How Long Does it Take to Get a Duplicate Title?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Duplicate Title?

If you need a duplicate title, you can request one. It isn’t free, but it’s not that expensive either. Here’s how long it typically takes to get one, how to request a replacement title, and why you need your vehicle’s title in the first place.

Getting a Duplicate Car Title

To request a duplicate title, visit a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Secretary of State (SOS), either in person or online. It can take around 30 days or more to get a duplicate title in the mail.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Duplicate Title?Typically, replacement titles run anywhere from $5 to $60 each, depending on your state. Often, you’re required to list the reason why you need a duplicate title, such as if yours was damaged, lost, or stolen. You also need the vehicle’s information to request another title. Things you generally need to have in order to get a replacement title include:

  • The vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Proof of ownership, such as a bill of sale
  • Possibly odometer reading, depending on your state
  • Valid driver’s license

Duplicate and replacement titles differ. There are also replacement titles, which is when you need a new title because something important needs to be changed (instead of just a copy). This can include names changes due to marriage or divorce, errors, or modifications made to the vehicle. For a replacement title, you may need court documents if it’s a name change and/or corrected driver’s license, or odometer readings and proof of modifications if this is why you need a new title for your car.

Did you get your title in the first place? If you live in a title-holding state and you have a loan on your car, then your lender holds the title until you complete the loan. If you can’t find your title, your lender may have it if you have a lien on the car, so you might not need a duplicate title.

If you’re selling your car privately, but it still has a loan on it, your lender sends the title to the buyer once the loan is paid off. If you're trading in your financed vehicle to a dealership, they typically take care of the titles themselves, so you're not involved in the title transfer.

Can I Buy or Sell a Vehicle Without a Title?

If you own your car free and clear and don’t have a title, then you’re not going to be able to sell it legitimately. You need a title to officially transfer ownership to the next owner.

If you bought a car that didn’t have a title, then you may be a victim of title-jumping, which is illegal in every state. A vehicle sale isn’t allowed without the seller and the buyer signing the title. If you want to know the history of your vehicle, then it may be worth requesting a vehicle history report to learn more about its past owners and/or accidents it's been through.

Without a title, it also means you can’t register the car in your name. And if you sell the car to someone else without the title, they can’t register it in their name, either.

If you shop for a vehicle with a dealership, then you’re likely to only see vehicles with clean titles. A car with a true clean title is one that’s never been deemed a total loss, hasn’t been salvaged or rebuilt and was never deemed a lemon. Reputable dealerships typically only sell vehicles with clean titles.

If you’re on the hunt for your next car, it’s important to know the history of the vehicle you’re looking to buy. If someone offers you a car without a title, know that you need it to register the car in your name. And if you need financing, then the lender is likely to need to view the title and/or hold it until you complete the loan.


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