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When looking for the perfect trailer, you might run across a private owner with the exact model you’re looking for. You’re ecstatic!
The problem is, the owner doesn’t have the title and has no idea where the title is. Should you purchase the camper anyway? Not without knowing your state’s process and requirements for obtaining a title.
Let’s take a closer look at why this is so important and how to get a title for a trailer without a title.
What Is a Certificate of Title?
A certificate of title is an official, legal document issued by a government agency that identifies the owner of personal or real property. It’s proof of ownership.
Without a title, you can’t prove the property belongs to you. If you have a loan on the property, you won’t have a title. You only receive a certificate of title when you pay off the loan.
Do I Have to Have a Title?
To sell an RV, you must have a title. The new owners will need to transfer the title to themselves to prove their ownership.
If you have a loan, you’ll need to pay off the loan first before the transfer of title can occur. Sometimes buyers won’t work with sellers who don’t have a title in hand because of the hassle of going through the banks to receive it.
The certificate of title is required for most states when registering the vehicle. To get a plate and complete registration, you must have the title.
Working with a dealership can be an easier process because the dealership handles all of the transfer of title procedures. If you’re purchasing or financing a new RV from a dealer, the dealer will get everything for you to be able to register the vehicle with your state.
If you’re applying for a title, you’ll need to take a few documents to your local DMV. These include your driver’s license, bill of sale or certificate of origin from the manufacturer, and the lien status document.
Are Titles Required for Vintage Campers?
In some states, you don’t need titles for campers over a certain age. The DMV might classify it as a collector’s item, or older campers may have never had a title to begin with. If you’re buying a vintage camper, make sure to check with your local DMV about the requirements for your state.
How to Get a Title for a Trailer Without a Title
If you don’t have a title for your trailer, all hope is not lost. You do have some legwork ahead of you, but the DMV should work with you to help you through the process.
Getting a title is crucial so you can legally prove you own your RV. The seller could report the camper as stolen if you don’t have the title, leading you into a legal mess.
Research Paperwork Needed for Your State
Each state has different requirements. Some states require a certificate of inspection, while others require proof of insurance.
Whatever the requirements for how to get a title for a trailer, you need to know them. Research this online. Make sure you go to reputable government websites and not just someone’s blog so you get accurate information.
Keep in Mind: Stop! Before you hit the road, do you need a special Llcense to drive an RV? Click the link to find out!
Go to the DMV
You can also go to the DMV and talk with someone there about the requirements. Once you’ve gathered and filled out all the paperwork, return to the DMV, where you’ll apply for the title. If you travel full-time, you might need to return to your domicile state to complete the process.
Apply for the Title
Title applications will be different in each state. For example, in Massachusetts, you must apply for a title within 10 days of purchase. In Arizona, you must apply for a title within 15 days of purchase.
If you feel confident about your research and paperwork, you can simply print it out online and mail it in. But going into a DMV may ease the process and fears of forgetting something. There are always fees involved, and they vary from state to state.
Get Title in Your Possession
You may have to wait anywhere from two weeks to over a month to receive your title after completing the application process. The DMV is in no hurry to get you the document.
Should there be any errors, there will be delays in the process. This is why it’s good to actually go to a DMV to fill out the paperwork instead of trusting your judgment with a mail-in application.
Once you’ve received the title, put it in a safe place. You’ll need it should you ever decide to sell your camper.
How Do I Register an Untitled Trailer?
First, buying a trailer from a private owner without the title isn’t the best idea. As mentioned before, the previous owner could file it as stolen, and you’d have no proof to show you’re the rightful owner.
Second, it can be expensive if you need a lawyer. Some states have a process to register an untitled trailer, while others don’t. Those that do may require certain legal documents, and a lawyer may need to get involved.
You’ll need a bill of sale or a Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO), which can be difficult to obtain. The best advice is to contact your local DMV before purchasing an untitled trailer to find out what will be required to register that RV.
Keep in Mind: An RV VIN can show you the entire history of a trailer! We’ve put together a short tutorial on RV VINs and how they can help you learn more about an RV’s past.
Get a Lost or Missing Title in No Time
Some states have a much easier process than others for obtaining a lost or missing title. It’s certainly easier to do business with a private owner who has the title in hand or a dealer who can handle all the transfer of ownership paperwork. But sometimes, your dream RV just doesn’t fall into those two categories.
Call your local DMV before making any large purchases to find out how to get a title for a trailer without a title. You want to understand the process first. It’s not impossible, but it could be a lengthy and expensive ordeal.
However, as long as you have the proper paperwork, you should be able to glide through your state’s requirements and receive your title in hand in no time.
Have you ever had to apply for a title before?