Hey, rider! Do you have a motorcycle without a title? Instead of disposing of it, let me show you how to register a motorcycle without a title legally. I’ve had a couple of project bikes titled without a previous title certificate or pink slip.
On one occasion, I bought a motorcycle from a private seller in CA without a title. The seller never registered the motorcycle since he had no title. Apparently, he was getting rid of the bike without a title to cover his loss.
After acquiring the motorcycle, I managed to get a title for it out of CA. I made calls to several states to enquire about their titling policies and learned what I’m sharing with you.
The motorcycle was not stolen; even the DMV confirmed it was clean. After a few days, I could sign the previous owner’s name and receive my tags. The motor vehicle department just needed the money, though.
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Should I buy a motorcycle without a title?
Yes and No. Yes, if you know the seller and the motorcycle is clean. No, if the seller is a stranger because you may be purchasing a stolen motorcycle. Even if you look up the VIN or phone the motor vehicle department, you’ll find that the motorcycle is not stolen because the stolen motorbike database is yet to be updated.
A motorcycle title is proof of ownership; without it, the motorcycle is not yours.
How to Register a Motorcycle Without a Title
Since it is possible to put a motorcycle without a title in your name, how is it done?
Below are the steps regarding how to register a motorcycle without a title:
Switch the VIN with a Similar Motorcycle
You can perform a VIN switch by buying a VIN and title or getting it from a salvage yard. However, the motorcycle make, model, and year must be similar to avoid conflicting the report
When buying a VIN, make sure it is not linked with a stolen motorcycle elsewhere. Also, make sure your back fees owed to the DMV, and other toll violations and parking fines do not pass to the recent motorcycle owner.
A questionable VIN plate signifies that the VIN has been modified when you arrive to inspect the salvaged motorcycle. If you purchase it, the police during a routine traffic stop can land you in trouble.
Title It Out of State
If you reside in a state with unfriendly title laws, you can title your bike in a different state and return to register it in your home state legally.
Many states will not get you a new title if your motorbike has no title without a notarized letter from the previous owner listed on the old title or an abandoned/ lean vehicle salvage claim. Vermont, for instance, will title a motorcycle with a lost title if you have a bill of sale and a clean title search during the inspection.
The fee for a lost title is also reasonable in Vermont; check the DMV’s website for the current prices because it changes. After titling your motorcycle, you can transfer it to your state of residence as the original owner.
First, fill out the VT title application and submit the bill of sale and VIN/odometer certificate. You can also complete this process from your state using a titling agency in Vermont. Budget at least $300, though.
Note that this Vermont titling law applies to motorcycles older than 15 years. Moreover, Vermont does not title motorcycles older than 15 years, so you will not be given a title, just registration, and plate.
You will pay for the registration and 6% tax with a minimum of tax on $500. I titled my motorcycle in VT and paid $30.00 tax on $500, plus $44 registration (totaling $74). Returning to CA, I used the registration to get a new motorcycle title.
Title 80s Bike
If you buy an 80s motorcycle, you may be able to get a title for it in your state. In GA, you need a bill of sale and VIN to register a motorcycle without a title. However, the VIN must be clean.
First, you will have the local police inspect your motorcycle for theft and certify you. Next, ride the motorcycle to your local DMV with the certificate to register it in your name.
GV does this for 85 and earlier motorcycles, though. Also, they will not give you a title for the motorcycle.
Make sure to have copies of your valid driver’s license and bill of sale in handy during the DMV application.
Get a Bonded Title
A bonded title gives you the option to register and put a motorcycle with a lost title in your name.
In TX, you must claim you lost contact with the seller or previous owner to use the bonded title procedure for transferring ownership. You can register a motorcycle without a title as a resident and non-resident.
As a resident or military personnel stationed in Texas, the motorcycle must not be salvaged and must be in your possession.
You will require the Bonded Title Application (Form VTR-130-SOF) and supporting ownership evidence (including invoice, bill of Sale, or canceled check) and an acceptable photo ID.
Regarding an out of state motorcycle title application, since the motorcycle was not or has never been titled in Texas, the following are required:
Theft investigation (you’ll obtain a motor vehicle identification number inspection). Get this inspection from the local police or sheriff’s office.
If your documents are approved, you’ll be issued a Notice of Determination for a Bonded Title or Tax Assessor-Collector Hearing.
Unless the seller did not register the motorcycle in their name and can’t contact the previous owner, they must obtain the title and sign it over.
If the seller owes money on the motorcycle, it is the lienholder’s responsibility to request a new title for the motorcycle (if they lost theirs). But the lienholder can only take this step after the loan is paid off.
You can also sell a motorcycle without a title on eBay but must inform the buyer. If the motorcycle is old, I have covered the steps to dispose of an old motorcycle for money or without.
How hard is it to get a title for a motorcycle?
It is moderately hard to get a title for a motorcycle if it has no title and you cannot contact the seller or previous owner to sign over ownership. However, if you can contact the owner or seller, it is not hard for them to obtain a duplicate motorcycle title certificate. In essence, it is easy to get a new title for a motorcycle you bought without a title. Nonetheless, it is not advisable to buy a motorcycle without a title, except you trust the seller and have money to get you through the registration processes and settle the fee and taxes.
Do not be quick to dispose of your bike because it has no title. If you like the motorcycle and consider it a perfect bargain during the time of purchase, pick any option in this list and follow the procedures to title your motorcycle.
Besides, a titled motorcycle is more valuable money-wise than a motorcycle with no title.
Mason is a licensed motorbiker and a mechanic. He partakes in the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and other local motorcycling events. Mason owns a 2020 Yamaha VMAX Sport currently and has built an approved custom motorbike.