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Even though the certificate of title is one of the most important documents, it gets lost fairly frequently. 

If you’ve owned the car for a long time, have moved a time or too, or simply forgot where you last placed it, the title is a document that’s easy to lose track of. 

On this page we’ll go over what to do if you’ve lost your title and how to get a new one. 

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What to Do If You Lost Your Car Title

If you’re planning on selling your car, donating it, or trading it in, you’re going to need the title handy. 

While technically you may be able to sell your car while the title is still missing, you’re going to have a much easier time and get a much better price when you have the title in hand. 

You can learn more about that topic here: Can you sell a car without a title?

So, if you lost your car title you should request a duplicate or replace title through the state DMV that issued it as soon as possible. 

The cost for a replacement title varies by state, but typically ranges from $15 to $25. 

Where to Find your Title

If you can find your title, or you’re looking for the title that was last handled by a previous owner who has died, there may be a handful of places you’ll want to check before you request a replacement. 

First, it’s always a good idea to store your title somewhere that it will be safe, secure, and protected. 

If you believe yourself or the previous owner would have taken this advice, take a look in the places where you may store other important documents such as social security cards, passports, tax returns, birth certificates, bank statements, etc. 

Wherever you keep your important files and documents is typically a smart place to secure your vehicle’s title. 

Next, if you’re the less responsible type, you may find the title inside the vehicle’s glove box along with the registration and insurance documents. This isn’t the safest place to keep the title, but some people do it anyway. 

Now, if you’ve financed your vehicle, you may not actually have the title in your possession at all. Until you’ve paid off the loan, your title will be held by the lienholder in most states. 

Once you pay off the car, the lienholder will then send you a signed lien release along with the title, which you can submit to the DMV to get the lien removed.

If you still can’t find the title, you’ll need to request a replacement through your state Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent agency. 

Where to get a copy of my car title?

Vehicle titles are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the agency that handles vehicle registrations and license plates in each state. 

Depending on the state that issued your title, you may have the option of requesting a duplicate:

  • In person at a DMV office. 
  • By mail. 
  • Online. 
  • Through an authorized third-party service provider. 

How to Get a Copy of a Car Title

Requesting a new title for one you’ve lost is a simple process. 

Here’s the information you should be prepared to provide:

Next, go online to your state’s official DMV website or complete a Duplicate Title Application. 

You’ll need to pay a duplicate title fee that typically ranges from $15 to $25 or more depending on the state. 

After you’ve submitted the request, your new title should arrive within a few weeks (if your state issues paper titles) and the previous title will be voided.