How to Replace a Lost Car Title in California

Information on Title Replacement

Do you know where your California car title is? Is it in some random drawer? Those are question drivers ask themselves when they go to sell their vehicle or needs prove ownership for some other reason.

The California certificate of title, also called a DMV pink slip due to the original color, establishes the ownership of a vehicle. Whenever you buy or are given a vehicle you have to get the car title in your name to prove that you’re the legal owner and not just out for a joy ride.

At Aceable our online California traffic school courses can help you mask a speeding ticket, but we can’t make your car title magically reappear. That will require either a trip to your local California State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

How to Get a Duplicate Car Title in California

State DMV departments are the gatekeepers of car titles. The Department of Motor Vehicles allows each state to handle car registration, title transfer and car title replacement however they see fit. If you need a replacement title through the CA DMV here’s what you’ve got to do:

  • Fill out an Application for Duplicate Title form (Form REG 227)
  • Pay the duplicate title fee of $20 (can vary depending on the motor vehicle)
  • Mail in the application form or bring it to a CA DMV office.

Sounds pretty simple, right? Now let’s take a look at how to fill out the duplicate title application form.

Duplicate Title Application Process

California has made the title replacement process pretty straightforward. To complete an application for duplicate title you’ll need to provide:

  • Driver license number or ID card number
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle identification number
  • The vehicle’s make and year
  • Vehicle registration card for proof of ownership (if your address has changed)
  • Notarized Lien Satisfied/Legal Owner/Title Holder Release (REG 166) form
  • Lienholder information (if you’re still paying off a vehicle loan)

In Section 3 of the form check the “Lost” box so that the CA DMV knows your original title may still be floating around somewhere. It is important to note when filling out the duplicate California title application that the duplicate title will void the original, but it’s still need-to-know info. Sign and date the form and you’re all done.

Don’t forget you also have to get a CHP vehicle verification within 90 days of replacing your title.

Same Address? Snail Mail It!

As long as your address is the same, you can submit your title replacement application through snail mail rather than squaring away a few hours for a DMV office visit. Mail your completed form along with the duplicate title fee to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

Registration Operations

PO Box 942869

Sacramento, California 94269-0001

Out-of-State Title Issues

Does your vehicle registration card say “Nontransferable/No California Title Issued”? That means the title is registered in another state. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t use Form REG 227. You’ll have to get a duplicate title from the state that issued the title last.

But what if you can’t get an out-of-state-title? Then you’ll need to provide the CA DMV with documentation that the title couldn’t be obtained and possibly a motor vehicle bond title.

Rush Title Replacement - It’s Possible to Speed Up the Process

Need your duplicate title like yesterday? For an additional $15 the California DMV will fast track your replacement title and have it to you within 8-10 business days. However, rush title requests can be only made by mail. Seems a little counterintuitive to the “rush” aspect of the process, but hey, the CA DMV has it’s reasons.