When you’re in the market for a new car, you have a lot to think about. What kind of vehicle do you want? Do you need an auto loan? Are there any reasonable car insurance rates? Should you even buy, or should you just lease?
All of these questions can easily run through your mind, and you need to have an answer for all of them. However, if you decide to buy a vehicle, you have to get a car title and registration, which could lead to another pressing question: what’s the difference between them?
It’s easy to mistake these documents as one and the same. But honestly, a car title is entirely different from vehicle registration. You can’t get one of these documents and assume it’ll act as a representative for the other.
You need to get both of them, which means you need to understand the differences between a car title and vehicle registration.
What is a car title?
Also called a Certificate of Title, a car title shows proof of ownership for various motor vehicles, including a car, truck, motorboat, motorcycle, utility trailer, travel trailer, or mobile home.
Without a car title, you can’t prove to anyone that you legally own your motor vehicle. It’s the only piece of paper standing between you and someone else possibly thinking that you stole your car. So, it’s really important to have.
Once you get your car title, you may notice that it includes a few details. This document will provide information on your motor vehicle like its make, model, year, and whether someone has totaled it or deemed it a complete loss after a theft or accident.
Another critical piece of information that you’ll notice is any lienholders that you used. If you borrowed money from an auto dealer or bank to purchase your vehicle, that entity is going to be on your car title.
How do you get a car title?
So, you know how important it is to have a car title, but how do you actually get one. The answer to this question depends on the situation. Specifically, here are three different scenarios in which you will need to get a car title.
1. Buying a used vehicle
If you’re buying a used vehicle, you’ll need the current owner to transfer the title to you. How this transfer happens will depend on how old the vehicle is.
For example, maybe you buy a vehicle with the model year of 1973 or newer. In this situation, you need the current owner to put your name on the transfer section of the car title. Depending on the state you live in, you may have to get the title notarized and have the original owner sign a vehicle bill of sale.
For vehicles that are ten years old or newer than the year of transfer, you’ll follow the same process. However, you may also need to get a damage disclosure statement and an odometer disclosure statement signed.
And for vehicles from 1973 or later, all you have to do is have the owner sign the transferable registration and a bill of sale.
2. Paying off your auto loan
When you’ve finished paying off your auto loan, it can feel like a relief. It’s one less bill that you have to pay! What’s even better is that you finally get full ownership of your vehicle, which means you get to have the car title in your possession.
For this to happen, all you have to do is remove the lien on the car title. Transportation agencies such as Barry Risk Management, Inc. can help you with this, and their representatives will ensure the title is transferred to you once the lienholder is off.
3. Lost, stolen, or damaged title
Sometimes, a car title can get lost, stolen, or damaged. The best way to prevent this is to keep your car title somewhere secure (and no, your car doesn’t count). It would help if you kept it in a safe with a lock so that no one can steal or damage it.
But if one of those things happens, you’ll need to go to a transportation agency like Barry Risk Management, Inc. to get a new car title. The process won’t take long. You’ll just have to provide some information online, and then you’ll get your new title in no time.
What is vehicle registration?
The next important document that you need to get is vehicle registration. Unlike a car title, which shows proof of ownership, registration proves that you’ve registered your vehicle with the state and have paid all of the relevant fees and taxes.
This document is essential because it allows you to drive on public roads. Without vehicle registration, your motor vehicle is not known to the state, which could lead to a fine or even jail time. So, regardless of whether you’re leasing or buying a vehicle, you need to get it registered with the state.
When you take this action, you’ll usually get a license plate and a registration document or sticker to put on your windshield. Regardless of the one that you receive, both will provide proof that you’ve registered your vehicle.
However, just because you’ve registered your vehicle once doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do it again. Typically, every 1-2 years, you’ll need to renew your registration. But it’s essential to check the exact time frame because every state is different.
Additionally, if you decide to move across state lines, you’ll want to register your vehicle with your new state. Most places require you to update your registration and license plate soon after you become a resident.
How do you register a vehicle?
Registering your vehicle is not as straightforward as getting a car title. Because every state has its own laws, the process for registering a car can vary.
However, there are some common steps in the process that you may notice. For example, you typically need to insure your vehicle before you register it. Not every state is like this, but most of them are.
Similarly, most states require the following information for you to register your vehicle:
- Insurance card
- Driver’s license
- Car title
- Application for vehicle registration
- Statement of transaction
- Proof of payment for fees and taxes
- The bill of sale
Once you gather those documents, usually, your last step is to fill out a registration form. Transportation agencies like Barry Risk Management, Inc. can provide this form and any other paperwork that you need to fill out. And if your state has unique requirements for registration, Barry Risk Management, Inc. can explain those and help you navigate them so that you successfully register your vehicle with your state.
For help on registering your vehicle or getting a car title, contact a representative with Barry Risk Management, Inc!