You can buy a used car if the seller has lost or misplaced the title. However, you still need to be cautious. To ease your mind, the seller can verify that he owns the vehicle with a current vehicle registration card. If that is unavailable, a VIN verification from the Department of Motor Vehicles or County Tax office can provide this information. From here the process of obtaining your vehicle title and registration is moderately easy. Regardless of which U.S. state you live in, it is just a matter of completing some Department of Motor Vehicles forms and paying the required fees.
Go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or County Tax office with the car seller. If you do not have the seller’s current vehicle registration, ask for a VIN verification print out on his vehicle. This will confirm that the seller is the current and legitimate owner. While you are there, obtain a copy of an Application for Duplicate Title and bill of sale form.
Complete the Application for Duplicate title form with the seller. Make sure that the “Registered Owner(s) of Record,” “Registered Owner Release of Ownership” and “New Registered Owner(s)” sections are filled in. The form will also need to be signed and dated.
Have the seller fill out the bill of sale form. Both of you will need to sign and date it when it is complete.
Get the seller to obtain a smog certificate for your car if he has not provided one for you. This is a mandatory requirement in most U.S. states during used car purchase transactions. A smog center can be located through the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Automotive Repair. A local mechanic can also refer you to a reputable smog testing center.
Schedule an appointment with your local Department of Motor Vehicles or County Tax office. Bring the seller and yourself along with the duplicate title application, bill of sale, driver license and smog certificate. Pay the required registration and vehicle title fees. You will receive the title and registration card for your car within a few weeks.
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