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Car Titles Articles

What to Know Before Buying or Selling a Car Without a Title

Did you buy a car with no title? If you have, you’re not alone. Navigating the auto market can be tricky, but it gets even more so when you find your vehicle is missing its title. Whether you’re planning to sell a car without a title or you’re buying a car with no title, it’s imperative to know ahead of time that buying or selling a vehicle without a title is actually illegal in most jurisdictions. Typically, vehicles cannot be registered without a title and if your vehicle cannot be registered, you cannot legally drive it. 

However, just because there’s no title doesn’t mean you can’t still get one. The first step in obtaining a title for a car without a title is to determine if the car was legally obtained or if it was stolen. One way to check the history of your car is through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) by searching your car’s VIN through their database. This database not only can tell you if your car was previously stolen but will also tell you if it has ever been junked. If your car’s VIN is found in the NMVTIS record as junk, you may not be able to get a title. If your car’s history is clear and you have the necessary documentation to obtain a car title, here are four methods for title recovery for cars without a title:

Bonded title

A bonded title can be obtained if you have a car with no title and limited documentation. The bonded title process requires the vehicle owner to purchase a surety bond for the vehicle which typically is under $100. The surety bond allows for protection for the lender if someone else were to prove ownership of the vehicle or otherwise invalidate the bonded title. Once you have your bonded title, you can register the vehicle at your local DMV. Be sure to check your state laws as not all states accept bonded titles.

Vermont title loophole

The Vermont title loophole has been used for years as a way for vehicle owners to get a title for a vehicle over 15 years old. Vermont is a non-titling jurisdiction, meaning they do not produce titles for vehicles over a certain year. The loophole is that just about anyone, not just residents of Vermont can use this method if they have a bill of sale and a car over 15 years old. By registering your 15+ year-old car in Vermont, the registration itself is the state’s version of a car title for that age of vehicle. After you register your car in Vermont, you can then transfer the registration to a title in your home state.

Duplicate title

Were you the last titled owner of the vehicle? If so, this is the easiest way to get a new car title. Simply visit the DMV in the state where you were the last titled owner, provide the necessary documentation and identification, then they’ll reissue you a title. If you’re applying for a duplicate title, please note that you cannot apply for a duplicate title in a state other than the last titled state. For example, if your car was last titled in Florida, but you now live in Colorado, you must contact the Florida DMV to obtain your duplicate title. Similarly, if you were not the last titled owner of this vehicle, this title recovery method will not work.

Abandoned vehicle process

If you’re buying or selling a car with no title, typically you won’t want to file it as an abandoned vehicle. In most states, the property owner who reports the abandoned vehicle must intend to dispose of the vehicle afterward. However, in some states like Virginia, there are some exceptions. In Virginia, abandoned vehicles are considered abandoned after 48 hours on private property without the property owner’s consent. If the situation meets the Virginia Abandoned Vehicle Process (AVP), the Virginia DMV will take action to contact the prior owner in order to remove the vehicle. If no owner is found and the vehicle is not removed within 15 days, the property owner is authorized to post the intent for vehicle auction and sell the vehicle within 30 days of the original notice. 

If you’re considering an abandoned vehicle process, be sure to check your state’s timeline to file. 

Using any of these methods may be beneficial to get you a car title, make sure to check with your state and local laws to ensure these methods are valid in your location. The vehicle title provides proof of ownership and if you’re buying a car, getting the title in your name is the best way to ensure your asset is safe. Need assistance getting your car title? Our Title Experts can prepare documents for any of the listed title recovery methods whether you’re selling your car or buying one. Not sure what type of title best fits your situation? Text TITLE to (402) 698-4853 or (402) MY TITLE.

Beginner’s Guide to Mechanic’s Liens, Storage Liens & Abandoned Vehicles

Abandoned vehicles are a serious problem for automotive repair shops and storage facilities. Not only are they often left with the unclaimed or abandoned vehicle, but they’re also often left with a hefty unpaid bill from the customer. It can be frustrating and seemingly impossible to track down the vehicle owner to pay their invoice; so what can be done? If you’re a licensed automotive repair shop or a storage facility, you may be eligible to file for a mechanic’s lien or storage lien to recover the costs. 

