How to Get a Car Ownership Replacement

There are many reasons why you might need a new or updated car name. The most obvious and common is that you misplaced. Depending on how vigilant you are about storing paperwork like Social Security cards, birth certificates, housing deeds, etc., you may not be able to find out your car ownership.

However, there are other reasons, such as your car’s title may be destroyed in a house fire, stolen along with other documents in a burglary, made illegible by floodwaters, or your dog ate it. In any case, it’s gone.

If you find yourself without a title, you should address this early. You won’t need it until you want to sell, trade in or dispose of your car. However, you may also need it to re-register your vehicle if you relocate to another state. When those situations arise, you don’t want to be scrambling to get an alternate title at the last minute. Most states take time, in some cases, two to six weeks for new books to be mailed.

Here, we’ll provide an overview of how to ensure replacement titles and what background documents may be required to complete the process.

One thing to keep in mind though – individual states control the realm of ownership vehicles, and each state has its own requirements for ownership changes. Some states even require a title update if you change your name.

What is a car name?

Car ownership provides proof of vehicle ownership. It is a legal document issued by the state to identify a specific car and its owner. When a vehicle changes hands, the identity of the owner changes, but the identity of the car will always remain the same. For example, the title includes the vehicle’s vehicle identification number (VIN), year, make, model, and color.

If you own the vehicle outright, you will only have original title. In other words, if you fund a car with an outstanding balance and payment, you won’t have original title. You won’t get the original until you pay for the vehicle in full. It is a copy showing the finance company as the lien holder if you are financing the car and owning the title.

Likewise, if you lease, the car is not yours and will not be yours unless you purchase the vehicle at the end of the lease. A lease is similar to a long-term lease. The lessor retains title and title.

What do you need to replace the car title?

Each state has requirements and procedures for changing car ownership. Check with your state to determine the specific paperwork required. However, as a rule of thumb, the expectation yields:

  • Vehicle Identification Number: This is the vehicle identification number of the car. You can find it etched into a plate on the driver’s side on the far left of the dash, where it meets the windshield. It also usually appears on a nameplate or sticker on the driver’s side door frame.
  • Year, make and model: The year is the model year of the car, the brand is the manufacturer, and the model is the nameplate of the car. For example, the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu is the year, make and model.
  • license: You will need to provide the vehicle’s current license plate number and problem status.
  • Odometer reading: In the driver’s instrument cluster, the odometer tracks the total mileage since it rolled off the assembly line.
  • Proof of Ownership: You may need to prove that you own the vehicle. You may need a notarized sales slip or vehicle registration form to prove ownership.
  • Lien holder: If there is, it is the entity that finances the vehicle. You will need to identify the lien holder and provide their contact information. Some states also require the lien holder to sign a form allowing a copy of title to be released.
  • driver’s license: You will need to show photo ID and perhaps a current utility bill sent to you. Most states will accept a range of photo IDs.
  • cost: There will be some kind of fee for this service. You should determine the fee and acceptable payment methods (check, credit card, debit card, etc.) in advance.

country requirements

Since each state needs something different, we looked at a few examples. Some states allow online applications, others do not. This information includes an application to replace with a clean title. That is, simple replacements rather than more complex issues such as ownership changes.

New York

Empire State allows you to apply for a change of title online by mail or in person on the DMV website. Whichever you choose, you must complete an application for duplicate titles. To complete it, you will need a VIN, license plate number and personal information. The application fee is $20.

To apply by mail, you will need to submit a copy of your completed title application and a copy of your New York State driver’s license, study permit, or non-driver identification. They will also accept U.S. passports or passport cards, military photo IDs, and other legal forms of ID. You must also include a check for the $20 fee.

Going to the DMV office requires you to bring an application form, identification and a $20 fee.


The state allows applications to change title by mail or in person at a DMV office. The DMV will mail the replacement title to the applicant within 15-30 days.

The process requires a complete replacement application, either by mail or in person. It includes the vehicle’s VIN, make, model and year, as well as license plate information. If appropriate, you will need the lien holder’s name and contact information. You may also need a vehicle verification form that must be completed by an approved state agent, such as an employee of the DMV. State employees will verify odometer readings, VIN, etc.

