If you look up "how to ship your car," one topic that’s bound to show up has to do with the documents many companies will require in order to make that happen.
One document, in particular, that seems to be mandatory is the car title. But many car owners lack this document for several reasons. Maybe they’ve lost it, or they’ve already shipped a few of their belongings to their new destination, and the title was packed by mistake in one of those boxes.
Or, perhaps you’ve bought the car with no title from the beginning. Either way, you may be wondering if you can ship your vehicle when the car title is nowhere to be found.
Why Do You Even Need These Documents?
Auto-shipping companies will usually require several documents for shipping a car:
- Title and registration;
- Proof of insurance;
- Photo ID;
- A notarized letter if the vehicle isn’t legally yours.
This is for interstate car shipping. When you need to transport your vehicle overseas, you will need additional documents, like the Bill of Sale, proof you paid the sales tax, or proof you paid import duty.
Essentially, these documents are proof the car is actually yours, or you are authorized by the owner to ship the vehicle if you’re doing it for someone else. It’s like a safety measure, in a sense, to make this process as transparent as possible.
Now, of course, if someone steals a vehicle, chances are pretty low they’ll hire a transport company to ship it over state lines or internationally, as you can imagine. Stolen cars are reported to the police, and since these days many vehicles come with tracking systems, it’s likely the vehicle won’t make it outside of the company's lot until the police arrive.
But most companies will still ask for these documents, especially if you need a long-distance transport to over state or country lines because it legally protects them in case something goes wrong so that they are not held liable.
What If You Don’t Have It?
It depends. To get the best answer for your particular case, you should discuss with the auto transport company, tell them the details of your transport, and see what recommendations they have if you don’t have the title of the vehicle.
For instance, part of our job here at A-1 Auto Transport is to help our clients figure out the best course of action for their transport, and sometimes that includes figuring out what to do with the paperwork.
Some companies may agree to ship your vehicle without all the proper paperwork, especially if you don’t need to ship it over state lines. In interstate shipments, if the car is registered in your name, this may serve as enough proof that the car is yours, and you can likely proceed with transporting it without issues. For international shipping, you may have to check the laws of the country you’re shipping the car to, as they may not agree to allow the vehicle to enter without proof of ownership.
What If You Bought the Car Without the Title?
If you buy the vehicle from someone who either lost the title or doesn’t deliver it as promised, this can create a bit of an issue when it comes to shipping the vehicle.
Again, some companies may agree to ship the car, even interstate, with no title, based on the obvious notion that shipping a stolen vehicle through a company is a really, really bad idea. Others may not budge when it comes to the paperwork, for legal reasons.
Hope is not all lost, however. The simplest thing to do here is to call the seller and ask for the title, explaining you need it to ship the car. If you can’t get a hold of them, or if the title is gone forever, you can apply for a bonded title, which is legally a title that has a surety bond attached to it. A bonded title is like an official promise that you are the true owner of the vehicle.
The bonded part can be removed from the title after a few years, and you can re-apply for a clean title later, but in the context of transporting the car, a bonded title holds the same weight.
You can apply for a bonded title from your local DMV. As you know, each state regulates its own DMV, so there may be different rules as to how to apply for this title depending on where you live. Generally, the process will consist of:
- Buying a Lost Title Bond from a surety bond company;
- Filing all the paperwork;
- Taking all your documents to the DMV to make it official.
This process can take a while to complete, however, so it may delay your plans of transporting your vehicle. But if you cannot ship the car without it, and the original title is out of the question completely, it may well be the only option you’ve got.
Can We Help?
A1 Auto Transport has been in the business for decades, so we’ve honestly seen it all when it comes to transporting vehicles. Now, we can’t fully guarantee your vehicle can be shipped with no title, but that really depends on the details of your shipment. Either way, you can contact one of our representatives for more information, and we’ll try to find the best course of action to ensure you are able to send your vehicle to where it needs to be.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.