Mechanic’s lien

A mechanic’s lien is a process afforded to licensed automotive facilities in order to recover costs for repairing a vehicle. Individuals who are not a licensed automotive facility or similar entity can not file for a mechanic’s lien. The mechanic’s lien process is a tedious legal process that should only be used if absolutely necessary as it’s not an easy way to title a vehicle. If you’re an authorized entity and you need to file a mechanic’s lien, the first thing you need to do is to check your timeline. Every state has a different timeline of activities that must be completed to correctly file a mechanic’s lien.

For example, when filing a mechanic’s lien in Texas, the mechanic or repair shop only has a 30-day window from when the charge first accrued to file. Then on or after the 31st day, the shop can hold a public sale or auto auction. If all of the proper documents have not been submitted within that time frame, the mechanic’s lien may be invalid.

In addition to a potentially strict timeline, mechanic’s liens that are done improperly can bring financial penalties to the mechanic or repair shop. For many years, mechanics and auto repair shops will sometimes abuse the mechanic’s lien filing system by overbilling for work done in order to take ownership of a vehicle. DMVs across the country are going out of their way to crack down on bogus and wrongful mechanic’s liens. For example in Oregon, HB4087 states that if liens are not placed properly, the vehicle owner can bring an action to recover without demand $2,000 or an amount equivalent to twice the value of the vehicle plus the owner’s reasonable cost up to $20,000. Similarly in Texas, vehicle owners can bring action against a shop and recover up to $10,000 if a lien is improperly placed on their vehicle.

The DMV is working to make it easier for vehicle owners to fight mechanic’s liens. If you’re a licensed mechanic, be sure that the mechanic’s lien process is absolutely necessary for the situation. Always attempt to contact the vehicle owner or prior owner before taking further action and make sure you’re aware of the timeline in your state.

Storage lien

A storage lien is a process afforded to an automotive storage facility or similar entity in order to recover costs of vehicle storage or disposal. Similar to mechanic’s liens, not all parties are eligible to file a storage lien. A storage facility or similar entity is one that is involved with storing, repairing, or otherwise caring for automotive vehicles. Each state has its own process to file a storage lien and the timeline varies depending on the geographic location. 

For example in California, if a vehicle is valued at $4,001 or more at a storage or self-service storage facility, the storage company only has 30 days from when the lien arose (aka when the registered owner was billed). Therefore, if they fail to file within that 30 day period, they will not be eligible to file a lien on that vehicle.

Abandoned vehicles

Abandoned vehicles are vehicles that are completely abandoned by their registered owner with no intention to collect the vehicle and/or the prior owner is unable to be identified through DMV records or other official records. Most abandoned vehicles aren’t necessarily a “finders keepers” type of situation. Typically most states require that at the end of an abandoned vehicle process, the vehicle must be disposed of rather than titled with a new owner. The abandoned vehicle process is not designed for purchasing and titling junk vehicles.

Not every abandoned vehicle will qualify as such, but just about anyone can file an abandoned vehicle if they are able to meet their state’s abandoned vehicle requirements. If you’re an individual who has an abandoned vehicle on private property, check your state’s abandoned vehicle laws to see if your situation qualifies. 

For example, in Indiana, to request a junk vehicle without a certificate of title, you must have attempted to contact the prior owner with a certified letter. After contacting the prior owner, the applicant must provide proof of lien release if applicable, complete abandoned motor vehicle forms, and state how the vehicle came into your possession. If the vehicle is determined to be abandoned after these documents are submitted, the applicant must then dispose of the vehicle.

These methods of title recovery are tedious, time-consuming, and can be challenging to navigate. Before pursuing one of these methods, determine if your situation calls for it and check your state’s timeline. Many times vehicles are able to be titled using a different method such as a bonded title. If you’re looking to file a mechanic’s lien, storage lien, or abandoned vehicle, may be able to help. Get in touch with us today at [email protected] and learn more about how we can help you file.

