The title of a vehicle is an important document that shows ownership. If the current owner of a vehicle doesn’t possess it, they could run into issues if they are trying to register their car or buy, sell, or trade it. If, for any reason, the real owner is having difficulty finding their title, there are ways they can get it using only a bill of sale.

What Is a Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale is a legal document used when an item exchanges ownership between two parties. In some cases, it is used for record-keeping and serves as a receipt of the purchase. In other circumstances, like the purchase of a motor vehicle, it has more value, becoming a part of the required documentation package together with the title and registration. A new vehicle buyer should be cautious of purchasing vehicles from a private party and only sign documentation and exchange funds when a bill of sale template is completed.

Using a Bill of Sale to Get a Vehicle Title

Getting a hold of a vehicle title is difficult. Because it shows ownership of a vehicle, agencies must make sure that there is no foul play or that the vehicle in question is not stolen before signing over a new title. People are not ideal and can lose a document due to many circumstances, including damage, robbery, fire, or misplacement. Buyers of a new car can get a title for their new vehicle using a bill of sale, and here’s how.

1. Check State-Specific Instructions

Each state has its way of handling the buying and selling of motor vehicles. Before finalizing any motor vehicle purchase, buyers and sellers should check the specific details outlined in the state legislation. Buyers can consult specifics on how to go about filing for a title for a vehicle. In most cases, buyers can request a new title with the vehicle identification number (VIN) and an odometer reading.

2. Visit your Department of Motor Vehicles

Understanding how the state in which the buyer resides processes a request for a new title helps a lot. In most cases, the buyer should go to their local State Department of Motor Vehicles, ensuring that they have the bill of sale, VIN, odometer reading, and at least two forms of identification. Some states will ask that you handle requests with the Treasury office instead, but the majority will at least point you in the right direction. During this process, the DMV will ensure there is no suspicious activity with the vehicle before proceeding.

3. Surety Bond

Once you start obtaining a title for a motor vehicle, the DMV will supply insurance and the amount of the payment you should make to secure the car. It helps keep the buyer out of a big mess if the vehicle happens to be involved in some legal problem.

4. Get a Bond Title (Fast!)

After you have the surety bond, you can make moves and quickly file for a title bond. It is a form that states that the buyer owns the vehicle, as they are the one who is requesting the new title. This form will show that the new buyer is the owner, confirming that the surety bond matches that of the DMV request.

Messy, But It’s Worth It

Securing a title for a vehicle purchased without one is not an easy process. It is more difficult in some states than others, and some allow you to use the bill of sale and follow a few procedures. Though it seems like a lot of back and forth with the DMV (and paperwork, too), it is worth it. The buyer of any vehicle must secure a title, as they can register the vehicle and have the right to sell or trade it when it comes time for a new one. When a buyer is in the market for a new vehicle and looking to buy from a private owner, they should:

  • Always insist on a title
  • Secure a surety bond and immediately take the proper steps to get a bonded title
  • Work closely with the DMV to get a new title
  • Never sign documents they do not read thoroughly or understand

Buying a used car can be a rewarding process, with the vehicle coming out much cheaper in the long run. It is a fairly straightforward process, especially if all parties correctly fill out the paperwork needed, including a bill of sale, and pass over the title. If you find yourself in a situation where there is no title, you can still purchase a vehicle, securing the title shortly afterward.

Published: Aug 1, 2022