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Buying and selling used cars can be a fun way to experience many different types of vehicles while also making some money if you’re good at it. However, this only is fun if you have titles. Finding a lost or stolen title can be nearly impossible. And every state has its own requirements for replacing lost car titles. Here are some helpful tips for replacing a lost or stolen car title. 

People waiting in line at the DMV. Make sure you research how to replace a lost car title before waiting in line.
People wait in line to enter a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What is a car title? 

Even in our highly digital world, car titles still exist via physical sheets of state-sanctioned paper. If some of us have forgotten what paper is, it is basically a computer screen that came to life and can be easily lost, destroyed, or stolen. Hence the need for replacement titles. 

Your car’s title is the official proof of ownership for your car. If you want to buy, sell, or trade a vehicle, you’ll need this sheet of paper. 

The tricky part for Americans is, every state has different rules for getting a car titled, getting a replacement title, and some states even vary on if you always need one (looking at you, Alabama). Besides some strange loopholes and general sketchy behavior, basically, every road-legal vehicle needs a title.

How do you replace a lost car title? 

Like we said earlier, every state has its own way of replacing car titles. For instance, in New York, and probably some other states as well,  you have to start by finding some way to prove you own the vehicle. This can usually be done with a signed bill of sale or receipt from a dealer. You must also have a current address on file with the DMV. 

While that may not seem like much, but the application can only be filed if the vehicle in question is already registered and titled in New York. The process could be far more complicated if the car were never registered to you or anyone else in New York State. In efforts to keep fraud down, nothing on your DMV file can be changed if you request a replacement car title. The DMV will mail the title application to the address currently on file at the DMV. So be prepared and keep all your ducks in a row before beginning this process. 

Once all these other steps have been taken, the DMV mails the application to you. Pro tip: request express mail because this process can take a while, so you might as well speed up the parts you can. 

Once you request the forms at your DMV website or in person, you must complete the document, include official proof of identity (i.e., NY State Driver License, Learner Permit, or Non-Driver ID), and a personal check or money order for $20. 

Which state is easiest to get a car titled in? 

close up of a California DMV sign
Signage at the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) | David McNew/Getty Images

Avoid Salvage Title Cars Like the Plague

This is an ever-changing answer that can get quite frustrating. In general, most states are simply trying to make sure you are trying to get a legit title for a stolen or otherwise illegal vehicle. Hence, most states tend to attempt to verify the applicant, see if the vehicle is stolen and that the person filing for the title is indeed the person who owns the car.

In some states, like Alabama, cars of a certain age may not have to have a title to get them registered. In many other states, the DMV will not register and tag a vehicle if it doesn’t have a clean title. 

As provided by Autoblog, here is a list of what each state requires to replace a lost car title. You’ll find that many states mostly require the same handful of items. Some states charge a few bucks for this replacement, like Georgia’s $8 fee, while others like NY can go up to $20, in some cases even more. Regardless, no states are prohibitively expensive, except maybe Oregon. 

As with all DMV endeavors, it always pays to research, prepare, and get your game face on before attempting anything in these, the most frustrating of municipal adventures. But the DMV isn’t a mystery; it’s just annoying. Give them what they ask for, and things should go pretty smoothly—best of luck out there. 

How much it cost to replace a lost title in each state?

Alabama: $15

Alaska: $15

Arizona: $4

Arkansas: $10

California: $20

Colorado: $8.20

Connecticut: $25

Delaware: $50

Florida: $11

Georgia: $8

Hawaii: $5

Idaho: $14

Illinois: $50

Indiana: $15

Iowa: $25.

Kansas: $15

Kentucky: $6

Louisiana: $12

Maine: $46

Maryland: $20

Massachusetts: $25

Michigan: $15

Minnesota: $7.25

Mississippi: $10

Missouri: $14.50

Montana: $10.30

Nebraska: $14

Nevada: $20

New Hampshire: $25

New Jersey: $60

New Mexico: $5

New York: $20

North Carolina: $21.50

North Dakota: $5

Ohio: $15

Oklahoma: $12.55

Oregon: $93 ( I think we have a winner)

Pennsylvania: $53

Rhode Island: $51.50

South Carolina: $15

South Dakota: $10

Tennessee: $11

Texas: $5.45

Utah: $6

Vermont: $33

Virginia: $15

Washington: $31

West Virginia: $15

Wisconsin: $20

Wyoming: $15