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What is a Vehicle Title Number?

Similar to a VIN number, a title number is an identification tool containing seven or eight characters arranged in a specific sequence. These numbers are sometimes referred to by the Department of Motor Vehicles as control or document numbers. These numbers contain essential information about a vehicle, and can help you with important tasks like:

  • Locating a lost or stolen title
  • Applying for a lien
  • Insuring a vehicle

So what exactly is a vehicle title number, and why is it important?

What is a Vehicle Title Number?

Vehicle title numbers are printed on car titles, which are legal documents proving ownership of a vehicle. They contain seven or eight digits and are generally located in the "information" section of your car's title. A title number is usually used to locate a vehicle, though it won't yield the same information that a VIN number or car history report could.

A vehicle title number will also often be required to acquire a lien or insure a vehicle. If you intend to register or sell your vehicle, the DMV will require that you provide your vehicle title number along with other important details. If you've lost your title, a vehicle title number can help you find or replace it. If you want to find your vehicle title number, it should be above your VIN number on your car's title.

What is a Car Title?

A car title is the document you receive when purchasing a vehicle that shows any governing body or law enforcement agent you are the car's legal owner. Besides your vehicle title number, your car title will include important details like:

  • Name and Address: Your title will have your full legal name and current address printed on it to help identify you as the legal owner.
  • License Plate Number: Your full license plate number should be printed on your car title near your name and address.
  • VIN Number: Your vehicle identification number, also known as a VIN, is a 17 character sequence of numbers and letters. This number will be unique to your vehicle and is one of the best tools to help identify you as the car's owner.
  • Make, Model and Year: A car title will also contain the vehicles make, model, and year; a vehicle's make refers to the manufacturer who created the car, the model is the name of the line of products that vehicle is in, and the year is simply the year the car was constructed.
  • Technical Information: The technical information section of your car title will have details relating to the vehicle's power, purchase price, and gross weight. It also may have additional technical details depending on the vehicle's manufacturer and total age.
  • Lienholder Information: A lien is a lender's way of assuring they will receive repayment for a loan. As the lienholder, the lender will need full payment before a car can be resold. Your title should contain all information related to liens and the lienholder.
  • Title Type: Whatever title type your vehicle has should be printed clearly on your car title. There are a variety of different title types, including:
    • Clean: A clean car title indicates a car has never been deemed a loss or salvaged, and usually has a higher resale value.
    • Junk: A junk title means that a car has undergone significant wear or damage, and will likely be disassembled and sold for scrap.
    • Salvage: If a vehicle decreases in value more than 75% of its original worth, it will be given a salvage title. Unlike junk cars, these cars may be drivable after repair and inspection but they will need to attain a new title.
    • Reconstructed: When a car is heavily modified for repaired it is usually given a reconstructed title. This will be issued by the automotive specialist who completed the repairs or the company insuring the vehicle.
    • Bonded: If your vehicle is missing important identification documents, it will be given a bonded title. This is also known as a certificate of surety bond, and it helps establish you as the owner despite the lack of documentation.
    • Rebuilt: Rebuilt titles are very similar to reconstructed titles, and are usually issued after the car has undergone significant repairs.
    • Affidavit: Often associated with car titles, an affidavit will indicate whether your car title has been replaced.
    • Odometer Rollback: If a vehicle's odometer is tampered with to obscure the true mileage, it may receive an odometer rollback title. These titles make the vehicle difficult to insure or sell.
    • Water Damage: A water damage title is assigned to a vehicle after it has gone through a natural disaster involving water damage; these include flooding, hurricanes, or accidents where a vehicle is submerged.
    • Dismantled: Similar to salvage and junk titles, a dismantled title indicates a car has experienced heavy damage and should be dismantled for usable parts.

Vehicle Title Number Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Title Number of a Car?

The title number of your car will be unique, and every registered vehicle will have a different series of numbers to help distinguish it from other cars on the road. The only similarity between all title numbers is the number of digits, but even that can range between seven and eight.

Where to Find Car Title Number?

Your car title number will be located on your vehicle title in the "information" section. This section is generally located above your VIN number, which is a 17-character sequence of numbers and letters.

You can also find a car title on your vehicle registration; it will usually be printed in the same location as the make and model of your vehicle. This information will also be present on your registration renewal invitation.

If for whatever reason you cannot find the title number on any of these documents, you can contact the Department of Motor Vehicles via phone or by going to a physical location. The DMV will have this and all other relevant vehicle information on file, and will provide you with your title number as long as you have documents proving ownership. This usually means a license plate number and photo identification, like a driver's license or passport.

Where Can I Find My Title Number If I Lost My Title?

If you've lost your vehicle title, you'll need to contact your local DMV or visit their website to find more information. Your lien holder may also have your title number if you have yet to pay off your loan in full. If you need to replace your title completely, you'll need to follow three steps.

  • Fill Out an Affidavit of Loss Form: An Affidavit of Loss is a form provided by the DMV to begin the title replacement process. This will also be the form you complete if your title is stolen. You can find this form on your local DMV or DOL website. The document will ask that you fill it in with your driver's license number, full legal name, and current address.
  • Sign the Form and, If Required, Notarize it: Once you have filled out the form completely and checked it carefully for mistakes, you can sign it at the bottom with the current date. If your state requires the form to be notarized, you'll also need to find a notary. This can be done with a quick online search and the notarizing process can usually be completed online.
  • Mail the Form or Drop It Off at the DMV: While it would be more convenient to submit the form electronically, many states don't allow or have the systems to facilitate this form of submission. You will need to drop the form off in person or mail it in. You will likely need to pay a replacement title fee, which can range from $25 to $80 depending on your state. From there you'll need to wait several weeks for the replacement title to arrive.

What is the Car Title Number Format?

A car title number is generally a sequence of seven or eight digits. These numbers will occasionally be referred to by the DMV as control or document numbers.

Where Can I Find Additional Information About My Vehicle?

Whether you are looking for your car title number or just want to get more information about a vehicle you are considering purchasing, doing research can be a bit of a hassle. Car research tools can help you get valuable information about a vehicle, like:

  • VIN number
  • Residual Value
  • Vehicle History Reports
  • Vehicle Recalls

Vehicle history reports also contain a variety of other essential details. Car-buying can be a stressful process, and the more research you do beforehand the easier it will be. Vehicle search engines can also help you avoid being the victim of a scam: by finding out all the important facts and figures beforehand, you can compare what you've found to the information provided by the seller. If anything doesn't match up you can avoid the transaction, saving yourself time and money. Proper due diligence will also help you avoid scams like title washing, lemon cars, and odometer rollback.