How Do I Obtain a Duplicate Car Title?

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, - March 21, 2024

A car title is the most important piece of paperwork you have when it comes to vehicle ownership. The vehicle title can either reside with the lender or the borrower, depending on the state in question. In most states, the title is sent to the lienholder until your loan is paid in full, but a handful of states send the title directly to the buyer.

If you need a copy of your car title there are some steps involved in getting a replacement, but for the most part, it's an easy transaction. Here's what we know about getting a duplicate, or replacement car title.

Getting a Duplicate Title

If you lost or damaged your vehicle title, then there’s a way to get a duplicate one. Also known as a replacement title, a duplicate car title is typically easy to apply for. To do this, simply visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Secretary of State’s (SOS) website. These institutions typically allow people to complete a duplicate title form or title replacement form online to get a replacement if it was lost, stolen, or damaged. You can also visit a physical location and request a duplicate title there.

There’s usually a fee for getting another title, and the cost varies depending on your state, it could be anywhere from $5 to $60 or more. Typically, you need to explain why you need a duplicate title and it can take anywhere from a few weeks to around 30 days to get it in the mail.

The things you’re likely to need to request a duplicate title include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle’s information
  • Proof of ownership
  • Reason for requesting a duplicate

Now, the question is do you actually need a duplicate title, or do you live in a non-title-holding state?

Title-Holding States

If your car still has a loan on it, then odds are, your lender has your title. Most states are non-title-holding states, which means the title gets sent to the lienholder (your lender) until you finish paying off your loan.

Do you live in one of these states?

  • Arizona
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin

If you don’t, then your lender probably has the title if you’re still financing your vehicle. The above states are called title-holding states. This means that the borrower gets the title in the mail soon after purchasing the car, and is thus "holding their title".

In non-title-holding states, once you complete the loan and remove the lien, the lender sends you the title by mail.

Steps to Replace a Lost Title to Car

The steps to replacing a lost car title can be as simple as two small steps, applying for a replacement, and then waiting for it to come. If you're able to, putting in an application for a duplicate title online is the easiest way to go.

If you don't have access to the online forms, you can visit your local DMV, MVD, or SoS and fill out the forms in person. This process means you will turn in your paperwork to an agent, but you will still have to wait for your title to be mailed to you.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Replacement Car Title?

A duplicate car title usually takes a little time to be prepared. Usually, you receive the title by mail around two weeks to a month after you request it. This can depend on your state and the situation for which you need the title.

Do I Need a Title to Sell My Car?

You do need to have your vehicle’s title to sell a car. If you’re looking for your title because you’re preparing to trade it in at a dealership, in non-title-holding states the lender typically sends it directly to the dealership so they can transfer ownership once the loan is paid in full.

If you're trading in a vehicle in a title-holding state, you need to bring the title to the dealership with you so you can sign it over to them.

Looking for an Auto Loan?

When it’s time to sell or trade-in your vehicle, odds are, you’re looking for another one! However, it’s not always easy to get approved for a car loan if your credit score isn’t great. Some dealerships are signed up with bad credit auto lenders, but it can be hard to know where to go for these resources.

When you’re in need of special financing, CarsDirect is here to help. We’ve created a nationwide network of dealers that are signed up with subprime lenders – they specialize in assisting borrowers with credit challenges.

To get matched to a dealership in your local area that has special financing options, fill out our free auto loan request form, and we’ll get right to work.


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