Want a professional to do it for you?

For as little as $159 for most processes, we will save you the headache and prepare all of the car title paperwork needed to get you a new title. Simply choose the title recovery method you’d like to use and we’ll get started!

Select your title recovery method:

Order Vermont Title LoopholeOrder Deceased Owner Title TransferOrder Bonded Title ProcessOrder Abandoned Vehicle ProcessOrder Prior Owner ContactOrder Lien Release Request Letter

Don’t Buy a Junk Vehicle or Parts Before Reading This

Junkyard and salvage auto auctions are great sources for finding cheap vehicles, but buyers beware that not all junk vehicles or junk parts can be titled. Even if the vehicle is in perfect condition, if the VIN is found in the NMVTIS database, you will never be able to title that vehicle.

“It’s not a title problem, it’s a VIN problem.”

The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is the federal database that records every vehicle that is ineligible for a title. Once a vehicle’s VIN is registered with the NMVTIS, it is legally considered junk or parts and no title can be issued by any state for the vehicle. To enter the NMVTIS database, a junkyard or similar entity must deem the vehicle as junk and report the VIN to the NMVTIS. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice cracked down on underreporting from these entities in a memo stating that these entities are now required to report the VIN of junk vehicles within one month or pay $1,000 per vehicle that is not reported.

Fortunately, every DMV abides by this law and there are no exceptions. This law isn’t designed to prevent individuals from purchasing a vehicle from a junkyard or auto auction, but it is designed to protect buyers from unknowingly purchasing a vehicle with an invalid VIN. If you’ve purchased a vehicle from a junkyard or auto auction such as Copart or IAAI, make sure you perform a VIN check. We recommend checking the VIN of the vehicle prior to purchasing to ensure you have all of the accurate information about your vehicle.  The NMVTIS makes it simple to check your VIN here.

One of the most common calls we get at is from customers who bought a vehicle from a junkyard that has an NMVTIS history. If you’ve got a junk vehicle or junk parts, or you’re looking to purchase one from an auction, we highly recommend checking the VIN against the NMVTIS database. If your VIN is in this database, there’s only one way to get a vehicle title. To title a junk vehicle, you must obtain a new VIN from the DMV as an assembled vehicle. For more resources and assistance in getting a title for a junk vehicle, check out


Want a professional to do it for you?

For as little as $159 for most processes, we will save you the headache and prepare all of the car title paperwork needed to get you a new title. Simply choose the title recovery method you’d like to use and we’ll get started!

Select your title recovery method:

Order Vermont Title LoopholeOrder Deceased Owner Title TransferOrder Bonded Title ProcessOrder Abandoned Vehicle ProcessOrder Prior Owner ContactOrder Lien Release Request Letter

Top 5 Tips for Using the Vermont Title Loophole

The Vermont DMV has been a key player in helping drivers across the country get a title for their vehicle in their home state. For many years the Vermont registration process, also known as the Vermont title loophole, has been used to get a title for a vehicle even if the owner resides out of state. No other state offers this type of title method, especially not for out-of-state residents. The Vermont title loophole has two main conditions: the vehicle must be at least 15 years old to qualify and you must have a bill of sale. If your vehicle meets those core conditions, these 5 tips will be your guide to successfully obtaining your title with this method.

Tip #1: Do NOT use the temporary registration method

The Vermont DMV offers a temporary registration method where users can apply online and print out their temporary license plates at home. This is useful for Vermont residents, but will could be detrimental to those who are not. If you use this temporary method, you will be required to submit form VD-119 to the Vermont DMV within 24 hours of registration. Failure to do so in that time frame will result in your original registration being revoked, thus delaying your ability to get permanent registration.

Tip #2: Do NOT put out-of-state license plates on your vehicle

You may have received the license plates, but you should not put them on your vehicle because they will likely not be valid in your state. All states have statutes that require new residents to transfer their vehicle registration and driver’s license to their current state within a specific time frame. If you’re using this title method, you’ve probably lived in your state for longer than the specified time so putting out-of-state plates on your vehicle would likely be illegal in your state and you may be ticketed or fined. 

