How to Replace a Car Title in California

If a resident in California has a lost car title, it is important to find the title or request a replacement as soon as possible. A lost California car title is an issue for car owners because the car title proves the vehicle belongs to the owner and must be used when the vehicle is sold to another party. Car title replacement in CA should be requested when the title cannot be found by the car owner so he or she has a way of proving vehicle ownership at any time, if needed. To replace car title documentation, the car owner must make a request to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A duplicate car title must be requested if the original has been misplaced so the car owner can transfer ownership in the event of a sale. After losing a title, the car owner must replace lost car title in California before he or she can complete a transaction to donate the vehicle to charity or give it to a family member. To learn more about when replacing car title should be requested, how the request can be made and how the duplicate car title will be received, review the following sections.

When to Replace a Car Title in CA

A car owner should request a car title copy in California when the current car title:

  • Was lost or misplaced.
  • Has been mutilated or damaged.
  • Is now faded or illegible.
  • Was never received when the vehicle was purchased or the lien satisfied.

If a car owner suspects a stolen car title, he or she should report it immediately to the DMV to prevent any erroneous claims of vehicle ownership by the potential thief. Replacement of a car title should only be ordered by a car owner if he or she truly needs a new copy, since only one copy of the car title should be in a vehicle owner’s possession. Before assuming a car title has been lost, the car owner should check with the lienholder to ensure it is not electronically filed and has not been released yet. To learn about additional potential reasons a car owner may need to consider replacing car title, download our informative guide.

How to Request California Duplicate Car Title for Replacement

To replace a lost car title in California, a car owner must first apply to receive the duplicate title. An application for a duplicate CA title should be completed to initiate the request for title replacement. When filling out the application to receive a duplicate car title, the requestor must give information about the vehicle, the registered owner and the lienholder or financial institution, if applicable. Before awarding a replacement of the car title, the DMV uses this information to identify the requestor to ensure he or she has interest in the vehicle. If the owner’s current mailing address does not match the one on file with the vehicle registration and the DMV, the car title duplicate requestor must bring the application into a DMV office in person to complete the process. His or her address and identity must first be verified and may need to be changed with the DMV before the request can be processed. For applicants who simply need a duplicate car title, the first three sections of the application must be completed and the other sections may be skipped. When the application is complete, the CA car title copy requestor can mail it to a local DMV office or visit the office to submit the form in person.

When attempting to replace car title in CA, an applicant who decides to turn the form in to the local office may make an appointment with the DMV office to submit the application in person. All vehicle title copy requestors should keep in mind that the appropriate fees requested by the DMV must be paid before the application is processed. Additionally, if a California car title has been damaged or faded, it must be attached and surrendered when sending in or submitting a form in person. To find out more about requesting a car title replacement in California and completing the application correctly, download our comprehensive online guide.

Receiving Replacement for a Lost Car Title in CA

If a car owner who has lost a California car title requests a duplicate by mailing in the application, he or she should note the potential delay with mailing in the form. In-person car title copy requestors may be required to confirm their identities by showing their California driver’s license or identification card, but the duplicate car title may be sent faster than a mail-in request. The DMV may request additional identification or fees for car title duplicate requestors who gave illegible information or information that did not match the vehicle registration. All copies of car titles are sent to requestors by mail and cannot be picked up at the local DMV office, even after a request has been received. The lost car title replacement can take several weeks to arrive, so the owner should submit and application promptly once a title is damaged or missing.