What Is a Bonded Title?
A bonded title is a provisional vehicle title issued when traditional proof of ownership is insufficient. If you’ve lost your title or purchased a used vehicle without proper documentation, a bonded title allows you to legally register and drive the car.
Bonded titles are guaranteed by a surety bond and can be used in place of a standard title for insurance, registration, and selling purposes.
However, they may be contested for 1-3 years before becoming permanent.
This guide will outline everything you need to know about bonded titles – what they are, why you need one, costs, process, and risks.
Why Do I Need a Bonded Title?
There are two main situations when you’ll need a bonded title:
- Your original title is lost or destroyed. Without it, you can’t prove ownership.
- You purchased a used vehicle, but the seller didn’t provide the title or signed transfer papers.
|Lost title||Original title lost or destroyed|
|Incomplete title transfer||Bought used vehicle without proper title transfer from seller|
|Error on title||Bought used vehicle without proper title transfer from the seller|
|Never titled vehicle||No title exists for the vehicle|
In all these cases, the DMV has no way to verify you legally own the car. So, they will require an alternative proof of ownership document – the bonded title.
This title acts as a temporary solution while you track down the original or wait out the standard title contestability period.
Another article on a similar topic: Do Stolen Cars Get a Salvage Title?
Cost of Getting a Bonded Title
A bonded title requires two main costs:
- Title surety bond: $100 minimum for basic coverage. It can range from 1.5-2x the vehicle’s value for more protection.
- DMV fees: Additional $10-$20 for title application processing and paperwork.
In total you’ll spend around $110-$120 for a standard bonded title.
Higher-value cars may have increased bonding costs.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Bonded Title?
The timeframes vary depending on your state’s processes. But generally:
- Purchasing the surety bond takes minutes to days depending on the provider.
- DMV processing and issuance takes 1-4 weeks once they receive your paperwork.
- Overall it typically takes 1-6 weeks to obtain a bonded title from start to finish.
Confirm timelines with your local DMV beforehand so you know what to expect.
Steps to Getting a Bonded Title
Follow these key steps to get a bonded title for your vehicle:
1. Contact DMV
- Explain your situation and confirm a bonded title is required in your case.
- Request the specific forms and documents needed in your state.
- Ask about any additional inspections or verifications required for out-of-state or never-titled vehicles.
2. Purchase Surety Bond
- Gather personal information like your name, address, and VIN.
- Obtain an estimated bond amount based on your vehicle’s value.
- Buy from a licensed surety bond provider for the fastest processing.
3. Submit Bond and Application to DMV
- Complete the title application fully and accurately.
- Pay any administrative or transfer fees your DMV requires.
- Submit the bonded title application and your bond proof for review.
4. Transfer or Upgrade Bonded Title
- Once issued, you can sell the vehicle using the bonded title. Inform buyers it’s a temporary title.
- After the contesting period, you can convert it to a permanent standard title.
This process provides legal proof of ownership so you can register and drive while resolving title issues.
Difference Between Bonded and Regular Title
There are two major differences between standard and bonded titles:
- Contestability: Bonded titles can be disputed for 1-3 years if ownership challenges arise. Regular titles can’t be overturned.
- Ownership Proof: Regular titles provide full, permanent proof you own the vehicle. Bonded titles are temporary conditional ownership documents.
Bonded Title Contestability Periods by State
|New York||3 years|
So bonded titles do not give you indisputable ownership immediately like regular titles do. But they allow legal use of the vehicle while title problems get resolved.
Risks of Buying a Car with a Bonded Title
As a buyer, be aware of the risks when purchasing vehicles with bonded titles:
- If the previous owner contests it, you could lose the car without compensation.
- Misting court judgments may force you to return the vehicle to its legal owner.
- You may have difficulty re-selling the car yourself until the title becomes permanent.
Always seek out regular titles first when buying used vehicles. But if bonded title is the only option, inspect thoroughly and get written seller disclosure.
Using a Bonded Title Checklist
Follow this checklist to ensure you obtain and use a bonded title properly:
- Contact DMV to confirm bonded title is required
- Gather vehicle details like VIN and value
- Purchase surety bond for 1.5-2x value
- Submit bond along with DMV forms
- Register vehicle with bonded title
- Inform buyers your title is bonded if reselling
- Convert to the permanent title after the contest period
Bonded Title FAQs
Can I get insurance with a bonded title?
Yes, a bonded title allows you to register and insure the vehicle just like a normal title.
How much does a bonded title cost?
Between $110-$120 typically – $100+ for the surety bond and $10-$20 in DMV fees.
How long is a bonded title valid?
Most states make bonded titles valid for 3-5 years before they must be converted to permanent titles.
Can I sell a car with a bonded title?
You can sell the car but must disclose to buyers it has a bonded title. The title may be contested later.
Get Your Bonded Title Quickly – Summary
Acquiring a bonded title takes some effort but provides legal proof of ownership. Following this guide’s steps and checklist will help you get a bonded title efficiently.
Understand the risks but don’t let them deter you – bonded titles allow driving legally while resolving title issues. And consult your DMV for state-specific guidance during the process because laws and procedures do vary from state to state.
With a few hours invested, you’ll get your bonded title quickly and be back on the road!