What Is a Bonded Title for Motorcycles?

by Jerry Romick
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Most states require proof of ownership before they will allow to register and license a motorcycle for use on public roadways. If you purchase your motorcycle from a dealer or an individual who has the title for the bike, then all you need to do is take that paperwork the local Department of Motor Vehicles and register the motorcycle. If you purchase a motorcycle from an individual who has lost the title, or you receive a bike as a gift, without the title, you will need to acquire what most states call a bonded title to be able to register your motorcycle.

Function of a Bonded Motorcycle Title

A bonded title for a motorcycle helps to establish your ownership of the bike in question. It also limits your liability and the liability of the state issuing the title in the event that another party comes forward and claims ownership of the motorcycle. If that happens, and the other party can prove ownership, the company that issued the bond will either make payment, or you will have to surrender the motorcycle, but you will not be subject to further legal proceedings.

Questions of Ownership

The procedure varies a little from state to state, but in general, you will need to fill out some paperwork detailing how you came into possession of the motorcycle. In most cases, a bill of sale or receipt from the seller will meet this requirement. You will also need to determine that the motorcycle was not reported stolen. Most states will provide this service, for a fee, and in fact require a Vehicle Identification Number Inspection Certificate or similar statement to be filled out by an agency of the state -- usually the state or local police -- and then submitted along with other paperwork at the time you apply for the bonded title.

Determining the Value of the Motorcycle

The value of the motorcycle will be used to determine the amount of the bond you will need to secure. Some states will waive the bond if the value of the motorcycle falls below a certain amount. The method of determining value also varies from state to state. Some use the motorcycle's purchase price; others, such as Texas, use what is called the Standard Presumptive Value. Other methods of determining the value of the bike include the NADA Guide or an appraisal from a private company or individual.

The Cost of a Bonded Motorcycle Title

In addition to the fees assessed by your state's DMV for each of the forms you must submit and for the title itself, you will need to pay the company that issues the bond. That cost will vary, depending on the value of the motorcycle. Most companies will have a minimum fee of $100 to $150 for a motorcycle valued at $5,000 or less. That fee will increase as the value of the motorcycle goes up.

Transferring a Bonded Title to a Clear Title

A bonded title for a motorcycle will be issued for a certain amount of time -- usually three years. If no claims of ownership from other parties are made during that time, then you can acquire a clear title for the motorcycle.

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