Can I Sell My Car Without a Title?
Selling a car is almost always a straightforward process… at least if you have the title and proper documentation on hand. But what if you don’t have the title that clearly proves you are the owner and have the legal right to transfer ownership of the vehicle from yourself to another person or party?
In that case, things can be a little trickier. Many car owners even wonder whether they can sell their cars without titles at all. Let’s answer this question and more.
Is It Legal To Sell a Car Without a Title?
Technically, yes. A title is a vital document that shows proof of car ownership. There’s a reason you have to have a title for your car when you purchase it or when you sell it to another legitimate buyer.
However, some cars are without their titles due to the above-mentioned reasons and more. Car owners may still need to sell their vehicles. Due to this need, there are ways to sell your car without a title through loopholes, special processes, and even with a straightforward bill of sale in a handful of states.
But keep in mind that most states make it illegal for you to sell your car without a title without going through one of the below three processes. Let’s break down how you can sell your car without a title—and safely!—now.
Replacing the Title
All states provide safe, legal processes to replace the title for a vehicle without a title. The exact process varies from state to state, but it essentially involves these steps:
- First, you have to provide proof of ownership if you don’t have the vehicle’s title or you never titled it yourself. For this, you may need to find an original bill of sale or look for other documents that your state might accept as proof of ownership, including a certificate of inspection, a receipt, and so on.
- Whenever you apply for a new car title, you have to provide the same documentation. You’ll also need to complete an affidavit that attests that you own the vehicle legally and safely.
- Next, you go to your state’s DMV website and visit the title replacement page. Each state has a different process, so explore the DMV website carefully. Or visit this DMV page for more information.
- Then fill out a duplicate title request form on your state’s DMV website. You can either do this online and mail the form to the DMV or visit the DMV office in person.
- Eventually, you’ll need to visit the DMV office anyway to finish the process. You’ll need to bring your ID and proof of vehicle ownership, as well as pay a duplicate title fee ranging from between $10 and $80.
- The DMV will have you create a bill of sale to facilitate the sale of the vehicle. Then all you need to do is finish the “transfer” section on the back of the title paperwork to transfer the title ownership from yourself to the buyer.
Depending on your state of residence, your buyer might be able to request a temporary permit that lets them operate the new vehicle while they are still waiting for everyplace or duplicate title. In this way, the buyer can take ownership of the vehicle and operate it before the title arrives.
You may also be able to pay extra for “express services” and have your title printed ASAP. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait between one and two weeks after submitting the title replacement form.
Selling a Vehicle With a Lien
Instead of outright replacing the title, you can also sell your vehicle using a lien. This is most common if you don’t own your vehicle outright but instead have purchased your car through a loan (which includes millions of Americans). In these circumstances, the car is owned by the lienholder or lender. So when you sell the vehicle, you have to essentially sell it without the title anyway.
There are a few different ways you can do this.
For starters, you can sell your car through a designated car dealership. Car dealers make arrangements to pay off the loan entirely, which transfers the title into your name. Then they quickly sell the vehicle to a willing buyer. You’ll either make a certain amount of profit or you can use the proceeds to fund the purchase of a new vehicle through a trade-in process.
However, keep in mind that selling your vehicle through a car dealership usually results in you losing money overall. That’s because most trade-in deals are worth less than a car’s fair market value compared to selling it to another private individual.
Alternatively, you could sell your vehicle at a lender’s office. If you find a willing buyer for your vehicle, you and the buyer can meet at the lender’s office, and they can be present while the buyer transfers funds to pay off the loan. Once you have the title in your name, you can simply sell it to the buyer quickly and easily. You may need a notary present to officialize the process, of course.
Lastly, the buyer can transfer funds directly to the lender using a cashier’s check or wire transfer. This may satisfy the terms of the lien, and it could provide more assurance for the buyer. Because the funds are routed directly to the lender, the seller never gets their hands on the money and can’t misuse or steal it.
Once again, this method of selling your car without a title only works if the lienholder has the title in their possession.
Selling an Exempt Car
Some cars may be sold without their titles if they are exempt. The majority of states don’t issue titles to vehicles that are greater than 15 to 25 years old. Instead, these states have standardized bills of sale. These can be completed and buyers can use them to register car ownership.
When this occurs, the buyer and seller must still complete a legitimate bill of sale form as indicated by their state’s DMV office.
What if You’re Selling to an Out of State Buyer?
Things can get a little tricky if you are selling to an out-of-state buyer who requires a title because of their state’s laws. If you don’t have a title for the vehicle and your state deems your vehicle exempt, you’ll need to provide extra documentation and a notarized bill of sale.
You may also need to provide a separate notice of sale. When in doubt, contact your state’s DMV office for official guidance.
Ultimately, it’s certainly possible to sell a vehicle without a title. But the exact process varies from state to state. Most of the time, you’ll just need to replace the title over a few weeks by filling out the requisite form at your state’s DMV office.
Lost My Car Title: How to Get a New Title | DMV.org
42-3-103. Registration required – exemptions :: 2016 Colorado Revised Statutes :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law | Justia
How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Car | Investopedia