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How to Obtain a Bonded Title for a Vehicle

Determine if you need a bonded title

A bonded title is a vehicle title that is obtained by purchasing a surety bond. A bonded title is needed when a vehicle owner doesn’t have the proper proof of ownership available to obtain a title. If you have a bill of sale or other ownership documents like an old title in your name, you can probably use an easier title method.

Identify your state’s requirements

The requirements to obtain a bonded title vary by state. The bonded title application form can be found online on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. Some states also require an inspection of your vehicle before you apply for a bonded title. This can include an emissions inspection, VIN verification, or other general inspection.

A VIN verification inspection ensures a vehicle identification number (VIN) is valid and matches the car’s make, model, and year. An emissions inspection ensures smog-producing emissions are below acceptable levels. Inspections will vary by state but are generally completed by licensed garages or other mechanics in your area.

Purchase your surety bond

A surety bond is basically an agreement between you, the surety company, and the state DMV that says you are the legal owner of the vehicle. The bond also states that if the DMV finds out that there is a discrepancy regarding the ownership of this vehicle, they will not be held liable. In other words, if someone comes forward stating that they own this car and you falsely applied for a bonded title, you will be responsible for reimbursing the DMV for any costs incurred in correcting this situation.

The surety bond amount is typically required to be 1.5 times the book value of the vehicle. However, this doesn’t mean if your vehicle is worth $5K that you have to shell out $15K for a title. Most bonds can be purchased for about $100. The additional amount only comes into play if the bond is fraudulent. A surety bond can be obtained from a surety bond agency or sometimes insurance agencies. We recommend using for obtaining vehicle title bonds.

Make sure your state accepts bonded titles and your vehicle is eligible

Titling rules vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your local DMV offices to find out if they accept bonded titles before trying this method. In some cases, you might need to try other methods of recovering your auto title first. The following states accept bonded titles:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Special cases where title bonds are not applicable

There are some special cases where bonded titles are not allowed, even if the state accepts this title method. You cannot get a bonded title if the vehicle has a lien, you must first obtain a lien release. You cannot get a bonded title for junk, salvage, or parts vehicles or if the vehicle has been declared a total loss. Also, most states, but not all, require you to be a resident of the state and the vehicle be domiciled in the state to obtain a bonded title. Be sure to check your state’s requirements prior to purchasing a surety bond.

The bonded title process is a great way for you to obtain a title for your vehicle if the necessary ownership documents are missing. Before proceeding with any method of title recovery, be sure to check to make sure your vehicle is eligible for that method and your state identifies it as a legal method to obtain a vehicle title.

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