If you need to get a title for a vehicle, these are ways you can do it yourself, without having to pay a title agent. All car titles come from the state DMV, not printed by an online company. Whether you purchased a car from a Craigslist seller, aquired an abandoned car, or lost a title before transferring it to your name there is a method that will work for your scenario.
If you need more information, instructions, or assistance with any of these or your specific title situation call 866-56-TITLE.
If the vehicle is 15 years old, you can obtain a registration title for any vehicle from the state of Vermont. You can do this even if you lost the car title in another state. Once you have this registration title it can be exchanged for a replacement full legal title in your state. All you need is a bill of sale, but you can write this yourself by hand, and it can be signed by any seller. It does not need to signed from the titled vehicle owner. As a bonus, they also send you a valid license plate for the vehicle.
In most states you can obtain a lost title bond from an insurance agent which will guarantee ownership. This can be presented to your local DMV with a bonded title application to obtain a legal title in your name. You can put the bonded title ownership into any name you list on the application.
The local civil or probate court can issue a statement of ownership
which can be submitted to the DMV to issue a replacement vehicle title. The lost title filing documents can be obtained from the court clerk. It may take a few weeks for the court process, but the fee is typically less than $100 and will issue a statement of car title ownership that erases any other prior ownership claims.
If you have previously held a title document issued in your name, you can simply apply to the state DMV which issued that title for a duplicate/replacement title. If you have moved to a different state, make sure to apply for this duplicate title at the state where the title was issued. Also be sure to print your name exactly how it is listed on the car title, or the form will be rejected.
If there was a previously paid loan on the vehicle, you can request from the lender to issue a lien release title transfer document. As a valid lienholder the bank or lender would have authority to issue a vehicle title transfer to you. In most cases the lender actually has a replacement title document that they can send to you, avoiding the need to go through the DMV.
If you are not the current or last legal titled owner of the vehicle, you can obtain a lost title transfer from the person listed on title. Obtain a copy of a blank duplicate title application and transfer document from the DMV, and have the last titleholder sign that over to you. A replacement title will be issued into your name.
The state of Montana allows for simple car title transfers to a Montana LLC entity. If you create an LLC in that state, you can title the vehicle in the name of that company and then sign it over to yourself, in your state. Since Montana has no sales tax you will only need to pay tax in your state, if applicable.
Power of attorney
If there are currently other owners names or lenders on the car title record, they can sign over a specific limited POA to quit claim their rights to that vehicle with the lost title. Then the DMV will issue a legal title into your name. The signature on the state document for a power of attorney will need to be notarized and you will need to present your ID when using the form to replace the title.
In some cases the last legal title holder is deceased. In these cases there is a process for the heirs to obtain legal title status using the heirship document application from the DMV or county clerk. If you are the close relative applying for this the vehicle title will be issued to you. If you are the buyer of the vehicle, the heir can specify that the car title be issued to you as a third party.
If there is still an open lien on the vehicle, contact the lienholder for lien mitigation. As a non-borrower, the lender is not going to require complete payment of the lien. Their debt is with the borrower and if you can show that you are an innocent buyer not related to the person who borrowed the money, they typically will release the vehicle title for a small fee to cover expenses.
They know that they can still go after the borrower for the loan, and lender really do not want to get the car back especially when the loan is long delinquent or charged off.
In any of the cases make sure that your ownership is legal and that you are not using the methods for tax avoidance. There are companies that charge hundreds of dollars for lost title solutions or to get new titles for customers, but all of the methods they use are public documents and you can do these yourself for free.