How to Buy a Motorcycle With No Title

by Christina Riopelle

Most states require a motorcycle's title in order to transfer ownership. Proof of ownership protects prospective buyers form unknowingly acquiring stolen property. The owner of record must replace the title, or appear at the department of motor vehicles for ownership transfer.

Replacement Title

The seller must request a duplicate title from the department of motor vehicles or comparable state office. She presents her driver's license or passport for identification. If the seller is the owner of record, the DMV furnishes a copy of the title for a fee.

In-Person Transfer

The seller of record may transfer the title in person without obtaining a copy. If a lien does not exist on the bike and it is less than 10 years old -- in some states -- the seller and buyer apply for a duplicate title together. The seller signs off, and the DMV prints a title in the buyer's name. This eliminates intermediate steps.

Law Enforcement

When purchasing an abandoned bike, or a vehicle where ownership is questionable, visit your local law enforcement agency. The police station may crosscheck the Vehicle Identification Number with their records to ensure the bike was not reported as stolen. If the motorcycle belongs to another party, law enforcement may notify the true owner. Under the Driver's Protection Act, private parties may not use DMV to solicit a sale. Law enforcement does not facilitate property transfer, but merely notifies the owner of his misplaced property. The owner may choose to transfer the title or reclaim his motorcycle.

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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  • photo_camera motorcycles image by Artur Blaszak from