We are not lawyers and we are not giving legal advice, always check with your state laws to verify before proceeding. 

Tip #3: Type your title application

With today’s technology, the DMV is no longer manually sifting through all of the documents they receive. Most DMV’s have some sort of automated system that reads the information on a document and loads it into their system. Typing your title application can allow for quicker processing times, while handwritten applications often are illegible for some systems and may result in longer, manual processing.

Tip #4: Present your DMV with this VT Bulletin 

Many states are familiar with the Vermont title loophole, but it’s important to be prepared in the event your DMV is not. The Title Informational Bulletin from the state of Vermont describes how the process works and states that the documentation you’re providing represents their state’s version of a title. It states that vehicles more than 15 years old cannot receive a title but can be registered and that registration is equivalent to a certificate of ownership in the state of Vermont. 

Tip #5: Choose the best book value for your vehicle

The book value of your vehicle is how much your vehicle is worth on the market today. To check the book value of your vehicle, we recommend using the NADA value. The Vermont registration process uses the book value of the vehicle to calculate the amount of taxes owed. We recommend thoroughly reading through the options and making sure you’re selecting the correct vehicle and price. If your calculation is under, the Vermont DMV will send you a revised invoice for adjustments. However, if you overpaid, that money will not be refunded.

Here’s a secret: If you transfer your registration immediately, there may be a way to get a refund from some of your Vermont fees.

The Vermont title loophole is just that: a loophole. A loophole that allows vehicle owners to get a title for their vehicle without spending countless hours communicating with the DMV. This method has been used for many years by vehicle owners across the country and has been mentioned by a variety of automotive industry experts such as Jalopnik and Hagerty. Get started with us here and let us professionally prepare your forms for success using the Vermont title loophole.

Want a professional to do it for you?

For as little as $159 for most processes, we will save you the headache and prepare all of the car title paperwork needed to get you a new title. Simply choose the title recovery method you’d like to use and we’ll get started!

Select your title recovery method:

Order Vermont Title LoopholeOrder Deceased Owner Title TransferOrder Bonded Title ProcessOrder Abandoned Vehicle ProcessOrder Prior Owner ContactOrder Lien Release Request Letter

How To Get a Duplicate Car Title

Was your car title lost or stolen? If so, you may need to obtain a duplicate title to prove ownership of your vehicle. A duplicate title is a document that’s needed when the original title is lost, stolen, damaged, or mutilated. It’s imperative that your vehicle is titled in your name because if your name isn’t on the vehicle title, you don’t own it.

Applying for a duplicate or replacement title

The first step to applying for a duplicate title is determining who was that last titled owner. If it’s your name, you can apply for a duplicate title. If your name was not on the original vehicle title, you will not be able to obtain a duplicate title.

Each of the 50 states will have its own set of fees for duplicate title processes. If you are applying by mail, it’s important to check your state fees prior to submitting your paperwork. Most state DMVs accept checks and money orders, do not mail cash. Many states offer this process for a very small fee, for example, in Minnesota the duplicate title fee is  $7.25, while in Texas the duplicate title fee is a mere $2.00. 

Once you’ve located your DMV and have your funds, you can prepare your application for duplicate or replacement title. Many states, such as Colorado, require that your duplicate or replacement title application be notarized prior to submission, be sure to check with your state regulations prior to submitting your application. 

If you’ve recently moved to a new state and need to get a duplicate title, you will need to apply for a duplicate title in the state where the vehicle was last titled. For example, if your vehicle was last titled in Florida but you now live in Georgia, you cannot get a duplicate title from the Georgia DMV. Similarly, if your vehicle title shows a lien, you will first need to get your lien released before you are able to apply for a title.

If you’re the legal owner of a vehicle and simply need to get your lost title replaced, the duplicate title process is likely for you. Be sure to check your state’s fees and document requirements prior to submitting your application to get a title. Click here for more information on this title process and how can professionally prepare your title documents.

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