Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

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.

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