Your car title is the only proof of your rightful ownership of your vehicle, and can save you from a lot of potentially stressful situations. However, filing a request for a physical copy can be a hassle because of the multiple rules and regulations that vary depending on where you live. Luckily, it’s possible to ask for a copy of your car title from the comfort of your home.
You can get a copy of your car title online in most states. However, you want to check your state’s regulations first to determine whether an online application is acceptable. If it is, you should also check what steps you should take to process your application.
In this article, I’ll take you through the process of getting a copy of your car title online and how to check the validity of the document you receive. I’ll also dive into ways you can get a hold of your car title if your state doesn’t allow online applications. Finally, I’ll give you tips on what to do if you lose your car title.
How to Get a Copy of Your Car Title Online
Fortunately, getting a copy of your car title online is convenient, quick, and straightforward. The hard part is researching the specific regulations that apply to you, as they vary widely from one locale to another. To help you shorten that research time, here are the steps you can take.
Know Who Handles Car Title Requests in Your State
Usually, your state should have a DMV or BMV that deals with issues related to automobiles. If you want to get the most accurate information that applies to your case, it’s best to research the phrase “car title” followed by your state or district’s name. Take care to click only the websites with “https” and “.gov” in their URL, as these indicate security and validity, respectively.
Check Whether Your State Allows Online Car Title Requests
As noted, not all states let you obtain your car title online. Even if they do, different DMVs and BMVs impose different rules on the matter. That’s why conducting thorough research beforehand will spare you plenty of headaches you may have to deal with later.
Follow State Instructions on Online Car Title Requests
If your state allows online car title requests per their official website, scan the website quickly. Look for a section or link along the lines of “Replacement Certificate of Title.” The link should load a form similar to what you’d file in person for a physical copy of your car title. If you don’t know what the form looks like, you can always search for samples via your search engine’s “Images” function.
Even if you’re planning to file your request in person or via mail, you’ll still want to double check your state’s regulations on car title requests via their website. That way, you have most (if not all) of the information you need to fast-track your application.
Pay the Necessary Fees for Online Car Title Requests
Car title copy requests often require a small fee, usually around $20. If you’re applying online, make sure you have your credit or debit card at the ready. You might have to wait a few weeks before you receive your document, as DMV or BMV agents process a ton of similar applications daily.
Get Your Car Title Request Notarized if It’s Required
Some states require you to get your application notarized before they process it. If this applies to you, you’ll have to print out your completed form and have it notarized. Fortunately, most banks will notarize your documents for free if you’ve been their client for a certain amount of time.Then, you can submit your request in person or by mail.
Follow Up on Your Car Title Request if Necessary
If you’ve been waiting for a month or two and you still haven’t received your car title, don’t panic. It’s possible your request went through, but the agents handling it are taking their time sifting through their backlog. Also, you can always contact them using the information provided on their website to double-check whether they’ve received your application and what your application’s status is.
Checking the Validity of a Car Title Issued Online
There’s no question that requesting a copy of your car title online is convenient. However, security is a valid concern when it comes to online documents. After all, unscrupulous and tech-savvy individuals can set up websites, pass them off as legitimate government platforms, and use the same to phish information from unwitting users.
Luckily, you can take the steps below to check whether the car title you received is valid in the eyes of the law.
Make Sure the Car Title Application URL Is Valid and Secure
Check if the website you’re applying on is run by your local government. You can do this by searching anything related to your local government and noting similarities in URLs. Speaking of which, as noted earlier, the URL must end in “.gov,” and it should start with “https” rather than “http.”
Make Sure the Application Info Is Complete and Accurate
If you want the DMV or BMV agents to process your application as quickly as possible minus mistakes, you should make sure all the required information is complete and accurate.
Specifically, most car titles should include:
- Your vehicle’s make, model, and year.
- Your vehicle’s VIN.
- Your vehicle’s color.
- Your name and address.
- The original car title issue date.
- An original signature from the institution that handled your request.
See also: Can You Put More Names on a Car Title?
Look for a Valid Seal or Watermark on Your Car Title
The surest way to tell if your car title is valid is the presence of a seal or watermark that should match the official one from your DMV or BMV. You can check this by going to your search engine’s “Images” search page, typing in “your state/area name + official seal,” and checking the results that come up.
Watch Out for Signs of a Fake Car Title
On the flip side, there are tell-tale signs that your car title may be fake. One is that any of the text seems fuzzy or unclear. Since most scammers have to go through several layers of cybersecurity to manipulate application forms for their own gain, the print quality of the car title suffers in the process.
Additional Ways to Get a Copy of Your Car Title
Let’s say your state doesn’t allow online applications for your car title. Don’t worry: You can still get your document while keeping your stress to a minimum. Otherwise, everyone else in your area who needs a car title will exercise their First Amendment rights and complain loudly!
Double-Check Your State Regulations
As I mentioned, research is your best friend when finding the most convenient way to apply for a car title copy. Take time to search for DMV or BMV offices close to your area. Join forums or social media sites that discuss the best hours to visit the particular branch you intend to visit. That way, you can avoid long wait lines.
Apply via Mail
If you don’t like visiting your local DMV or BMV in person for any reason, you can always apply by mail. Even though this approach isn’t as quick and efficient as the online one, it still beats waiting in line at your local DMV. Also, applying by mail is accepted in all 50 states. As long as you can spare the two-dollar (give or take) mail-in fee, I’d say this is the second-best way to get a copy of your car title.
What to Do if Your Car Title Gets Lost?
Let’s say you’re applying for a copy of your car title not because you need an extra copy, but because you lost it. In that case, the process of obtaining a car title will be slightly different, regardless of how you’ll go about the application process.
If your car title gets lost, file for a lost title. To do so, check your state’s DMV or BMV website to find out the steps you need to take and the information you have to provide to facilitate and complete the replacement process.
In other words, there’s a difference between applying for an extra copy and a replacement of your car title. That’s because the latter serves the full functions of the original. If you want to replace your car title, I recommend going to your local DMV in person for your application, as the process is much easier that way.
You can get a copy of your car title online in most states. However, it’s a good idea to check your local laws and regulations beforehand. If your state requires a notarized application, you’ll have to submit your form either in-person or by mail. If your car title gets lost, file for a replacement rather than a copy.