Drivers Education

What is an MSO for a Vehicle? Same as Title?

What is an MSO for a Vehicle? People often get confused about the terms MSO and MCO when it comes to new vehicles. But don’t worry, we can clear up the confusion and make things simpler. These terms are just abbreviations for the vehicle’s Certificate of Origin. Once you understand what they do, it’s not that complicated.

In this article, we will explore MSO and MCO in more detail. We’ll talk about their role in vehicle documentation and why they are important for both buyers and sellers.

So, stay tuned as we uncover the secrets of these certificates that are often overlooked. stay tuned as we unlock the secrets of these often-overlooked certificates.

What is an MSO for a vehicle?

What is an MSO for a Vehicle

The manufacturer’s statement of origin (MSO), also known as the manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO), is an important document provided by the vehicle manufacturer. It’s like the vehicle’s “birth certificate”.

An MSO/MCO is usually similar in appearance to a Certificate of Title and will tell you-

  • Name of the licensed vehicle manufacturer
  • Vehicle model, body, and model year
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Engine displacement
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

You will find an MSO is included with many things, not just vehicles. For example, aircraft, motorboats, and trailers come with them as well.

When you buy a new car, the dealership usually takes care of the MSO for you. They need it for processes like registering the vehicle for the first time and arranging extended warranties or protection packages. The MSO is also required to obtain the car’s first title and registration from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

In some situations, you may personally need to obtain the MSO. This includes cases where your state requires it for registering a new car, importing a car that hasn’t been registered in the US before, registering a car for the first time, or building a new vehicle that needs its first registration. However, dealerships typically handle the MSO for you in these situations.

When do you need an MSO?

There are several situations where you’ll need to personally obtain an MSO:

  1. Your state requires it when you register a new car for the first time.
  2. You import a car that has never been registered in the United States.
  3. You register a car for the first time.
  4. You build a new vehicle and need to get its first registration.

Usually, if you’re working with a dealership in any of these situations, they will handle the MSO for you. But if you are reading this article, chances are you’re doing things differently.

An MSO is issued when you purchase a new vehicle. It’s used to register the vehicle for the first time and obtain its first title from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Since federal law doesn’t require MSOs, each state has its own rules and requirements. Some states require MSOs, while others don’t. To know if you need an MSO for the first title and registration, you can contact your state’s DMV.

If you didn’t receive the MSO from the dealer or if you lost it, you’ll need to get a duplicate to proceed with the registration. Without the MSO, the Department of Revenue or DMV may not issue the title.

Some states allow or even require dealerships to handle the MSO on your behalf. So, if you haven’t encountered an MSO for a Vehicle during the vehicle purchase and registration process, there’s no need to worry.

How do you get an MSO for a vehicle?

The best time to ask your car dealership for a copy of your Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin is before you leave the initial sale. This ensures you have the necessary documentation to begin registering your car promptly and have essential information for proper use. If you’re out of state, having your Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin mailed to you can prevent loss while traveling.

Once you receive the document, keep it in a safe and easily accessible location in case you need to refer to it in the future.

If you encounter any difficulties obtaining your Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin, you can contact the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) for assistance with questions or problems.

With that being said, when you want to get the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) for your vehicle, it’s important to know that each state in the United States has its own rules.

Trying to make sense of each state’s MSO requirements can be challenging, but with the right information, you can make the process smooth and follow the rules. Here’s a guide to help you understand the MSO requirements in each state:

  1. Research Your State Requirements

Before you start getting the MSO, it’s crucial to research and learn about the requirements in your state. Visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website or contact them directly to get accurate and up-to-date information about MSO requirements.

  1. Check if MSO is Necessary

Some states require an MSO when you register a vehicle for the first time, while others don’t. It’s crucial to know if your state needs an MSO or not. You can check the guidelines provided by your state’s DMV to find out if you need an MSO for the initial title and registration of your vehicle.

  1. Contacting the DMV

If you’re not sure about the MSO requirements in your state or have questions about the process, reach out to your state’s DMV for help. DMV representatives can guide you on getting the MSO and tell you about any additional documents or steps you may need.

  1. Dealership Handling of MSO

In some states, dealerships take care of the MSO for you when you buy a vehicle from them. They make sure all the necessary paperwork is done and submitted to the DMV for title and registration. If you’re buying a new vehicle from a dealership, ask them about their process and confirm that they will handle the MSO for you.

