I Lost My Car Title: What to Do Now | Capital One Auto Navigator (2024)

If a lost car title is in your name, it may be easier than expected to replace.

By Steven Lang

Aug 10, 2023

I Lost My Car Title: What to Do Now | Capital One Auto Navigator (2)Shutterstock

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Losing a car title can be scary, but you don't have to panic. You might worry that your title is gone forever or that someone can steal it and use it for criminal purposes.

The reality often is not that dire. Generally speaking, you can get a replacement vehicle title that gives you all the ownership rights of the original document.

Fill out a replacement title application

Your state may have a title application form available online that you can submit at your local title office or by mail. Go online to a search engine and type "replacement title application" plus the name of your state in the search bar to help find the specific form you need. Do be sure that the website you use is an official government resource (often indicated by a ".gov" web address suffix), as an internet search could call up nonofficial sites as well.

You might discover that submitting a title application form in person is not necessary. Some states, including New York and California, now allow you to apply for a replacement title entirely online, a process that can take mere minutes.

Have your registration and insurance information handy

The motor vehicle department could request specific information about your automobile, such as the vehicle identification number and the make, model, and year.

If you don't have all the information, you can bring your insurance, registration, and driver's license (or state ID) to the nearest government office that handles title processing. They will likely have a title application form.

What if you moved recently and lost your car title?

Small pieces of paper, such as car titles, can be lost or left behind when you move. Even if you have moved out of state, arrange for mail forwarding with the United States Postal Service (USPS) before applying for your replacement title.

The USPS provides standard mail forwarding for up to 12 months, a service you can pay to extend for up to 18 additional months. So even if you don't immediately realize you lost the title, you still can have the replacement document mailed to your original address.

Your replacement title will often be labeled with "duplicate title" or "duplicate," since the original becomes void once a replacement is printed.

Contact your local vehicle title issuing office for instructions on how to dispose of the original title, should you find it later.

What if I had a lien?

When you take out a loan to purchase a car, the vehicle's title has a lien on it, meaning the lender owns the title (and technically the car) until you've repaid them. If the lienholder didn't apply for a lien release, you should contact them directly and request one. Once the lien is released, you can file a title-replacement application.

Keep in mind that you might never have had the title. In the case of liens, titles are usually mailed to the lienholder and only sent once the loan is paid off.

Contact the lienholder if you had an auto loan and don't recall receiving a physical title. The company should have the title on file. If your loan is paid off, ask them to send the clear title to your current address.

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This site is for educational purposes only. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their opinions, products and services. Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The information presented in this article is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change. The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circ*mstances. For specific advice about your unique circ*mstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

Steven Lang

Steven Lang is a special contributor to Capital One with nearly two decades of experience as an auto auctioneer, car dealer, and part owner of an auto auction. Some of the best-known auto publications turn to him for his expert insight. He is also the co-developer of the Long-Term Quality Index, a survey of vehicle reliability featuring over two million vehicles that have been inspected by professional mechanics.

I Lost My Car Title: What to Do Now | Capital One Auto Navigator (2024)
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