Can You Register a Car With a Bill of Sale and No Title?

US law requires you to register it to drive on the road legally when you buy a car. It is pretty easy to register your newly acquired vehicle if you have the title. However, what if you don’t have the title and need a new copy?

You can register a car without a title in most states in the US. However, you will need to apply for a bonded title with surety to register successfully. In this case, the process will be more tedious with much paperwork than when you use the original title.

So, let’s talk about the various ways you can achieve car registration without a title. I’ll also take you through the step-by-step process to successfully obtain a bonded title. Let’s dive right in.

Registering a car without a title.

How To Register a Car Without a Title

Every state requires you to present a title when registering your car. A title is a certificate that proves you are the legal owner. If you don’t have one, the first essential step is to get it.

There are three methods to get your vehicle titled.

Transfer or Replacement of Title From the Previous Owner

If you bought a vehicle and were not issued a title, you’ll first need to check whether the previous owner has a title for it. If they do, you’ll have to go over the paperwork together at your State’s DMV office to transfer ownership.

You will fill out the necessary documents. Upon completion, the state office will present you with a new title with which you can register your car.

A transfer of title can take up to two weeks to go through.

If the previous registered owner lost the title, I recommend that they file for replacement themselves before transferring ownership. It will be much easier than the paperwork and the back-and-forth you’ll undergo pursuing a bonded title.

However, if you can’t trace the prior owner, with a bill of sale in hand, you can opt to obtain a title through the Vermont Titling or bonding processes.

You may also like to read: How to Get a New Car Title

The Vermont Titling Process

If your vehicle is older than 15 years, you can register it in Vermont State even as a non-resident. You’ll then present the acquired registration certificate to your home state to obtain a title. Titling in Vermont is possible because the state is a “non-titling jurisdiction.” You can learn how to register via this video:

However, if your car is not older than 15 years, you should attempt to apply for a bonded title in your state.

The Title Bond Process

A bonded title is a legal document that defines the ownership of a vehicle. It is attached to a surety bond which holds you responsible for any financial liability attached to the car.

Some states require you to acquire a bonded title to complete registration, while others don’t. Therefore, you should check whether your state is enlisted for bond titles before deciding to obtain one.

The requirements for getting a bond title also vary from state to state. Typically, you will follow the procedure below:

Step 1: Present the Bill of Sale to Your DMV

The first step is to present your bill of sale and other supporting documents to your State’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

They will determine whether or not you are eligible for a bonded title. If you qualify, the DMV will approve and send you pertinent information detailing the amount of surety bond you will need to buy.

Step 2: Buy Surety Bond

Once you receive the information, you’ll purchase a surety bond from an approved surety company. The surety bond is usually higher than the estimated value of the car. The bond amount forms a basis for determining the premium you’ll pay for the title bond.

Depending on the agreement between you and the surety company, you can pay the premium in:

  • Full
  • Monthly payments
  • Quarterly payments
  • Annual payments
  • Bi-annual payments

Step 3: Get a Bonded Title

Once you complete paying the premium, you’ll be issued the title bond certificate. You’ll then apply for a bonded title by presenting the certificate and other necessary documents to the state office.

Consequently, you’ll receive the bonded title, which will list you as the vehicle owner. Depending on your state, the title will hold between 3 to 5 years for it to clear and become a regular title.

Other Situations You Might Require a Bonded Title

Besides not receiving a title from the vehicle’s previous owner, there are other instances you might need a bonded title for your car. These instances include:

  • When the title is improperly assigned by the seller, rendering it invalid.
  • When you fall victim to ‘title jumping.’
  • You purchase a vehicle with the title but lose it before changing it to your name.
  • When you receive a title that doesn’t describe the car accordingly.
  • When the title is completely damaged.
  • When you bought an old or custom-made vehicle with no original title.
Cost of a Title Bond

As mentioned earlier, the cost of a title bond is calculated from the surety bond issued. According to, a surety agency, if your vehicle is worth up to $6,000, you’ll get a title bond that costs $100.

The premium, however, starts increasing when the surety bond exceeds $6,000. For vehicles valued above $20,000, you will pay $15 for every $1000. In this case, your car may also be subjected to underwriting.

Step 4: Car Registration

Once you receive your title, you can proceed to register your car. The process can take up to 5 business days to complete. Besides registering, you can purchase the necessary insurance or even sell the vehicle using the title.

In Summary

Do not panic about the idea of registering a car without a title. As long as you have the bill of sale or any other proof of ownership, visit the nearest DMV branch in your state for advice. You can also go for the Vermont titling way, which can be cheaper and faster than title bonding.

I hope this post helps you jumpstart the registration process. All the best!




Scroll to Top