Driver's Guide

How to Replace a Lost Car Title

Howdy, Driver? In this article, you will discover how to replace a lost car title. If you lost a car title, you need it urgently because a car title indicates that you are the registered owner of the car.

how to replace a lost car title

If your vehicle title is missing, damaged, or stolen, you can request an authorized copy of the title from the local department of motor vehicles. However, if the car has a lien record, you cannot request a duplicate title; the lienholder is responsible for applying for a new title certificate or they can provide you with the lien waiver also called release of lien.

If you repaid the debt, but the lien is still recorded, request an original lien waiver from the lienholder.

Typically, you may have to wait between 7 and 30 days from the day of the title application to be mailed a replacement title.

How to Replace a Lost Car Title

In this section, I highlight the various ways to obtain a duplicate title as a replacement for a missing, stolen or damaged title of a car.

Below are ways to replace a lost car title:

Order Car Title Online

You may obtain a new car title online and you must be the registered owner of the car to apply for a new title.

Replacement car title

Moreover, you can request a new car title only in the state that the car was registered. For example, if a car was registered in Colorado, you cannot order a title certificate while the car is in New York.

When you apply for the car title online, you must provide the current address on the file with the local DMV.

Also, there must be no changes to the information on the car title certificate; any changes invalidate the title application online.

In some states, if your title certificate was processed recently (often between 10 and 20 days), you cannot apply to replace a lost title online. For example, New York state does not allow you to request a title certificate online if it was processed within the last 15 days.

If you are requesting a duplicate car title for the removal of lien, you cannot order the title certificate online. And if you are applying for a title certificate in the name of a deceased, you cannot order a new title online.

Note that you may order a title for a car online using the Power of Attorney in most states.

After you apply for a new car title to replace a lost or stolen title online, you can cancel the transaction on the same day only. Some states may allow you to cancel the application; check with your local DMV.

Apply for Title by Mail

You can replace a lost car title by mail. First, complete and sign Form VTR-34 (the Application for a Certified Copy of Title).

How do I recover a lost title

You will also enclose a copy or copies (depending on your state) of your photo ID or photo ID of the owner and a mail-in fee, typically $2, by check, cash, or money order.

If the car title has a lien record, the lienholder must give you a letter of signature authority on their formal individual or business letterhead displaying their ID.

Note that the DMV mails the replacement car title to your registered address. However, if the car is put in your name, you can change the address online and request a new title. But if another party registered your vehicle, you are not able to change your address. You have to contact the Title Services Bureau or any agency in charge of car title services in your state to correct your address.

After you request the United States Postal Service (USPS) to send the mail, I advise you to keep in touch with your local DMV. Of course, there is no guarantee that the USPS will mail the document to your new address.

Apply in Person

You may replace a lost title in person by contacting your local DMV.

Can I get a copy of my car title online

Check the website of your DMV to download and complete the Application for a Certified Copy of Title (Form VTR-34).

If the car is put in your name, sign the form, provide a copy of your photo ID, and a fee between $2 and $7 depending on your state. You can pay the title application fee by cash, check, or money order.

If the title has a lien record, obtain a letter of signature authority on the original business card, lienholder’s employee ID, or letterhead from the lienholder.

Special Situations

Deceased owner

To replace a lost certificate of title, submit a certified copy of the death certificate, copy of the registration, and Certificate Form to the Secretary of State. Of course, you will be charged a fee; confirm the cost from the website of your local DMV or contact the office.

You also need additional documents like proof of insurance (avoid a fake insurance card).

Moreover, you could contact an attorney to assist with the procedure.

Vehicle Titled in the Name of an Entity

If your car is put in the name of a government entity, business organization, lienholder, or a leasing company, you require lien release and a recognized ID – certified business card, a matching authorization on letterhead with the agent, or employee, to replace a lost title.

However, someone other than the agent that signs for you must sign the letter of authorization (not applicable in some states).

