Person driving car

Phone, wallet, keys…car title? Even the most important things can get lost sometimes. They might become damaged, stolen, or simply lost by mistake. Most of your important personal effects are either expensive or panic-inducing to have to replace, but they are nevertheless perfectly replaceable. So, what about things like your car title? Can you just replace something like that? If you’re reading this in a cold sweat, don’t worry. Just like your driver’s license, your car title is also replaceable.

What is a car title and why do you need it?

You get more than a new key for your key ring when you buy a car. Every car comes with a document called a car title that you’ll need to keep as long as you own the car. A car title is a single document containing important information about your car such as miles on the odometer when last sold, history of serious damage sustained, and, of course, the fact that you own it. It certifies that you own your vehicle and that you are entitled to all the rights and privileges that come with ownership. If you’ve misplaced your car title, or worse, someone stole it, then you’ll have trouble legally proving you own your car.1

How to get a replacement car title

Exactly how to apply for a lost title varies by state. However, the process typically begins at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You will likely need to bring a completed duplicate title application from your DMV’s website, proof of ID (or a notarized application in some states), and payment for the application fee.1 For example, in the state of New York, drivers must provide the completed application, ID (which may include driver’s license), learner’s permit or non-driver ID, and a $20 check or money order for the replacement fee.2

Replacing a car title in your name

If the car title is already in your name, you’ll need to complete a duplicate title application from your local DMV, provide some form of approved identification, and pay the replacement fee. This can usually be done in person, by mail, or online.

Replacing a car title not in your name

If you’re replacing a car title that wasn’t in your name, you’re likely buying the car and you’ll need a new title. If you’re purchasing from a dealer, your paperwork will be forwarded to the local DMV for processing. If you’re buying from a private seller, they’ll either transfer the vehicle title over to you or, if they don’t legally own the car, you’ll have to contact their lienholder to obtain the title. To complete the process at your DMV, you’ll likely need the title, a bill of sale, odometer disclosure agreement, and lien information or a lien release if you are borrowing money to buy the car or buying it from a seller who had a lien against it.1

How much does it cost to file for a lost car title?

The cost of replacing a lost car title can vary by state. In New York the title replacement fee is $20.2 If you’re replacing a car title in Texas, you’ll only pay $5.45 if you conduct the transaction in person ($2 by mail).3

How long does it take to get a duplicate title?

Since different states’ DMVs operate differently, the speed at which you’ll receive your duplicate title can vary. In New York the duplicate title should be mailed within 2-3 business. However, the process may take longer in other states.2

Just as a car title protects your legal ownership of your car, having good auto insurance protects you against the unexpected. Get a free quote from Nationwide today and learn how auto insurance can protect both you and your car.

3, Accessed November 2021.

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