Here’s How to Get a Title for a Car
A car title is a legal document that declares ownership of a vehicle. After purchasing a car, buyers will need to title the vehicle. This requires a fee, and, in some states, sales tax must also be paid before the title can be issued.
Titling a vehicle isn’t difficult, but it is a necessary step in vehicle ownership. Here’s how to get a title for a car after purchasing a vehicle or when the original is lost or misplaced.
What is a Car Title?
The car’s title shows who owns the vehicle, but it also includes the details about the car. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) describes the title as the car’s birth certificate. A car title includes the following information:
- The owner’s name and address
- Color of the car
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Mileage (the odometer reading)
- Signatures of the owner and a representative of the state of issuance
- Lien holder information (this is the bank or lender)
- Date that the title was issued
In addition, car titles also will feature a very important element—the watermark of the state. Watermarks or embossed stamps are also key elements to birth certificates and marriage licenses. Many drivers also will notice a watermark on their driver’s license. These marks denote ‘official documents.’
How to Title a Vehicle
Different states might have different procedures for titling a vehicle. Some states where sales tax is applicable on vehicle sales require that sales tax be paid in order to title and register the vehicle. In addition, there is typically a fee to title the vehicle.
When buying a new vehicle, titles are usually not a worry for the buyer. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) explains that the dealership handles the paperwork or will provide all the necessary paperwork to the buyer.
A copy of the title will be mailed to the car owner and should be kept somewhere safe.
How to Obtain a New Title and How to Re-Title in a New State
Sometimes a car owner might lose or misplace a car title. Obtaining a new title typically requires providing information to the state, and each state may require specific forms or documents.
As titling procedures could vary per state, if a car owner has lost or misplaced their title, visit the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles for information on how to obtain a new title.
In addition, when moving to a new state a new title also may be necessary. Not only does the car need to be registered in the state, but a new title might be a requirement as well. Car owners who are moving to a new state should check the requirements of the state to find out if obtaining a new title is necessary.
Trading in a Car
When a vehicle changes ownership either through a sale or a trade-in, the vehicle title needs to accompany the vehicle, too. When trading in a vehicle, dealerships will require the title. Typically, the owner will sign the title over to the dealership. This allows for the dealership to take legal possession of the vehicle.
The same procedure happens if a car owner donates a car to charity or sells the car. The title is signed by the owner(s) to ensure that the charity or buyer can take possession.
What if there is a lien on the title, though? When a car owner pays off their car loan, the lender will issue a lien release document that states that the lender (or financial institution) has no ownership in the vehicle. This lien release is yet another legal document that the owner needs to keep. In order to re-title a car in just the owner’s name, the lien release must be presented.
In addition, charities accepting a car as a donation would need a lien release statement if the title still includes the name of the lien holder.
What is a Lien?
Car owners might wonder about the lien holder. What does this mean? A lien allows a lender to take ownership of property if a debt remains unpaid.
When a car owner takes out a car loan with a lender or financial institution, the lender will place a lien on the car. Until the vehicle is paid off, the lien holder has a right to the property to satisfy the debt.
For this reason, the lien release document is extremely important as it proves that the lender has been paid and the debt is satisfied; the lender then holds no legal ownership of the car.
If a car owner loses the lien release document, they can contact their lender. Typically, the lender will be able to work with the car owner to reissue a document. Sometimes documents can get lost in the mail, too.
Car owners need to keep in mind that anytime they take out a loan to pay for a vehicle or use the vehicle as collateral for a loan, the lender will place a lien on their vehicle. Some vehicles could have multiple liens.
A car owner does not fully own the vehicle outright until all debts (liens) are satisfied.
Other Documents for Owning a Car
The car title is the official document that declares ownership of the car, but owners also need other documentation that needs to be kept in the vehicle. If a driver has ever been pulled over, they know that the officer usually asks for license and registration.
A driver’s license is usually kept in a wallet, but the registration paperwork should be placed in the glove compartment to ensure that it’s accessible. The registration paperwork is issued when license plates are renewed.
Drivers also should always keep a copy of their most recent insurance card to ensure that this documentation is available in case of an accident or other issue. Some drivers also keep copies of their card on their phone or in their wallet.
Use Carzing to Begin a New Car Search
Car buyers who are looking for a new car and are ready to trade-in their older vehicle can begin their vehicle search on Carzing. Find cars based on make/model, body type or price.
Carzing will show all the available vehicles at nearby participating dealerships. When searching by price or body type, buyers could be overwhelmed with their choices. Narrow down the results by choosing other criteria like color, specific models, drivetrain, equipment (like backup cameras), and even fuel type.
Buyers also can sort their options by mileage and age (for used cars) or just by price or location. If the search isn’t showing exactly the car the buyer wants, the geographic radius also can be adjusted to widen the search.
Once buyers find their perfect vehicle, they can use Carzing to get pre-qualified for financing. Carzing will show all the options, and buyers can find the loans with the best monthly payment or terms that fit their needs. Print out the financing details and take it to the dealership.
Carzing lets buyers take control of the car search and their financing options. Instead of spending hours at a dealership, buyers can take their time and handle their search at home. This lets buyers focus on the important details at the dealership like taking a test drive, completing the credit application and finishing the deal.