Mail-in applications require a copy of an approved government-issued ID. For example, you can make a photocopy of a driver’s license or non-driver ID. An original photo ID is required for in-person applications.


You can apply for a title change by mail or in person in the Lone Star State. The fee is $2 if you apply by mail, or $5.45 if you apply in person. Regardless of how you apply, you must complete a “copy of title certificate” application. Texas is fairly liberal in the types of photo IDs it accepts. The list is long and does include typical driver’s licenses and non-driver IDs. As with the other states we’ve detailed above, if you’re applying by mail, you must provide a copy of your approved ID. If visiting in person, original ID must be presented.

You can only apply in person in 16 cities, including Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio and 12 others. However, there is a catch: in cities that offer in-person application, you must apply in person. The only exception is Wichita Falls, Texas, as its DMV address is where all mail applications are received.

Can you get alternative titles online?

In a world capable of doing all kinds of business online, we might assume this applies to changing car ownership. The simple fact is that in some states you can and in others you can’t. Of our three state examples above, only New York accepts applications to change title online. Even here, however, New York restricts online filing to New York residents to replace their title as listed owner.

Check with your state’s DMV.

What if the car is not in your name?

You may need to change the name of a vehicle that is not in your name for a number of reasons. When you are not the owner of record, obtaining alternate ownership will vary depending on the circumstances and your state. Whatever the reason, you should contact your state’s DMV to determine the best course of action.

Maybe a relative died unexpectedly, leaving behind a car whose title you couldn’t find. Another possibility is that you bought the vehicle from a private owner who transferred ownership to you, but then it was misplaced. These are two very different situations that require two very different approaches to securing replacement ownership. Also, there may be other possibilities that we haven’t considered.

If the title you are trying to replace is not under your name, there is no universal answer. However, for the two examples above, here are some possibilities.

Death and Succession: Regardless of whether the deceased has prepared a will, any assets left behind remain legally part of that person’s estate. Someone will act as the executor of the estate to meet outstanding financial obligations and distribute any remaining assets. If there is a will, the probate court oversees the process. Once the estate is settled, the beneficiary can easily apply for new ownership. It only requires obtaining the old title, the death certificate of the previous owner, and the release of assets from the probate court (if applicable).

However, if the header is missing, all is not lost. You will need proof that you are the beneficiary (executor or court can provide) and a death certificate. You must also provide all common identifying information for the vehicle, such as VIN, year, make, model and color. You will also need the odometer reading. Although additional documents and fees may be required in your state, it is possible to obtain title in these cases.

Missing transfer titles: Your first course of action is to contact the previous owner if the title to transfer is lost or destroyed before you file it with the state. The easiest thing for you to do is convince the person to apply for an alternate title and then sign it to you. Provide payment of fees and any other related fees. If you cannot find the previous owner or the owner is uncooperative, you can apply for bonded title unless you file a lawsuit.

A title marked as bonded is a title in a secured bond. This is a way to establish ownership when there is a problem with ownership. It involves obtaining a bond from a bond company with an estimated value of the vehicle. In the event of a title dispute, it will cover the aggrieved party’s claim. The guarantee guarantee company will charge you a percentage of the guarantee amount. The length of time varies by state, but after three years, for example, you can apply for a clean title. The guarantee company keeps the amount you paid for the guarantee.

Steps to change the car name

If you find yourself out of ownership of a car, the best place to start the replacement process is to determine your state’s requirements for a change of ownership. From there, you should do the following:

  1. Secure proof of ownership. In most states, your car registration, sales slip, etc. will suffice.
  2. complete application. Every state website offers some type of application to start the replacement process. If you are still paying, it usually includes all vehicle identification information, your identification information, the car’s odometer reading and lien holder information.
  3. your ID. Whether you apply online, by mail, or in person, you will need to show photo ID. It can be scanned if applying online or photocopied if applying by mail. Most states will accept multiple forms of ID such as driver’s license, non-driver ID, military ID, etc.
  4. payment method. Regardless of how you apply, most states will accept payment by check or money order.
  5. submit application. After submitting the request, the time will vary. Read more about it below.

How long does it take to get an alternate title?

Most, if not all, states mail replacement headers. This can take anywhere from two to six weeks from the date of application. Express delivery may be available in your state for an additional fee. Some states will even change the new title within a day if you apply in person. Check with your state’s DMV.

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