How to Replace A Lost or Stolen Car Title

Dustin Hawley | Sep 19, 2022

If you lost your car title, or worse yet, it was stolen from you, things can get complicated. Most people tend to panic, but in reality, the whole process of replacing your car title is relatively simple.

How to Replace A Lost or Stolen Car Title

Today we will look at what to do if your title is lost or stolen. Let’s compare the two situations, look at potential difficulties, and outline the process of obtaining a car title replacement. 

Stolen Car Title

A stolen car title presents serious issues to the owner. Titles are a commodity on the black market, and car thieves or title forgers could easily cause you to lose ownership of your car. It could take months of your time and thousands of dollars in financial costs to prove you are the legal owner. You might know the truth, but it takes a lot of time to sort that out in the legal system. 

However, you can avoid this by quickly filing for car title replacement through your local DMV. It will void the stolen one and prevent it from being registered again. 

Lost Car Title

While this scenario is not as urgent as the previous one, it can be just as painful. Apart from the whole process of filing for replacement, this could spell trouble in some other areas. For instance, when you decide to sell your vehicle and find a buyer, only to discover that you’ve misplaced the title. 

The traffic police will also not appreciate you driving around without a car title. Doing this is illegal in most states, and you risk being liable for a severe fine if they do a document check. In the worst-case scenario, your vehicle will be impounded, leaving you carless for an unspecified amount of time. 

Both situations mentioned above can be resolved by replacing your car title.

Preparing For Title Replacement

Replacing the Certificate of Title is relatively painless nowadays. All you have to do is visit the website of your local DMV and find what you’ll need to have on hand. The process slightly differs from state to state, but, generally, it’ll look something like this: 

  • Fill in a lost title application (found on your state’s DMV website)
  • Mail the form(s) with all required documents and fees
  • Optional: visit your local DMV and file for replacement in-person

You should always start by visiting your state’s DMV website and looking for duplicate title forms. This task can be performed quickly by “[your state] duplicate title form” in a search engine, including the quotation marks. 

The paperwork involves filling out your name, address, driver’s license number, and basic vehicle information (VIN, license plate, year, make, etc.). Required documents include your ID and insurance card and proof of paid property taxes, which, in some states, should come with a notary stamp. 

Replacing the car title should cost you around $50 on average. It will usually take 6 to 8 weeks to receive the new document, but the time frame varies between states and cities. It is important to note that you won’t get the title onsite. Instead, It will be securely mailed to your address.

Summary

If you lose your car title or someone steals it, you should try to replace it as soon as possible. Always start by visiting your state’s DMV website and look for requirements there, as there are slight differences in the process across the US.

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