Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

What Determines Legal Ownership Of A Vehicle?

The vehicle certificate of title is the only document that proves ownership. Many people confuse the bill of sale or the registration card as proof of ownership. Your bill of sale will show that you made the transaction, while your registration card shows that you are authorized to drive this vehicle.

Motor vehicle records are considered private information under the driver’s privacy protection act. You cannot look up the owner of a vehicle online or call up the DMV and ask. The only way to find out the owner of a vehicle is to look at the title or to submit an official DPPA request form.

The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) was passed in 1994 to protect the privacy of drivers from having their information disclosed by government agencies without consent. The DPPA does not apply to private entities such as insurance companies, banks or other financial institutions, credit card companies, or any individual person who wants to find out about someone else’s driving history. It also does not apply to law enforcement agencies investigating traffic accidents or criminal matters involving a motor vehicle.

Legal ownership by common types of vehicle titles

Clean title

A clean title means that the vehicle title does not have any liens attached to it and the owner is able to do whatever they want with the vehicle. This can include selling it, trading it in, or even donating it.

Bonded title

A bonded title is a type of vehicle title that is obtained by securing a surety bond. The term bonded title will stay on the title for a period of a few years, but the owner will be listed on the front. A bond is not the same as a lien.

Lien title

A lien title means that the vehicle title has the owner’s name and the lienholder’s name because the loan has not been paid off in full. Once the loan is paid off in full, the owner can request a lien release from the lender.

Before you can establish that you are the legal owner of a vehicle, you must understand what qualifies as legal ownership. Generally, in order to legally own a vehicle, you will have to be listed on the title and have the right to sign off on any deals. takes the hassle out of applying for a title for your vehicle. Our team of title experts can help prepare your paperwork for any title method provided.

Have Title Questions? Talk to a Car Title Expert.

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

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