Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

Car Title Signed But Never Transferred? Here’s What To Do.

As the buyer of a vehicle, you have a specific timeline set by your state regarding the title transfer. Typically, you have 30-60 days to transfer the title of a vehicle you’ve purchased into your name, depending on your state. This is to ensure that any financial obligations on the vehicle are resolved in a timely manner. Whatever the situation that resulted in your car title being signed but not transferred, there are a handful of methods to rectify the situation.

Pay the late fee at the DMV

Most state DMVs will allow for transfers to be completed, even if they’re conducted later than specified. This may be a $10-$20 (or more) late fee, depending on your state agency. Keep in mind that this method will usually work within a short window of time. If your car title was signed over more than 6 months ago, your state’s DMV may not accept the title transfer. Check with your state DMV to see if your paperwork is still considered valid before attempting another title recovery method.

Contact the prior owner & request a duplicate title

If your signed title transfer is not accepted due to the time frame or for other reasons such as damage to the physical document, try contacting the prior owner/seller for a duplicate title. Duplicate titles can be obtained by your state’s DMV for a small fee, usually ranging between $2-$25. Once the duplicate title is issued, the prior owner/seller can re-sign the car title over to you. Remember, only the registered owner of the vehicle can request a duplicate car title. If it’s not in your name, you can’t request a duplicate.

Some prior owners/sellers may not be willing to participate in this process after selling you the car and signing over the title. If this is the case, that’s okay, you can still transfer the title without their help. However, remind the prior owner that until the car is officially transferred out of their name, they’re legally responsible for it and any fees it accrues (parking, taxes, etc.). Reminding them of this may help persuade them to take action.

Use the Vermont registration process

If your vehicle is at least 15 years old and you have a bill of sale, your vehicle may qualify for the Vermont registration process, also known as the Vermont title loophole. The Vermont registration process allows for out-of-state vehicles that are 15+ years old to receive registration in lieu of a title certificate. This registration can be used as proof of ownership in place of the prior title to be transferred to a title in your state.

Keep in mind that this process requires you to pay a 6% sales tax to Vermont based on the NADA book value of your car.

Why does the Vermont process work?

Vermont does not title vehicles that are over 15 years old, instead, the proof of ownership for a vehicle in Vermont that is over 15 years old is the registration. This makes the registration for an over 15-year-old vehicle in Vermont equivalent to a certificate of title which provides sufficient proof of ownership for the title transfer process in your state.

Get a bonded title

A bonded title is a very valuable, and often overlooked, method of title recovery. Most states allow for bonded titles or provide an alternative similar process. A bonded title requires the applicant for ownership to obtain a surety bond, also known as a car title bond, to prove their claim of ownership. A surety bond is a form of insurance to prove to the DMV that you are the correct owner of the vehicle, despite the lack of evidence.

Title bonds are typically required to be 1.5x the value of the vehicle, but your bond premium will only be a fraction of that amount. Most title bonds for average value vehicles cost around $100-$150 to purchase. The remaining amount of the bond won’t come into effect unless there is a discrepancy in ownership after the title is issued. In this instance, you’d be on the hook for the remaining amount of the bond.

If all else fails, file for a court-ordered title.

If you’ve exhausted all other avenues of title recovery, you can open a court case to have a judge declare you the owner of the vehicle. A court-ordered title is almost always an option for title recovery, but most courts will require that you exhaust all other efforts to get the title before going to court. Before using this method, get good legal advice to ensure your case is filed properly in your jurisdiction.

When it comes to your car’s title, it’s important that if it’s your car, you have the title in your name. If you have the old title that was signed over to you, but the signature is no longer valid or the title is damaged, keep the title for your records. In addition, be sure to be 100% honest with your application for title recovery. When pursuing any title recovery method, most DMVs will ask how you acquired the vehicle without sufficient evidence. Be honest with them about the situation to avoid accidentally title jumping.

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 LetterPGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vYXBwLmFjdWl0eXNjaGVkdWxpbmcuY29tL3NjaGVkdWxlLnBocD9vd25lcj0xOTQ4ODEyNiZhcHBvaW50bWVudFR5cGU9MjMwNjY0MTAiIHRpdGxlPSJTY2hlZHVsZSBBcHBvaW50bWVudCIgd2lkdGg9IjEwMCUiIGhlaWdodD0iODAwIiBmcmFtZUJvcmRlcj0iMCI+PC9pZnJhbWU+PHNjcmlwdCBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vZW1iZWQuYWN1aXR5c2NoZWR1bGluZy5jb20vanMvZW1iZWQuanMiIHR5cGU9InRleHQvamF2YXNjcmlwdCI+PC9zY3JpcHQ+

Have Title Questions? Talk to a Car Title Expert.

Book a consultation with a Car Title Expert from to get personalized guidance on your title recovery journey.

Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. If it’s your car, you deserve a title.

Share this article!

Check Your VIN Instantly:

Powered by