A title establishes legal ownership of your car. If you've misplaced or damaged your original car title, you can request a replacement title. The process for replacing a title is basically the same in every state. You'll need to complete a replacement title application and submit it to the appropriate state or local office.
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If you're financing the vehicle, the lienholder generally holds the title until you pay off the loan. In a few states, including New York, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Wyoming, Montana, Missouri and Michigan, as well as Washington, D.C., the owner maintains possession of the title. In states where the lender holds the title, you can request a lien release once the loan is satisfied. When the lien is released, you'll receive the title.
Obtaining a Replacement Application
The name of the form may vary depending on the state, but you'll need to complete an application for a duplicate title. In Florida, the form is called "Application for Duplicate or Lost in Transit/Reassignment for Motor Vehicle." In California, the form is "Application for Duplicate Title." You can typically obtain the forms in person or online. If you want to complete the form in person, you'll need to visit your local tax collector or department of motor vehicles. Certain states, such as New York, allow you to complete and submit the application online. Other states require you to print and mail the form.
Completing the Application
Applications typically ask for the owner's name, co-owner's name, email address and mailing address. If your current address differs from what is on file, you may need to submit documentation to verify your address and identity. If there's a lien holder, you may need to provide the name of the lender and date of the lien. You must provide the vehicle identification number. Depending on the state, you may also need to enter the year, make, model, color, license plate number and odometer reading. Sign the completed application to confirm the information is correct and accurate. The address to which to mail the application is usually printed on the top of the application. Although you may be able to obtain the application at your local DMV or tax collector, you may need to return the application to a separate office.
Verification and Fees
You'll need to submit a copy of your identification along with your application. Acceptable forms of ID generally include a driver's license, learner's permit or state-issued ID card. If you're submitting the application in the mail, you'll need to pay the replacement title fee with a check or money order. Cash, check or money orders are acceptable payment methods in person. The replacement title fees vary by state. For example, in Florida, the fee is $75.25 as of 2015. In New York and California, the fee is $20. In North Carolina, it is $15 for a duplicate title. Wisconsin charges $20 and an additional $5 service fee if you apply in person. In Georgia, the fee is $8.
Submitting the application in person doesn't guarantee you'll get it immediately. The state may send the request to another office for printing. However, some states do offer expedited on-the-spot replacement titles. Standard processing times range from about a couple days to a couple of weeks, depending on the state. For instance, In North Carolina, there is a 15-day waiting period before titles are issued. In New York, titles ordered before 8 p.m. are printed the next business day. If you're receiving the title in the mail, it may take a few additional days before it arrives.