How to Get a Title for a Car

Your state can provide a replacement if you need one

A car title is the official state document indicating who a car’s owner is. You should receive a title when you buy a car, and you will generally need to produce it if you decide to sell the car or trade it in. If you lose your car title, you can obtain a replacement.

Key Takeaways

  • Your car’s title is the proof that you are the rightful owner.
  • State governments issue car titles, typically through their department of motor vehicles or a similar agency.
  • If you need a replacement car title, you can get one online, in person, or by mail, depending on the state.

Obtaining a Car Title

Because your title is the proof that you are the car’s rightful owner, you’ll want to keep it in a safe place. If you have an auto loan, the lender will hold your car title until the loan is paid off. After that, the lender will mail you a copy of your car title.

If you need to get a replacement car title because you’ve lost the original, the process is fairly straightforward. Most states have a department of motor vehicles (DMV) or bureau of motor vehicles (BMV) that handles everything related to automobiles. You might also need to complete an affidavit of loss document. In some other states, such as Mississippi, car titles are processed through the Department of Revenue. A web search of your state’s name plus “car title” will usually get you to the right place to find the instructions.

Depending on your state, you may be able to obtain a replacement car title online, by mail, or in person.

For example, Virginia allows drivers to get a replacement car title either online or in person at a local customer service center. Nevada also provides duplicate car titles by mail or in person at a DMV office.

Requesting a replacement car title online will be the easiest option if your state allows it; simply follow the steps on the DMV website. If you have to go in person or apply by mail, then the website should indicate what documents you need to provide. You will generally have to pay a fee, and it may take several weeks for your new title to arrive.

If your car has or had a lien on it (typically from a loan), then you will usually need to get an affidavit from your lender or other proof that the loan has been satisfied.

Some states also require that you have your documents notarized. Many banks will do that for free if you’re a customer.

Article Sources
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  1. Mississippi Department of Revenue. "Title Frequently Asked Questions."

  2. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. "Replacement Titles."

  3. Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. "Vehicle Title and Ownership."