Need proof that you own a car? Then, you should be looking for the car’s title deeds. Ideally, the car owner must have it in their possession; however, if you have misplaced it or did not know about the document, here’s how to find your car title number.
The title number of a car is a 7-8 number or character string used to identify its current owner. You can easily find it on your car’s title or registration documents. Suppose you do not have these documents: Can you find the title number of your car online? How to get a copy of your car’s title? Keep reading for the answers:
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What is a car title?
A vehicle title is a legal document that serves as proof of ownership. The title is issued by the state and signed over by the previous owner – it could be a third-party seller or the dealership.
When a car is sold, the selling and buying parties declare the vehicle’s change of ownership. The new owner then submits it to their respective DMV for registration purposes. Once you legally register the car, the DMV issues a new title and stores a copy of this document in their database. If you have fully financed the car, you can keep your car’s title document, or the finance company will keep it until the vehicle you pay off the loan.
Apart from the title number, the title of a car lists the vehicle’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), make and model, license plate number, and other vital details that help identify the vehicle and its owner.
More: Quick Guide to Remove a Name From a Car Title
What are the different types of vehicle titles?
There are five types of titles for vehicles: Clean, Clear, Salvage, Lemon, and Rebuilt.
If you are buying a car, it’s best to stay clear of those listed as ‘Salvage’ or ‘Lemon’ in the title. While ‘Salvage’ indicates the insurance company totaled the car, ‘Lemon’ indicates manufacturing defects compromising safety and value. Be careful with ‘Rebuilt’ on the car title too – persisting issues are highly probable even after an overhaul.
Clean and Clear are the most common titles you’ll come across when looking for a reliable car. ‘Clean’ guarantees that the car was never declared a total loss. A car with no liens will have a ‘Clear’ title.
Why do you need the title of a car?
The title number of a car only tells you who its current owner is – but you’ll need this number when registering the car at the DMV for a new title or getting a lien on your car. It comes in handy whenever you need to prove the ownership of the vehicle. The title number is usually enough for paperwork, even if you do not have the original title document.
More: Can You Buy a Car Without a Title?
Is a title number the same as VIN?
No, the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) can tell you more about the car than its title number. The title number of a car only tells you who owns it legally. Meanwhile, the 17-character string VIN gives access to the vehicle’s specs like make, model, manufacturing date, trim, etc. Unlike the car title number, the VIN shows the vehicle’s history, not its owner’s.
The VIN of a car remains the same no matter how many times it is resold and the ownership changes. It is a felony to change the VIN improperly. You can also find the VIN in more places than the title number. Apart from the registration documents, you may find VIN on the car’s dashboard, frame, door jambs, and even under spare parts.
More: All You Need To Know About VIN Etching
How to find my car title number?
The title number of the car is mentioned right above the VIN on its title; you should ideally have at least a copy of this document with you. But it’s okay if you don’t – the registration papers must always be in the car. In most states, the car’s title number is usually mentioned on the vehicle registration card, next to its make and model.
Don’t have access to the vehicle registration card? Check if you have a registration renewal notice from the DMV. You’ll find the title number in the renewal paperwork.
Where can I find my car title number without my registration?
Chances are you have come so far because none of the above is an option to find the car’s title number. So, the next step is a DMV title number lookup – directly at the office, via phone, or online.
Yes, your DMV will have a copy of your car title and other information about you and your vehicle on record. You can call the DMV and request your title number; make sure to apply for a duplicate title. If you do not have the registration, order a replacement.
Depending on your state’s rules, you may also initiate the request via online portals – such as this for North Carolina. You’ll have to enter details like your license plate number or a part of your social security number. If you can find such resources on your state’s website, visit the local DMV office. Some states do not share sensitive information over the phone or online.
If you have a lien on your car, calling your lienholder is a better option – you’ll probably get the title number quicker than at the DMV.
More: Does your car title need to be notarized?
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