Vehicle Titled in the Name of a Trust

If the car is put in the name of a trust, you must present the identification (current ID) of the trustee making the application.

To identify the trustee that is authorized to sign, support the application with any one of the following paperwork:

  • Affidavit of Trust
  • Original or certified copy of the trust agreement
  • Statement of Fact for a Trust

If you sign the car title with a power of Attorney additionally after submitting the paperwork above, you need the following documents:

  • Current identification matching the trustee or the organization named as power of attorney.
  • Current identification of the owner or lienholder
  • A written authorization on the letterhead of an organization named as power of attorney or business card (If provided to a business).

Note: The written authorization must match the identification of the employee.

Steps to Apply for a Duplicate Title

Below are steps to apply for a duplicate car title:

Contact the DMV

You may apply to replace a lost car title online, through the mail, or by contacting your local DMV.

To apply for a car title online, visit the website of your DMV, find out the requirements and cost of replacing a title certificate.

If you are applying at the local office, you may download the forms online for submission.

If you prefer to apply for a replacement title by mail, you have to follow up with the DMV because your documents may arrive late or could be mailed to a different address, especially if you make changes to your address.

Compile the Paperwork

On the website of your DMV, you may be able to download and complete the forms such as Application for Duplicate Title and other required documents.

You may be asked to provide additional paperwork such as a previous loan on the vehicle to prove ownership, vehicle identification number (VIN), and personal information. You may also need your SSN. In Wisconsin, for instance, the Department of Transportation requires a form of ID, email address, and the last 4 digits of your SSN to request title replacement.

Inform the Previous Owner to Request Replacement

If the car records a lien, you have to obtain the lien release from the lienholder and you may need additional written authorization to apply for a new car title.

Meanwhile, if the person that sells you the car claims that they lost the title, it is their responsibility to obtain the title of the vehicle. Besides, you need the title of the car to transfer ownership of the car and put the car in your name.

Apply with Court Order

If you cannot get the lien release, you can obtain a new title with a court order (not applicable in all states).

Typically, a judge must award you the ownership of the car in the court. You must provide specified information on the car such as VIN for record purposes.

Submit the Paperwork and Pay the Fee

If you are submitting the title application form online and other paperwork online, you will make payments online.

If you apply by mail, you will mail the fee as a check, cash, or money order.

If you apply at the physical office, you are to pay the replacement fee after submitting your paperwork for verification.

The cost of replacing a lost title differs by state. Check with your DMV for an updated fee for lost title replacement.

Obtain a New Title

After you apply for a new car title, you will not obtain the title at the DMV immediately.

The DMV prints the title certificates in a secure facility and a new title would be mailed to your address.

It can take 7 to 20 days to obtain a new title. However, you may request express mail that costs more than the regular mail.


Does a Duplicate Title Void the Original?

Yes, a duplicate title voids the original car title that was either lost, damaged, or stolen. If you ever find the original title, confiscate it to prevent the ownership of your car from being transferred.

Is a Duplicate Title Bad?

No, an authorized replacement title is not bad. However, duplicate title receives the bad impression they get to avoid people from transferring ownership of a car illegally.

How Long Does It Take to Get a New Vehicle Title?

Depending on your state, you may get a new vehicle title on the same day of application (attracts additional charges). In Michigan, for example, you can request the title of your car on the same day. Typically, it takes between 7 and 20 days before you receive a new car title from the mail.

Final Thought

If your car title is missing, you must replace it urgently. Of course, you need the title certificate to pawn a car title, drive legally in the state, transfer the ownership of a car, etc.

When you request a replacement title for a missing title, it may be indicated that it is a replacement title.

Moreover, some states do not accept credit cards; you must pay by checking, money order, or cash.

Finally, if you are issued a title within 15 days after the original title application, your application will not be honored, or 30 days after the issuance of a duplicate title. It is in a bid to combat fraud.

In Illinois, for instance, you cannot request a replacement for an original title issued within 15 days or a duplicate title issued within 30 days.

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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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