In most states, a motorcycle is considered a motor vehicle and therefore falls under motor vehicle titling laws. Typically, when you purchase a motorcycle, the seller will endorse -- that is, sign -- the title certificate and hand it over to you, the buyer. You would then use the endorsed title to apply for a new title in your name from your state's motor vehicle authority. In cases where the original title is not at hand, however, many states allow the use of a bill of sale instead of an endorsed title. To get a title for a motorcycle from a bill of sale, submit the appropriate application to the motor vehicle authority in your state.
Visit the local office of your state's motor vehicle authority. Inquire about the procedure for obtaining a motorcycle title. Commonly, the procedure for motorcycles is the same as for cars and trucks. Inquire further about what is required for a valid bill of sale. Most motor vehicle authorities provide bill of sale forms that meet the titling regulations.
Before you leave the office, obtain the appropriate title application and a blank bill of sale. Alternatively, most states make these forms available online for download and printing.
Determine whether your bill of sale meets your state's titling regulations. Generally, a bill of sale must include contact information and signatures from both the buyer and the seller, identification details for the motorcycle and the sale price. In some cases, the motorcycle engine number must be included on the bill of sale. If the bill of sale that you hold does not meet the requirements in your state, you must contact the seller to remedy the deficiencies.
Complete a title application. Though applications differ from state to state, in every case you must identify the motorcycle and yourself. Commonly, one application form is used for many related purposes; indicate that you are applying for a new title in the appropriate space.
Take the completed title application and the bill of sale to your local DMV. Submit the documents along with the required fees. Alternatively, mail the documents and fees to the address indicated on the application. After your application is processed, a new title will be issued in your name according to local procedure.
- Washington State Department of Licensing: Transferring Ownership When Buying From a Private Party
- Washington State Department of Licensing: Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) Application
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation: Title/License Plate Application
- Montana Department of Justice: Driver Services: Vehicle Title and Registration
- Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration: Application for Certificate of Title
- DMVNV.com: 50-State DMV Links
- California Department of Motor Vehicles: Bill of Sale
- Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles: Bill of Sale
- Washington State Department of Licensing: Vehicle/Vessel Bill of Sale