What should I do if I buy a car without a title in Pennsylvania?
If you bought a car or received it as a gift in Pennsylvania, and the owner never handed you the title, start by contacting them and asking if they can give it to you. If they say they don’t have it or you can’t get in contact with them, you may need to apply for a replacement title with your local DMV.
The process of applying for a lost, stolen, or missing title is a bit more complicated than obtaining an original title from the previous owner. But, in many states, the process is straightforward. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to buy, insure, or sell a car without a title in many states. Getting a car title in your state is an essential first step in taking ownership of your vehicle.
Note: This page covers the titling process for states like PA that don’t require bonded titles. If your state does require a bonded title for your situation, check out our guide: “Title Bonds for Lost or Stolen Vehicle Titles.”
Get a Title Bond in Your State:
- Getting a car title in your state is an essential first step in taking ownership of your vehicle.
- If the previous owner didn’t have the original title, they might have lost or destroyed it, stolen the vehicle, or participated in something called “title jumping.”
- Follow the general process outlined below if you can’t get the original title or a duplicate title from the previous owner issued in your name.
Why is your PA title missing?
If the previous owner didn’t have the original title, they might have lost or destroyed it, stolen the vehicle, or participated in something called “title jumping.”
Title jumping is illegal in every state, but some individuals and car dealers still sell cars without following the proper title process (registering the vehicle in their name) to save money and avoid paying taxes. This can make it impossible to track down the original title and use it to register the car in your name.
How to Apply for a Lost or Duplicate PA Title
Follow this general process if you can’t get the original title or a duplicate title from the previous owner issued in your name. Note that the process may vary based on your state’s specific requirements, so be sure to follow the instructions listed on your state application carefully.
1. Contact your local DMV.
First, contact your DMV and tell them you’d like to apply for a PA car title, explaining why you don’t have the original title. Follow their process to register your car and get a new title.
2. Complete the PA application for a certificate of title.
For Pennsylvania, you’ll fill out the Application for Duplicate Certificate of Title. Pay applicable fees, and provide any information your DMV requires, such as a valid ID, proof of insurance, and a bill of sale for your vehicle.
3. Submit the application.
Once your application is approved, you should receive your PA title in the mail. Keep in mind that if there’s a lien on your vehicle, you may need to send a certified letter to the lienholder asking them to release the lien before your application is approved.
If someone doesn’t receive a physical, valid certificate of title when they buy their car, they may need a bonded version of a car title – if their state requires it. The original title for the vehicle could have been lost or stolen, or the seller may have intentionally sold the car without it. A bonded title is a car title with a surety bond (called a title bond) attached.
The bond protects previous and future owners and other parties that may have financial interests in the vehicle. If an individual is not the rightful owner, other parties may suffer financially. If they do, they can file a claim against the surety bond to receive compensation for their losses.
While many states require vehicle owners to purchase a surety bond as part of the titling process, some don’t, such as Pennsylvania.
Contact your local DMV to determine your eligibility. Many states don’t allow for bonded titles. Others, like Indiana and Ohio, only allow for court-ordered titles. If your state is on the following list, you won’t need a surety bond to acquire a title for your vehicle. Instead, you’ll fill out either a duplicate title form or an application for title and registration.
If your state is not on this list, check out our Certificate of Title Bonds page.
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Find the Surety Bond You Need
If you’re looking for a surety bond, the experts at ZipBonds would love to help. Connect with one of our team members by calling 888-435-4191 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also search for your bond by category. We offer License & Permit, Contract/Construction, Court & Probate, and Miscellaneous Commercial Bonds.
Founders Ryan Swalve and Zach Mefferd formed the vision for ZipBonds.com when they realized how overly complicated it was to help clients place surety. The frustration of being unable to incorporate the technology they’d used in other insurance-focused projects left them thinking “there has to be a better way.”
Fast forward a couple of years, and that better way is the impetus of everything we do at ZipBonds. We constantly look for innovative ways to improve the bonding process for our clients and agents. Our team comprises individuals who understand all angles of surety – for companies, agencies, and individuals. Incorporating everyone’s point of view to improve the process while simultaneously integrating cutting-edge technology is what sets our business apart.