Updated at: 17-08-2021 - By: micdot

There are many different types of car titles in the world. We will examine the various types of car titles and what they mean, as well as how to obtain one.

This article will go over what they are and how to get them.

What is a Car Title

A car title is a document that certifies the ownership of a vehicle.

Car titles are issued by various government agencies, depending on where you live. They’re usually called something like “Certificate of Title” or “Vehicle Registration Certificate”.

In some places, it’s possible to register your car without having a title; for example, if you’ve bought it at an auction and don’t have time to get one before registration ends. 

It’s also possible for you not to need a certificate of title when you buy a used car or transfer ownership between family members (usually parents giving cars they own outright to their children).

Types of Car Titles

Here are some different types of car titles.

Non-owner Title

Non-owner Title

If you buy a car from someone else, they’re supposed to sign the title over to you and give you the original. The problem is that many used-car buyers don’t realize this or forget, resulting in “title problems” after they’ve already registered their cars. 

This allows you to transfer the ownership of a car without the seller being involved.

Clear Title

A “clear title” is a regular title that shows there are no liens on the car or other problems. Clear titles are also called “perfect” titles.

Salvage Title

If your car has been badly damaged, you can sometimes get a salvage title instead of a clear title. This doesn’t mean your car is worthless – it can still be repaired and sold to used car buyers.

Brand new cars may sometimes have a salvage title when they’re built by manufacturers, because of minor damage during assembly (for example, if an interior part is damaged after being installed).

If your car is seriously damaged but still drivable, you can usually get a “salvage title”. Salvage titles can only be issued by government agencies for vehicles that are more than 2000 pounds.

Insurance companies usually make owners get salvage titles when their cars are declared a total loss by an insurance company.

Rebuilt Title

If your car has been badly damaged but repaired, it may have a rebuilt title.

This is like a salvage title except the car itself isn’t considered worthless; people can still buy and sell these cars as used cars.

Used Car Titles

A “used car title” is a regular title that shows you’re buying from someone else.

When a person sells their own car to another individual; it may also be useful when selling cars at auction or arranging other types of transactions involving multiple owners.

Flood-damaged Title

A flood-damaged title means that the car has been damaged by flooding. This is usually due to a hurricane, tsunami, or other natural disaster.

If your car is flood-damaged but drivable, you may be able to get a “flood damaged title”. This is usually only possible in states where more than 20% of the vehicles are flood-damaged.

Flood damaged cars cannot be sold legally without a flood damaged title – they can be sold as “parts” or given away, but not resold for use on public roads.

Failed Inspection Title

If your car fails the vehicle inspection, and you’re in a state that requires emissions tests or regular safety inspections, you can usually get a “failed inspection title”.

This allows you to register your car or sell it without using the inspection.

Never-Registered Title

If you buy a car that’s never been registered, the title may not show this (or it may only be noted on paper). You’ll need to change the title so it notes this fact.

This is called a “never-registered” title or sometimes “non-operation”.

Lemon Title

Lemon Title

A “lemon title” is a regular title that shows the car was bought by someone else and traded back to a car company.

Rejected title

A “rejection” is when a state rejects a car’s title because of liens or other problems.

If your registration is rejected, you may need to have the title fixed before you can register it. You’ll also need to pay any outstanding fees related to this.

Bonded Title 

A “bonded title” is used when you get a car that’s owned by a federal, state, or local government.

If your state issues these types of cars with regular titles, they may use bonded titles instead. 

Transporter Title

A “transporter title” is used when a car seller sends the vehicle to someone else for them to sell, then after it’s sold, they send the title to the person that bought it.

A transporter may be known as an “auto transport company”.

Junk or Dismantle Title 

A “junk title” is given to a car when it’s considered junk and cannot be used on public roads.

When the car was abandoned after being stolen, and it has been sitting for more than seven days, you can usually get a “Dismantled Title”. An insurance company often issues junk and dismantle titles to salvaged cars.

A “junk” or “dismantle title” means your car doesn’t run, and isn’t worth fixing.

You can usually get either of these titles if the vehicle cannot pass emissions tests or safety inspections.

The benefits and disadvantages of a car title

The benefits and disadvantages of a car title


A car title can be used to prove you own the car, so long as you have proof of your name and address.

If you have one of a car title, a driver’s license or photo ID, this may work for some situations (such as renting an apartment).


A car title does not prove you’re the insured driver of the vehicle.

If you get in an accident, the insurance company may not accept your title as proof of ownership or verify that you’re the insured driver.


