Riding through public roads on second-hand, vintage beasts is quite an experience, except for one problem: the seller just disclosed to you that this bike has no title at all!
Everyone knows that operating motorcycles with no titles leads to many legal problems; with no titles, there is no way you can show your proof of ownership or get insurance and license plates.
Hence, learning how to get a title for a motorcycle is more important than ever. We are glad to lend a helping hand, diving into all relevant tips and guidance to seize a legal title. Keep scrolling!
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How Can You Get A Motorbike Title
Before proceeding, gather every ownership document that you can get your hands on. From here, there are several possible scenarios:
1. You Already Have The Previous Title
The fastest way to carry out the vehicle title transfer process is to have the previous legal owner hand over the old title for you. So at the buying time, ensure you have already requested the seller to sign the title certificate before giving him the purchase price/money.
Plus, check whether that person is actually a registered vehicle owner or not by asking for their photo IDs and comparing them to the names next to the title.
Once all these processes are settled, take this title and the state applications to a DMV office. Do not forget to prepare the registration fees (which vary depending on different regions) to own this motorbike under your name officially!
2. You Have No Prior Title
Now that there is no prior title, the situation becomes much trickier. It’s time to get the lost title for a motorcycle, but the good news is you can register a motorcycle without a title.
All hopes are not lost! If all attempts to claim the previous titles fail you, here are alternative options to register a motorcycle in this case, ensuring you still receive the long-awaited label for your motorbike:
a. Bonded Titles
Obtaining bonded titles are possible if the vehicle has limited documentation and zero titles. The process demands you buy surety bonds for the motorbike (often below $100 only).
Why? These bonds will enable protections for the vehicle’s lenders, particularly when someone else tries to prove ownership or invalidate the bond titles.
Once a bonded title has already been seized, you may register the motorcycle at a local DMV office. Of course, do not forget to double-check the laws in your current state; not every state accepts bonded titles. For example, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, or Kentucky says no to this kind of title.
b. Vermont Loopholes
Vermont loopholes have been adopted for decades to help owners gain titles for motor vehicles 15+ years old.
More specifically, Vermont falls under the category of “non-titling jurisdictions,” meaning vehicle titles might not get produced over one particular year. The loopholes guarantee that anyone with old-age vehicles (even if they do not live in Vermont) can adopt this strategy if they own a motorcycle bill of sale no title.
So when you register your 15-year-old vehicle at a Vermont office, this registration is already a local version of motorbike titles for every vehicle that age. The only thing left to do is to transfer that registration into a motorcycle title when you return to your hometown state.
c. Court Order Titles
If the two methods fail, you can always seek help from county courts. Sure, this method might require some extra steps, but they do not take as much time from you as you might have thought.
Once the judge’s court order declares that you are the official owner of a motorbike, the law will require the DMV in your state to issue a title to your new vehicle. Nevertheless, remember that this strategy should also be considered the last resort, as judges will require you to try other solutions first before turning to their support.
3. Special Cases
a. Stolen Motorcycles
The answer is quite obvious; there’s no solution to get a lost title for a motorcycle in this case without getting arrested for possessing stolen property.
Fortunately, VIN checks can help identify whether the second-hand motorbike you want to buy is stolen – and at a very low price.
We strongly suggest you adopt them – since it’s impossible to check all the history records behind the bike. Added evidence from VIN will allow you to make more appropriate decisions.
b. Unknown Lien Conditions
Aside from theft, we also cannot rule out the possibilities that the seller may fake or produce false titles to hide existing liens. Worse, they might even hide the entire title altogether, lying to you that they have lost it and successfully avoiding liens as a result.
Again, you can turn to VIN checks to avoid such catastrophes. Sure, VIN cannot be a cure-all for all title issues; nevertheless, it’s a critical element for a successful title process.
That’s why, before you decide on anything, ensure the VIN detects no significant issues that might hold you from obtaining clean titles for the motorbikes.
c. Barn Finds
For certain states, motorcycle titling did not occur until several decades ago, meaning there might be some vehicles floating around the town with no title attached to them.
People refer to these vehicle types as “barn finds,” sitting for long periods without clear information about the owner. That makes sense – since the bike got produced long before the states even issued titles.
If you encounter such situations, we suggest you order VIN inspections. Does nothing suspicious pop up? Then feel free to purchase the bike. DMV offices will recognize its lack of title and ask you to issue one after the sale bills are presented.
What Are Tips for Buying A Motorcycle Without A Title?
1. Do A Quick VIN Check
You can confirm whether the bike is submitted for theft reports by running VIN checks or contacting law enforcement in your state. Does something fishy come up? Retreat immediately!
2. Get Bills of Sale
Sale bills are critical in any selling/buying process, taking charge of:
- Recording sellers’ and buyers’ addresses and names
- Documenting the entire transaction
No ownership chains can formulate without it, so ensure you get one.
3. Gather Seller Documentation
With a missing title, it would help to collect other ownership documents the seller might help, which include:
- Old registration paper
- MCOs receipts (from original dealerships)
- Previous sale bills
4. Go To The DMV Office
Choose an office near your neighborhood and do the rest of the following:
- Pay title fees (varying depending on states)
- Complete an application form of lost titles and indicate your personal details and residence
- After that, the authorities will directly send the title by mail to your physical addresses mentioned in the title documents.
Extra: Other Things You Should Pay Attention To
We know that you have already performed VIN checks, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Pay attention to other things that VIN might overlook, such as:
- Does the owner have no in-hand title?
- Is the bike suffering from damage signals (like broken ignition locks or missing parts – a common indicator of stolen bikes)?
If yes, decline the sales and escape from that mess right away.
Some Other Title Problems to Look for When Buying Old Motorcycles
In these cases, the title does not hold the seller’s name. They just act as an intermediary that sells the bike for another person. Worse, the sellers might intend to flip the bike.
Several states obliterate VINs for Self-Assembled/SPCN/Special Construction titles. Check the bike you want to buy: is there no legit number? Has it been removed?
If yes, chances are they are stolen properties. We cannot be sure 100%, but you should tread more carefully.
Do your research on the motorbike model: where are the numbers imprinted? The engine, the frame, or both?
Then compare what you have researched to the actual bike you are contemplating buying. If it’s incorrectly titled (ex: to the engine instead of the frame), troubles might be lurking!
Our insightful article has delivered great tidbits on what you should pay attention to when titling your motorbikes or buying no-title highway vehicles. Keep them in mind, and feel free to contact us if there is any confusion about the motorcycle registration processes.