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What To Do About A Lost Car Title – The Complete Guide

Car titles are important documents that prove ownership of a vehicle. Without a car title, you may have difficulties selling or transferring ownership of your car. Unfortunately, car titles can get lost or stolen, leaving car owners in a bind. In this article, we will discuss what to do about a lost car title.

What Is A Car Title?

A car title is a legal document that proves ownership of a vehicle. It contains information about the vehicle, such as the make, model, year, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). The car title also includes the owner’s name and address, as well as any lien holders. It is important to keep your car title in a safe place, as it serves as proof of ownership.

What To Do If You Lose Your Car Title

If you have lost your car title, don’t panic. There are several steps you can take to obtain a new one.

Step 1: Check Your State’s Requirements

Each state has its own requirements for replacing a lost car title. Some states allow you to obtain a duplicate title online, while others require you to visit your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office. Check your state’s DMV website to find out what steps you need to take.

Step 2: Complete The Application

Once you know what your state requires, you will need to complete an application for a duplicate title. You will need to provide information about yourself and the vehicle, such as the VIN and license plate number. You may also need to provide proof of ownership, such as a registration or insurance card.

Step 3: Pay The Fee

There is usually a fee to obtain a duplicate car title. The fee varies by state, but it is typically around $20-$25. You will need to pay this fee when you submit your application.

Step 4: Wait For The Title To Arrive

Once you have submitted your application and paid the fee, you will need to wait for your new title to arrive. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your state’s processing time.

What To Do If You Can’t Find Your Car Title

If you can’t find your car title, you may still be able to obtain a new one. Here are some options:

Option 1: Apply For A Bonded Title

A bonded title is a type of title issued when the original title cannot be found. To obtain a bonded title, you will need to purchase a surety bond from a bonding company. The bonding company will issue the bond, which serves as proof of ownership. If anyone comes forward with a claim to the vehicle, the bonding company will pay out the claim.

Option 2: Contact The Lien Holder

If you are still making payments on your car, the lien holder may have a copy of the title. Contact the lien holder and ask if they have a copy of the title. If they do, they can provide you with a duplicate.

Option 3: Get A Court Order

If you have exhausted all other options, you may need to get a court order to obtain a new title. This can be a lengthy and expensive process, so it should only be used as a last resort.

Tips For Keeping Your Car Title Safe

To avoid the headache of a lost car title, here are some tips for keeping your car title safe:

  • Keep your car title in a secure location, such as a safe or safety deposit box.
  • Don’t carry your car title with you unless you need it for a specific purpose, such as transferring ownership.
  • Make a copy of your car title and keep it in a separate location.
  • Notify your lien holder if you change your address, so they can update their records.


Losing your car title can be stressful, but it’s important to take action to obtain a new one. Whether you apply for a duplicate title, get a bonded title, or seek a court order, there are options available. By taking steps to keep your car title safe, you can avoid the hassle of a lost title in the future.


Can I sell my car without a title?

In most cases, you cannot sell your car without a title. The title serves as proof of ownership, and buyers will want to see it before purchasing the car.

Can I get a duplicate title if I still owe money on my car?

Yes, you can still obtain a duplicate title if you still owe money on your car. However, the lien holder may need to be involved in the process.

How long does it take to get a duplicate car title?

The processing time for a duplicate car title varies by state, but it typically takes a few days to a few weeks.

What is a lien holder?

A lien holder is a person or company that has a legal interest in a vehicle until it is fully paid off. This is typically a bank or lending institution that provided financing for the vehicle.

Can I get a bonded title if the car is stolen?

No, you cannot get a bonded title if the car is stolen. You will need to file a police report and work with your insurance company to recover the vehicle.

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