How To Replace a Lost or Missing Car Title
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- What is it?
- How to replace
- Replacing vehicle in your name
- Replacing vehicle not in your name
- Replacing title for lienholder vehicle
- How long does it take to get one?
- Stolen car titles
- Replacement in California
- Replacement in Texas
- Replacement in Florida
- Replacement in New York
- Replacement in Pennsylvania
The process of replacing a lost or stolen car title differs slightly from state to state, but it generally requires you to visit your local DMV with proof of ownership, your vehicle identification number (VIN), and a method of payment to cover the fee to replace your lost title.
While replacing a title is a relatively infrequent occurrence compared to, say, replacing your car insurance, sometimes it needs to be done. That’s why car insurance comparison app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about how to replace a lost or stolen car title.
What is a car title?
A car title is a legal form that establishes ownership of a vehicle.
If you own your car, the title will be in your name. If you took out a loan to buy your car, the title will be in the lienholder’s name.
If and when you pay your loan off, the title will be transferred to you.
How to replace a car title
In general, you’ll need to show proof of ownership and your car’s VIN at your local DMV to replace a lost or stolen car title. You’ll also need a method of payment to cover the fee.
Now, if you’re starting to sweat because you can’t find your title—which is legal proof you own the car—grab a handkerchief and towel yourself off. You can use documents for a prior loan on the vehicle, for instance, to prove you own the car.
Of course, the process for securing the new title differs in each state. Later, we’ll cover how to replace a lost title in detail for the five most populous states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Key Takeaway You’ll need to show proof of ownership and your car’s VIN at your local DMV to replace a lost or missing car title.
Replacing a car title in your name
If you own your car and need to replace a title, head to your local DMV. As mentioned, you’ll need to show proof of ownership, provide your personal information, and pay the fee associated with ordering a duplicate title.
Note that your new title will denote that it is a replacement title.
Replacing a lost car title not yet in your name
If you’re buying a car from a private seller and the seller can’t find the title, you can ask them to submit the duplicate request—though they will have to pay the fee. Then, the new title can be transferred to you.
If the seller refuses to help or if you inherited the car from an estate, you may be able to get a court order and have a judge award the car to you, which is usually successful. Ask your state DMV if this option is available where you live. Some states do not allow it.
If you go for a court order, you’ll need to provide some specific vehicle information, such as the VIN and manufacturer.
Replacing a lost title for a lienholder-owned car
If you need a new copy of a vehicle title owned by a lienholder, such as a financing company, you’ll need to approach the lienholder. They will need to submit the application and pay the fee for a duplicate car title.
The process does differ depending on the state, so check with your local DMV to be sure.
How long does it take to get a replacement title?
The timeframe for getting a replacement title differs in each state.
Some states offer same-day service, but you’ll have to check with your state DMV if this is possible where you live.
What to do if your title is stolen
If your car title is stolen, the first thing you should do is call the police and report the stolen car title. You should then go to the DMV and ask for a replacement car title the same way you would get a replacement title if the title were simply missing. As soon as you have a new car title, the old title will be void.
The thief could theoretically forge your signature to transfer the title in their name and get new keys cut out for the vehicle to drive away with it. However, you have to consider that they would probably also need to steal your keys to even get into your vehicle, let alone drive away with it.
Also consider that to transfer the title to their name, the thief needs important information like the vehicle’s VIN. As long as you still have possession of the vehicle and you file for a replacement title, you should be fine.
Replacing a lost title in California
In the Golden State, you’re legally required to have a title if you want to sell your car or trade it in. If you’ve just moved to California, you’ll need your car’s title in order to register it in the state.
If you’ve lost your title or if it’s missing, damaged, or stolen, you can get it replaced in California either in person or via mail. Download Form REG 227, which you’ll need to fill out for your duplicate title. Be sure to provide the following information:
- The full name of the car owner
- Current address of the owner
- Driver’s license number of the owner
- License plate number of the car
- An explanation of what happened to the car’s original title—was it lost? Stolen? Damaged?
- Owner’s signature
If possible, you may need to provide the damaged title. This isn’t required in every instance.