A car title gives you proof of ownership and lets you register a vehicle (in most states). A regular car title shows that there are no liens or other problems with the vehicle.

How to Apply for a Car Title

There are a lot of steps to applying for and receiving a car title, depending on the country you live in.

Most countries require an assigned identification number or license plate number to be displayed on the title.

Others may not use titles at all – if you’re buying a used car that’s been in the state for more than 30 days, you may not need a title to register it.

If you’re buying from a dealer or private party, they can usually handle this paperwork for you. If you buy from the government (such as a police auction), you’ll have to do this yourself.

You’ll also need to pay any sales tax on the vehicle unless you can prove you bought it out of state.

When to Apply for a Car Title

You usually need to apply for a new car title within 30 days if the vehicle is used, and within three months if it’s brand new or you bought it from an auction.  If you buy the vehicle outside of your state, this may change.

If you buy a vehicle from a dealer or private party, they’ll usually handle the paperwork for you. You’ll need to apply in person if buying from the government.

Title problems

Title problems

If there’s a problem with your title, it may be because:

The vehicle identification number (VIN) on the title was damaged or unreadable.

The seller failed to sign off their interest in the vehicle.

You did not submit the title to the state when you bought it (you only need to do this with a new car)

In all states, you’re allowed to give your vehicle to someone as a gift. In most cases, this means that they have full rights over the vehicle and will be able to sell it or register it in their name. However, a few states do require that the title be transferred to the new owner before giving it away.

5 Important Tips About Car Titles

– You can always buy a car with no title; just know that many lenders will have trouble financing the car without one (and you may have trouble getting an insurance policy).

– If you buy a car from someone who lives in another state, it’s possible that they’ll give you a title from their state rather than the one where your are. At this point, it’s important to get the title transferred into your name; it’s easier and quicker than it used to be, but still can take some time.

– It’s important to know how much your car is worth before you apply for a new title on a used vehicle. If you put more on the title than what your car is worth (called over-titling), it may prevent you from selling your car in the future.

– If someone else owns your car but you want to get a title for it, you have at least two options: You can either pay them back and then apply for the title completely free of charge, or you can request that they take over as a co-signer on the new title. This costs money and can be confusing, but it’s doable.

– You’re allowed to have more than one vehicle title at a time, but we don’t recommend doing so unless you plan on keeping your car for several years and can afford paying six months or more of registration fees up front.


Is there a fee to transfer car titles?

This will depend on your vehicle, but most states do charge. There may also be additional fees for things like dealer handling (if the seller is a private party) and sales tax.

How long does it take to transfer a car title?

This will also depend on your state, but you can expect at least two weeks and often much longer (the record is 14 months for one state, including the time before the seller actually sold the vehicle). If you’re buying or selling across state lines, this process may take a few months.

What should I do to get a title for my used car?

If you bought it from sales tax, they will handle this for you; if not, you’ll have to fill out an application and send in your title. You can apply online or in person; however, some states require that you do this in person.

What happens if my car title gets lost?

You’ll need to apply for a duplicate title in all states, which involves more fees and paperwork than the standard transfer of ownership.  However, you may be able to sign an affidavit declaring that the title has been lost and keep your license plates; this will allow you to get into a vehicle without proof of ownership.

What happens if I don’t have a title for my car?

If you didn’t buy it from the previous owner, they should have given you some sort of proof of ownership (such as registration).  If not, you’ll need to apply for a DMV duplicate title and pay all associated fees.  It’s always best to check with your DMV for more information.

What happens if I’m buying a car and don’t have proof of ownership?

You’ll need to get the seller to produce this and can then transfer it into your name (although you may also want to run a VIN check on their vehicle). As long as you’re buying a car that’s less than 10 years old, you should be able to get into your vehicle without proof of ownership.

How do I know if my car has a clean title?

A good way to tell is to check online, which is how you’ll be able to find out your car’s history (as well as its VIN) before you submit any paperwork. It will also save you time and money; getting a car titled may not be as much of a hassle as you might think.

What happens if my car has a salvage title?

Your vehicle will be worth less, and it may also keep you from being able to register in some states. You’ll also have to pay more money for insurance and regular maintenance work, as well as extra fees when selling the vehicle.


Car titles are important when it comes to buying and selling a car, especially if you’re looking for additional information like the vehicle’s history. There will also be fees associated with transferring title ownership on your used vehicle, so make sure that you understand all of these costs before making a purchase or sale.

Hope this article is ready to provide more insight into how titles work and their importance.