Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

How Do You File For A Lost Title That’s Not In Your Name?

When you need to get a new vehicle title, you’ll need to file for a lost title or use a method of title recovery. The vehicle title is the most important document in relation to a vehicle and proves legal proof of ownership. But what if the title wasn’t in your name? How do you get a new one or file for a lost title?

What is a lost title?

A lost title is also more commonly known as a duplicate title or a replacement title. A lost title is a vehicle title that was previously titled in your name, but the certificate has been lost, damaged, destroyed, or stolen. A lost title or duplicate title process requires that the individual applying for the title must be the registered owner in the DMV database. If you were not the last titled owner, you are not eligible for a duplicate or replacement title.

How to get a replacement title if the last title was not in your name

If the title you’re applying for was not last issued in your name, you will not be able to obtain a duplicate title. Instead, there are multiple different options for title recovery that may fit your situation.

What is title recovery?

Title recovery is necessary when you have come into possession of a vehicle and did not receive a vehicle title at the time of purchase or lost the title before it could be transferred to your name. Title recovery uses legal methods allowed by the DMV in your state to get a new title for you in your name when you are lacking sufficient evidence of ownership. Each state determines the title recovery methods that are allowed by law.

The title recovery method that is best for your vehicle situation will depend on the following factors:

  1. Vehicle model year
  2. State of residence
  3. The evidence of ownership you currently have (bill of sale, court order, etc.)

5 most common methods of title recovery

Vermont Title Loophole

  • The Vermont title loophole is a popular title recovery method used by out-of-state residents to obtain a vehicle title for vehicles model 15 years old or older using a bill of sale. Vermont is a non-titling jurisdiction, meaning the state does not produce titles for vehicle models older than 15 years old. However, these vehicles will receive a vehicle registration which in Vermont is equivalent to a vehicle certificate of title. After receiving this title equivalent, out-of-state residents can use the registration as evidence of ownership to transfer to a title in their state.

Bonded Title

  • A bonded title is a method of title recovery that requires you to obtain a surety bond, also known as a vehicle title bond, to secure ownership of the vehicle. The surety bond serves as collateral in the event that there is a discrepancy in the claim of ownership. Not every state allows for bonded titles. If your state does not accept bonded titles, you may be eligible for a bonded title through Vermont.

Prior Owner Contact

  • If you are able to contact the prior owner of your vehicle, you can request they apply for a duplicate title and transfer it to you. If you know the prior owner, this would be a direct way to obtain a new title, as long as they’re willing to cooperate. The prior owner is not required to obtain a duplicate title and sign it over to you, but it would be a good idea for them if they did. By not signing over the vehicle title, the prior owner is still on the hook for any legalities that happen to the vehicle.

Deceased Owner Title Transfer

  • If the last titled owner of your vehicle is now deceased, each state has a process to transfer the title from a deceased owner. However, in most cases, the applicant will need to prove familial relationship to the vehicle owner or have affidavits signed by living heirs to the estate.

Court-ordered title

  • A court-ordered title may be a valuable alternative to an abandoned vehicle process. A court-ordered title can be applied for by filing a court case with your local county or circuit court to declare you as the vehicle owner. This is often the last resort title recovery method, but it is a great choice if you are missing most or all of the ownership paperwork. This is not legal advice, before using this method, be sure to obtain good legal advice for success in your county and state.

Want a professional to do it for you?

For as little as $269 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

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.

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