  1. Getting the MSO Personally

In states where you need to get the MSO yourself, you may have to take extra steps. This could involve contacting the manufacturer directly or working with the dealership to ensure you receive the MSO when you purchase the vehicle. Follow the guidelines from your state’s DMV and any instructions from the dealership to meet the requirements.

  1. Keep the MSO Safe

Once you have the MSO, it’s important to keep it safe and easy to find. The MSO is an important document that may be needed for future transactions like selling or exporting the vehicle. Store the MSO in a secure place along with other important vehicle documents like the title and registration, so you can easily find them when needed.

  1. Following State Deadlines

Some states have specific deadlines for submitting the MSO for a Vehicle and completing the title and registration process. Make sure you know the time limits and meet the deadlines set by your state’s DMV to avoid any penalties or complications.

  1. Get Professional Help

If you find the MSO requirements and processes overwhelming or confusing, consider getting help from professionals. Licensed dealerships, title service companies, or legal professionals who specialize in vehicle documentation can guide you and make sure you meet your state’s specific MSO requirements.

Differences Between Vehicle Title, Registration, and MSO

Now that you have a better understanding of what an MSO is and why it’s important, let’s clarify the differences between an MSO, a title, and a registration.

How does an MSO differ from a title?

The MSO and title are similar but not the same. Think of the MSO as the vehicle’s birth certificate. It is issued first, even before a title is issued to the buyer. The certificate of title, on the other hand, is given to the owner when they apply for ownership through the DMV.

What about the Registration?

Registration allows you to legally drive a vehicle on public roads. You can have a title without registering the vehicle, but you won’t be allowed to drive it anywhere other than your own property.

Other types of vehicles, like motorboats, also require registration to operate them on public waterways. Each vehicle type has its own registration requirements. Additionally, most states require a minimum level of active insurance to obtain a valid registration.

In California for instance, registration works slightly differently compared to other states. If you buy a new or used car from a dealership, they are responsible for registering it on your behalf. However, in third-party sales, you’ll need to go to the DMV like in most other states.


Typically, only the dealer and the first buyer of the car will have access to the MSO. After that, the MSO is used to obtain the title, and it is rarely seen again.

Some DMVs keep a copy of the MSO or MCO on file along with the title, but this isn’t the case everywhere. Many dealers discard the MSO for a Vehicle once the title is issued, as they no longer need it. Some states don’t even require an MSO to issue a registration.

Do You Need an MSO When Exporting a Vehicle?

Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to pay the fees for titling and registering a vehicle before exporting it. Fortunately, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a solution for this. If you want to export a vehicle that doesn’t have a title, you can use the MSO as proof of ownership. Just make sure to complete all the required paperwork and have everything ready to expedite the inspection process.

What if my MSO is Missing or Unobtainable?

In rare cases, some people have trouble getting their MSO from the dealership. While it’s not a common occurrence, it’s important to be aware of it. Most new car sales and titling processes go smoothly, so you usually don’t need to worry. However, it’s always good to know potential issues.

There have been instances where obtaining the MSO has been a problem, although it’s rare. If you find yourself needing an MSO but can’t get one, don’t give up. Persistence is key. Remember, you can’t get the document from any other source, and creating a fake one is illegal.

If you didn’t receive the MSO for a Vehicle from the dealer or if you misplaced it, you’ll need to obtain a duplicate to proceed with the registration. The Department of Revenue or the Department of Motor Vehicles may not issue the title without it.

The main thing is to know what to expect when dealing with a dealership. Ask about the necessary documentation for the car upfront and make sure you leave with everything you need. Otherwise, you might encounter difficulties later on.

Conclusion on MSO for a Vehicle

The Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO), also known as the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO), is an important document that acts like a birth certificate for vehicles. It has all the important information about the vehicle, like who made it, the model, and the identification number.

Usually, when you buy a vehicle from a dealership and register it, they take care of the MSO. But sometimes, depending on where you live, you might need to get it yourself. It’s really important to keep the MSO safe because you might need it for future stuff with your vehicle.

It’s also good to know the difference between the MSO, the title, and the registration so you can understand all the paperwork for your vehicle.


  1. American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators- Manufacturer’s Certification of Origin – AAMVA
  2. Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO). FLHSMV
Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

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.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button