Is It Possible to Sell a Car Without a Title?
While it is illegal to sell a car without proof of ownership in most jurisdictions, there are legal ways to sell a car even if you don’t physically have (or can’t find) the title. States that have an Electronic Lien and Titling (ELT) Program like Maryland and Virginia will allow you to trade in a car without a title. This is because dealerships have access to the ELT database so they can confirm and transfer vehicle ownership seamlessly.
If you are conducting a private sale, you are required to have the vehicle’s title in hand or you may request a duplicate if your title was lost, stolen or damaged. Prior to selling, be sure to request your new or duplicate title several weeks before, as titles can take time to process. You must request the duplicate title from the state the vehicle is registered in. Once you receive the duplicate title, it will void the original.
When selling a vehicle that is financed or has a lien on it, you will need to reach out to the lender directly. They will be able to guide you through the process and ensure the sale and title transfer goes smoothly.
Why Does Your Vehicle Need a Title?
When you purchase a new or used car, you are provided legal proof of ownership (A.K.A. the title). If you are financing or leasing a car, you will likely never see the physical title unless you purchase the vehicle outright.
Titles can vary state by state but generally they list the following information about the vehicle:
- Vehicle’s make, model, color, body style and manufacturing year
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Mileage at the time of the purchase
- License plate number
- Buyer’s name, address and issue date
What Are the Types of Car Titles?
Over a car’s lifetime, the title can change depending on the vehicle’s condition. Some of the most common types of titles are:
- Clear – The most desirable car title available and the only one that lenders will approve for a car loan.
- Salvage – This title is issued to a car that has seen a significant decrease in value due to a crash, theft or subsequent repairs.
- Rebuilt/reconstructed – The insurance company or body shop where the rebuild took place will issue this title after an inspection deems it safe to drive in public.
- Bonded – A vehicle with missing ownership documents will be given this title. It’s valid for three to five years and protects the new owner from potential ownership disputes.
Are Some Car Sales Exempt from Title Requirements?
Under certain conditions, you may not always need a vehicle’s title in order to sell it. Of course, it depends on the rules and regulations of your jurisdiction, but in special circumstances, you can sell a car without a title.
- A standardized bill of sale form may suffice for proof of ownership if the vehicle is more than 15 to 25 years old. In states that don’t require a standardized form, any bill of sale template should suffice.
- A transfer of ownership without a title may be a feasible option in some states that allow it. The buyer would then need to obtain a title for the vehicle. Additional documentation may be required.
- Selling to an out-of-state buyer without a title can be difficult if your state has deemed the car exempt. You or the buyer should confirm the other state’s rules and regulations. You may need to provide the buyer with a copy of the vehicle’s registration in your state.
Sell Your Car to Easterns Automotive
If you live in the DC, Maryland or Virginia areas, Easterns Automotive is here to help you sell your car. As one of the leading pre-owned dealerships around, we pride ourselves on creating a stress-free environment that takes the pressure off car sellers.
We understand that getting a car ready to sell can be an overwhelming task. At Easterns, you don’t have to worry about meeting potential buyers for test drives or handling the paperwork when finalizing the sale. We take care of the logistics for you so you can focus on finding your next vehicle.