Ready to sell but can’t find the title. It happens but don’t worry.
Simply visit the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), or government agency in the state where the last title was issued in your name. Be sure to have your photo ID for verification. They will verify that you were the last titled owner of the vehicle, and verify your identity. They will then issue a new replacement title document printed exactly as the last one was.
Some states can print a duplicate while you are there and others will mail it. Be sure to ask while you are there.
What if the title has a Lien? – If there was a lien on the vehicle when the last title was issued, you will need to obtain a lien release from the lender. Even if the lien has been paid off, the DMV will likely not have been made aware of this event and will still how it as a cloud on the title. Read our article about obtaining a lien release.
What if the title has other owners listed? – If there are multiple owners listed on the title, each person will need to sign the duplicate title application, unless they are listed as “or” owners.
What if the title is not in your name? – If the vehicle was transferred to you but a new legal title was never issued to you by the DMV, then the last person who had a legal title document with their name printed on the front will need to make application for the duplicate. To be sure, contact your DMV about the exact process.
Purged records – If there has been no title or active registration issued on the vehicle in 5 or 7 years (depending on the state), the prior ownership records may have been purged from the system, and a duplicate title request may not be allowed. Contact your DMV about the exact process.
What if I’m out of the area, state or country? – In most cases, the DMV will require the legal owner to be present in person to request the duplicate title document. The agency does not want to hand a legal document to a person who is not the legal owner, and would want to verify the identity of the person requesting the document by matching their photo ID. If you have moved to a different state, you may be able to request an affidavit form that you can have notarized at your location and send by postal mail. Some states now have websites that allow for duplicate requests. Contact your DMV about the exact process.
What if the person is deceased? – If the person listed as legal owner on title has become deceased, the DMV will request a death certificate and documentation demonstrating that the person requesting the replacement title is the legal heir by statute or by will/probate/estate.