For the Curious Minds: Learn more about Title Jumping.
Check if Your Car is Title Exempt
Some older cars may be exempt from requiring a title to sell legally. This depends on your state’s regulations:
- Cars older than 25 years are often title exempt.
- In some states, cars 15 years or older don’t need a title.
- Classic cars and collectible vehicles can also be exempt.
Check your state’s DMV website to see if your car qualifies. If it does, you can sell with just a bill of sale.
Apply for a Replacement Title
If your title is lost, damaged, or stolen, you can apply for a replacement:
- Contact your local DMV and request a duplicate title. Provide proof of ownership.
- Pay required title fees, which are usually under $25.
- It takes 2-8 weeks to receive your new title by mail in most states.
This allows you to legally sell your car once the replacement title arrives.
Explore Alternate Titling Options
Some states offer ways to title cars without standard titles:
- Abandoned vehicle title – If the car was abandoned on your property, you may be able to claim ownership.
- Mechanic’s lien – If you repaired a car but weren’t paid, you can apply for a mechanic’s lien on the title.
- Bond title – Post a cash bond for the car’s value to get a bonded title in your name.
Check options like these to get a title without transferring from the previous owner.
Use a Bill of Sale
If you can’t get a title, sell with a bill of sale:
- Get a bill of sale template from your DMV or make your own.
- Include VIN, sale price, buyer/seller details, signatures, etc.
- Notarize the bill of sale for added legitimacy.
The new owner will use the bill of sale to apply for a new title.
Sell to a Junkyard or Dealer
Junkyards often buy old cars without requiring titles. You can also sell to a dealer, who will handle titling hassles for you. While you won’t get top dollar, it makes the sale process easier.
Notify Your DMV After Selling
When you sell a car without a title, notify your DMV that you no longer own the vehicle. This releases liability for taxes, fees, tickets, etc.
With the right process, you can sell a car without a title in many cases, but not all. Be sure to research your state’s regulations and documentation requirements to handle the sale smoothly because they can AND DO vary.