The Certificate of Title: Why’s It So Important?

Date posted: 06/15/2012

by Cara Hopkins on
in Registration & Titling

1161 The Certificate of Title: Whys It So Important?

Your car title is the most important document you possess related to your vehicle. It is proof that you legally own your car and that you are its primary driver.

Thus, a vehicle title gives the owner the power to complete a title transfer whenever selling, gifting, or donating the car; it gives the new owner proof he or she owns the vehicle.

This is why it is vitally important that you go through all the motions to obtain an official certificate of title any time you get a car, including:

  • Buying one new or used from a dealer.
  • Purchasing one during a private sale.
  • Receiving one as a gift.

You also must obtain a title whenever your original becomes lost or destroyed.

But…how do you get a title?

What is an Application for a Certificate of Title?

In order to get a vehicle title, you need to complete one or more DMV forms, depending on the circumstances.

If you are buying a used car from an individual, or if someone gives you a car as a gift, generally the previous owner completes a bill of sale (or verification of gift) to complete a title transfer. This often involves signing the back of the old certificate of title, which, in essence, signs the ownership over to you.

Title transfers can be as simple as that, or they may require an additional form in some states to officially show transfer of ownership.

But, the title transfer is only the first step. It is not enough for the prior owner to sign his or her title over to you. The next and most important step is for you to get a brand new title to the vehicle in your own name.

Where Do You Get an Application for a Title?

In some states, your application for a title is the same as the application to register your vehicle with the state. You simply fill out this one form and pay any necessary fees or taxes. In other states, you may need to fill out an additional registration form.

Where you can find these publications depends on your state. Some people can go to their local county assessor’s office; others can deal with their DMV or other motor vehicle registration agency.

Have you ever applied for a certificate of title? What process did your state require?

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About Cara Hopkins

Cara Hopkins has been a journalist and technical writer for more than 10 years. Cara is a member of the National Writers Union and has written extensively about the arts, restaurant culture, business, and education for both print and online publications. Cara loves to travel and maintains a personal Wordpress blog named Advice From a Real Live Woman. More articles by Cara Hopkins

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