the loan is paid off. You are still the registered owner, but the burden of holding on to and keeping track of a car title is not on you.
There are several states that do not require title-holding, including:
- New York
- South Dakota
If you reside anywhere else in the United States, you don't need to worry about your car title until you complete the loan-paying process. If you do end up losing or having your title stolen after it's in your possession, you can follow the same procedures above to replace it.
Reasons Someone May Not Have Their Car Title
There are two main reasons someone may no longer have the title to their vehicle. Either their title is lost, or it was stolen.
What Should I Do If My Title Is Stolen?
If your title is stolen, the first thing you should do is file a report with the police. Car titles can be used by forgeries and other criminals for various fraudulent activities. For example, scammers can forge false information onto your car title and pass it off as identifying documents for a stolen vehicle.
Criminals can also use the title to register your vehicle to their name, so the local DOL or DMV will believe the car is theirs. While law enforcement agents may sort these out eventually, you could lose time and money waiting for your title or vehicle to be returned.
Because of its higher value, a clean title is more likely to be stolen. Therefore, it is always best to ensure clean titles are stored carefully, so scammers have a more challenging time getting your high-value documents.
What Should I Do If My Title Is Lost?
Misplacing or losing your car's title is nothing to be ashamed of. Considering that most licensing departments recommend you keep the title outside of the vehicle, these documents can often get lost amongst other paperwork stored in your home.
Fortunately, the process for replacing a lost title is simple and almost identical to replacing a stolen license; the only difference is you don't need to make a report to the police.
How To Replace A Lost Or Stolen Title
The three steps to replacing your car's title are simple:
Fill Out Affidavit Of Loss Form
Filling out your Affidavit of Loss form involves providing your full legal name, current address, and driver's license number. First, you'll visit your region's DMV or DOL website and find the correct form. Then, you'll provide your personal details, as well as information about your vehicle.
These details include things like the license plate number and VIN, as well as the year, make, and model. If you don't have certain data about your vehicle on hand, you can use a vehicle search engine to find this information.
You'll also need a photocopy of your ID and insurance card. If you have a loan for your vehicle, you may need to provide any financial paperwork concerning that loan or active lien. In some states, you may have to provide an inspection slip, notary stamp, and proof of paid property taxes.
Sign and Notarize
Once you've filled out the form and double-checked it for accuracy, you'll need to put your signature at the bottom along with the current date. This is just as important as providing other pieces of your personal information; your signature helps prove your identity and shows that you authorize the form's purpose.
While not all states require an Affidavit of Loss to be notarized, you'll want to check online whether or not your local DMV or DOL requires it. If you do need the document notarized, the process is simple. You can find a notary public online who will stamp and sign the document, often electronically. Once complete, the form will be ready for delivery.
Mail Or Drop Off to DOL/DMV
Many states don't allow the electronic submission of an Affidavit of Loss, so you will likely have to mail or drop off the document personally.
You will also need to pay the replacement title fee, which varies from state to state. This process is usually referred to as a "duplicate title request". This fee can range from $25 to $80 and includes handling fees.
Once all fees are paid, and all documents are submitted, your duplicate title should arrive in the mail. This can take several weeks, depending on where you live and how backed up your DMV is. Your title may arrive in a much shorter time, but there isn't much you can do to track this. Don't worry; your replacement car title is on its way!
Car Title Replacement Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Car Title?
A car title is a legal document that establishes you (or, in some cases, a business) as the legal owner of a vehicle. Car titles are issued by a governing body within the state the car was purchased. This is usually the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Department of Licensing (DOL).
What Should I Do If My Car Title Is Stolen?
If your car title is stolen, the first thing you should do is speak with a local law enforcement agency. You'll likely have to provide various important vehicle details, including your make, model, year, and license plate number. By filing a report, you can sometimes recover the car title or any other stolen items. This way, you won't need to go through the process of replacement.
If your title isn't recovered, you can visit your local DMV website to find the appropriate replacement forms. You'll then fill them out, notarize them if required by law, and turn them in to the DMV.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Title
The fee to replace a car title varies state-by-state, and it's best to check your local DMV or DOL website to see what those fees will be. For example, in Washington State, the cost to replace a car title is $31, and it's known as "applying for a duplicate title". Some states, like Washington, will also give you the option to rush the job. Expediting the process incurs a Quick Title cost, which usually starts around $50.
What Is An Affidavit Of Loss?
An Affidavit of Loss is the form you need to replace a lost or stolen car title. The form needs to be filled out completely with the necessary personal and vehicle information. Once completed, you may need to notarize it depending on your state's licensing laws. You'll then turn it in via mail or DMV drop-off and wait for your duplicate title to arrive.
Where Can I Find Title Replacement Forms?
Title replacement forms, like an Affidavit of Loss or Release of Interest, can be found on your local DMV or DOL website. You can usually find a PDF form by searching "affidavit of loss" and your state in a search engine. You can either print this form out and enter the information with a pen or type it in, then print it out to send in the mail. Most states do not allow electronic submission of car title replacement forms, so check to see what your states allow for the submission process.
How Long Does It Take To Replace A Car Title?
The process to ship your new car title can take several weeks, but the entire process depends on your specific situation and the state you live in. If someone stole your car title, the process might take longer to complete while law enforcement conducts an investigation.
Filling out an Affidavit of Loss does not take long at all, provided you have all the required information on hand. Finding a notary may take a bit of time, but the process to notarize a document is very quick. Overall, expect several weeks before a new car title is securely in your hands.
How Can I Get Vehicle Information
For A Title Replacement?
If for whatever reason, you don't have all the necessary information on the vehicle whose title needs to be replaced, you need to use a vehicle search engine. These services can help you find valuable data for title replacement and the entire car-buying process. Whether you need to find a VIN number, residual value, vehicle history reports, or vehicle recalls, vehicle search engines like GoodCar can help.
You need to know everything about your vehicle, and we want to help. Find the information you need before purchasing and get the car-buying experience you deserve by Trying GoodCar today!
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