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How to Get a Bonded Title in California

by Scott Krohn

Bonded titles are issued by the California DMV to serve as provisional proof of ownership of a vehicle when the title is not properly assigned after a sale, or when the owner is not in possession of a standard certificate of title. The absence of a title can result from the document being misplaced or damaged prior to transferring ownership. Surety bond companies provide a form of insurance that pays the amount of a judgment if a bonded title is successfully challenged in court.

Getting a Bonded Title in California

The process of getting a bonded title in California starts with gathering the required documentation and getting a valuation of the vehicle from the DMV. If the valuation is less than $5,000, California requires a Statement of Facts form, which includes information about the seller of the vehicle and when it was purchased. If the vehicle is valued at $5,000 or more, the state requires an application signed by the surety title company that is providing the title bond.

Applying for the Bond

Most surety bond companies offer a simple online application process. In addition to the application, surety title companies usually ask for digital copies of the DMV documentation as well as the bill of sale for the purchase of the vehicle. Each surety company sets limitations on the value of the vehicle to determine whether to run a credit check on the applicant. Generally speaking, title bonds can be approved for vehicles that are valued at less than $5,000 without credit checks, while the requirements for credit histories are more likely for transactions involving higher priced vehicles.

Determining the Cost

In California, the amount of the bond must be equal to the valuation of the vehicle as determined by the DMV. For example, a vehicle valued at $20,000 will require a bond of the same amount. The primary factor in determining the cost of a title bond issued by a surety company is that value. Most companies price title bonds at a minimum of $100 for cars with lower values. As prices move higher, the cost of the bond will be factored at a rate between 1 1/2 and 5 percent of the car’s valuation, depending on the surety company. In situations that require a credit check, a poor score may result in a higher premium for a title bond.

Applying for a Bonded Title at the DMV

After the completion of the application process and receipt of payment, the surety company will transmit a digital certificate representing proof of the title bond to the vehicle owner. This certificate can then be printed to apply for the bonded title with the DMV. At this point the vehicle owner can either mail the paperwork to the DMV or take the documents there in person to apply for a bonded title. The legal ownership represented by the provisional title allows for the owner to re-register and insure the vehicle. After three years, as long as the ownership has not been overturned by a challenge in court, the bonded title can be converted to a standard pink slip.

About the Author

After working for 21 years as a licensed adviser specializing in corporate and private finance, Scott Krohn began his writing career in 2008 covering a variety of topics including business, personal finance, health, and IT. He graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach with Bachelor of Arts degree.

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