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Typically when you sell (or buy) a vehicle from another person, you’d fill out the title with both parties’ information, the seller would fill out and submit a release of liability to the DMV, and the buyer would provide the filled-out title to the DMV. The DMV would then process and send out the updated title with the new owner’s information. Sometimes when the vehicle is being sold, there is no title available either because it was lost or damaged.
How to Sell (or Buy) a Car Without a Title
Fortunately, if you are buying or selling a vehicle and there is no title, it is still possible to complete the transaction although you will need to follow a few additional steps (including a visit to the DMV.) Please note that this pertains to the DMV process in California, but may be the similar to other states in the United States. Generally, you’ll need to complete two DMV forms:
- Reg 227: Application for Duplicate or Transfer of Title (a.k.a. Bill of Sale)
- Reg 262: Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form
The first form Reg 227 (also known as the Bill of Sale) is used to show proof that a sale was made between two parties. The second form Reg 262 is the form that tells the DMV that the transfer of the vehicle is being requested. Both these forms will be required to be submitted to the DMV in order for the vehicle to be placed in the new owner’s name. There are a few additional requirements that are important to know:
- Form Reg 227 is readily available online to print, however Form Reg 262 is not. The DMV informed me that Reg 262 is a form that must be picked up in a DMV office and should not be printed online. The forms in the DMV office are official copies printed with specific colors on them. Honestly, I don’t see why it’s necessary to complete an in-office form rather than print it online and fill it out. Regardless, the DMV says you must use the Reg 262 form from one of their offices, so that’s the process to follow.
- The forms need to have wet signatures. So, you cannot electronically sign the form and print it out. You also cannot sign the forms with ink, and then print or make copies thereafter. The signatures must be signed with ink and submitted directly to the DMV that way.
- Finally, I have noticed that Form Reg 227 also has a version called “Application for Replacement or Transfer of Title”. This is slightly different from the one I have included below called “Application for Duplicate or Transfer of Title”. Strangely, the version of the form I found online is newer than the one the local DMV provided and instructed me to fill out. Therefore, my recommendation is to simply go into your local DMV office and tell them you are trying to sell (or buy) a vehicle and have them provide the forms they specifically want you to fill out. This way, you guarantee you’re filling out exactly what they want you to fill out.
For the Buyer: How do you Know if the Person Selling you the Car is Actually the Registered Owner?
If you’re purchasing a car from someone who does not have the title, how do you know if they are actually the registered owner of the vehicle? Since you don’t have the title to verify this, you might be able to check if the insurance information matches up with the ID of the seller, which might be an indicator that they are the owner (it makes sense that the owner of a vehicle would pay for insurance for their own vehicle.) However, I discovered another way that guarantees you know who the registered owner is through the DMV.
The DMV allows you to request for another person’s vehicle record through the INF 70 Form. This form can be found here: DMV Form INF 70
However, if you are requesting your own vehicle registration record, you need to fill out INF 1125. This physical form can be found here: DMV Form INF 1125
To request someone else’s information with the INF 70 Form, you have to submit it by mail and wait for the information to be sent to you. However, if you fill out an online request for the INF 1125, you can get the registered owner information instantly. The caveat is that technically, this online request (INF 1125) is intended for the owner of the vehicle to request their own information.
Making this online request, you only need to create an account with the DMV, enter the license plate number and last 5 digits of the VIN, and then pay a $2 fee online (at the time of this writing.) After that, you are provided with a full vehicle history report from the DMV, which includes what you are looking for, the R/O (a.k.a. Registered Owner). Below is a sample of what you get from the DMV instantly. This is what I received when I ran a check on my own vehicle.
After verifying that the seller is indeed the registered owner using the proper form as instructed by the DMV, you’ll need to proceed with completing two forms: Reg 227 and Reg 262.
More Details on the DMV Forms Required for Buying/Selling a Car Without a Title
These are the two forms mentioned earlier that need to be submitted to the DMV in order for you to sell (or buy) a vehicle without a title.
Reg 227 – Application for Duplicate or Transfer of Title
This form is filled out if you have lost your title and are requesting a duplicate title (e.g. you are not selling the car and are simply requesting a replacement title.) This form is also used if you are transferring the vehicle and do not have a title.
The form requires some vehicle information, current registered owner of the vehicle’s information including their driver’s license number and phone number, and their seller’s wet signature. The backside of the form requires the date of sale and purchase price, as well as the buyer’s information including their driver’s license number, phone number, and wet signature. I’ve only mentioned some of the major items to be filled out, but ensure you follow the directions on the form and fill out everything it instructs you to complete.
Reg 262 – Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form
Next, is the Reg 262 form which is also known as the Bill of Sale. This form requires some information carried over from Reg 227, such as the buyer and seller info, date of sale, purchase price, buyer and seller information, driver’s license number, phone number, and wet signatures. It also requires the odometer reading. As mentioned on the other form, I only highlight the major items to be filled out; ensure you follow the directions on the form and fill out everything it instructs you to.
Submitting Both Forms and Completing the Transfer
Finally, when you have both forms completely filled out, you can go to the DMV and submit these forms in-person. Remember that the forms must be filled out by pen and all signatures must be wet signatures. Also, you should not have any mistakes on the form such as scribbles, lines that are drawn over one another—basically anything that indicates that the form could have been manipulated. The DMV wants to ensure the forms were not altered in any way.
When you submit your forms to the DMV in-person, they will be able to process your transfer right then-and-there. You may be required to pay the registration fees and taxes as well. After about a week or so, you should receive the new title (and registration if applicable) with your information on it.
It can be a bit complicated when you are trying to buy or sell a vehicle and the title is lost or missing. However, as long as the seller is the registered owner of the vehicle you have both buyer and seller willing to fill out these two DMV forms, there won’t be much of an issue transferring the vehicle through the DMV. I hope you find this article has helped you in buying or selling a car without a title.