To apply in person
- Contact your local DMV and make an appointment
- Bring your completed form REG 227 and any other required information
- Pay a $20 replacement fee
To apply by mail
- Complete Form REG 227 and collect any other required paperwork
- Include a $20 replacement fee
- Mail your package to the following address: Department of Motor Vehicles Vehicle Registration Operations, PO Box 942869, Sacramento, CA 94269
Replacing a lost title in Texas
If you live in Texas and need to replace a lost or missing title, grab your ten-gallon hat (everyone in Texas wears those, right?) and pay a visit to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
In order to obtain a duplicate car title in Texas, all owners of the car must sign the application. If you’ve got a loan on your vehicle, the lienholder will have to submit the application for you. You can apply for your duplicate title in person or by mail.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
To apply in person
- Fill out Form VTR34, the application for a Certified Copy of Title
- Take your completed form and valid photo ID to a regional service center office
- Pay a fee of $5.45 with cash, a check, cashier’s check, or money order
To apply by mail
- Fill out Form VTR34
- Add a photocopy of a valid piece of photo ID
- Include a $2 fee either by check, cashier’s check, or money order
- Mail the package to the following address: Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. 1601-A Southwest Parkway. Wichita Falls, Texas 76302.
Replacing a lost title in Florida
In the Sunshine State, you need your title in order to register your vehicle. Without a title, you won’t be able to register it out of state, either, if you move out of Florida.
You also won’t be able to sell the car, trade it in, or use it as a form of collateral without a title.
In Florida, you can apply for a duplicate title in person or by mail. There are several fee options for a duplicate title, depending on your circumstances:
- Duplicate title for a car previously titled in Florida: $75.25
- Duplicate title for a new car: $77.25
- Duplicate title for a car previously registered out of state: $85.25
- Expedited duplicate title: $85.25
Something to keep in mind—if your car’s title was lost while registered out of state and before moving to Florida, you’ll need to pay for a physical vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection.
The VIN inspection can be carried out by any of the following individuals:
- County tax collector
- Licensed auto dealer
- Law enforcement officer
- Commissioned officer/provost marshal
You’ll also have to complete Form HSMV 82042.
To apply in person
- Fill out Form HSMV 821010
- Provide proof of identity with a valid state-issued photo ID
- Provide your odometer reading for an accurate mileage reading
- Include any information about the vehicle’s lienholders (if any)
- Include appropriate fee amount
- Bring this package to your local county tax collector’s office
To apply by mail
- Package all the material as you would if applying in person and mail to your local county tax collector’s office
Replacing a lost title in New York
If you need to replace a lost title in New York state, the process is quick and simple, and can be done in person, by mail, or online.
To apply in person
- Fill out Form MV-902
- Bring proof of identity
- There is a $20 fee
- Bring everything to your local New York State DMV
To apply by mail
- Completed Form MV 902
- Photocopy of a valid proof of identity
- Enclose a check for $20
- Mail your package to the following address: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Title Bureau P.O. Box 2750, Albany, NY 12220
To apply online
- Visit New York’s DMV page for replacing a title certificate.
Replacing a lost title in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, you can get a duplicate car title if the original is lost, stolen, missing, or simply illegible. Finally, a state that treats bad penmanship as the serious matter that it is!
Here’s how to order a replacement:
- Download, print and fill out Form MV-38 0
- Include any information regarding a lien on the vehicle
- Include your driver’s license number, VIN, and title number
- Enclose a check or money order for $51, payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- If the title was stolen, report it to law enforcement, as you’ll need to include a copy of the police report with your application
- Submit completed form and fee to the following address: PA Department of Transportation Bureau of Motor Vehicles 1101 South Front St Harrisburg, PA 17104
If your vehicle is owned by a lienholder, the duplicate will be issued to them, not you.
Frequently asked questions
I want to obtain a replacement title online—can I?
It depends on what state you live in. New York, for example, allows you to complete the process online if you choose to. Many other states, however, insist the process be done in-person at the DMV or through the mail.
Why would a lienholder need to be involved in getting a replacement title?
When you take out a loan in order to buy a car, you don’t technically own that car until you’ve paid the loan off. Though it may vary between states, usually the owner (in this case, the lienholder) has to apply for a duplicate car title. Check with your state DMV to be sure.
Replacing a lost car title is an easy process
If you’ve lost your car title, or even if it was stolen, replacing it is easy no matter which state you live in. You may just have to wait a few weeks before you receive your new title.
What don’t you need to wait for? Getting the best possible rate on car insurance!
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