How to Obtain a Title for a Vehicle With No Title in Ohio

by Scott Krohn

The certificate of title is a legal document that can be used to either represent or transfer ownership of a vehicle. In Ohio, the absence of a title can be solved in a variety of ways, depending on whether there is a lienholder, the seller remains as the owner of record or the buyer transferred ownership and subsequently lost the title.

Title Clerks Responsible

Ohio differs from other states in that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which is the equivalent of the DMV in other states, does not handle title applications. Instead, this work is done by title clerks in each county. This is an important distinction as anyone trying to transfer ownership, remove a lienholde, or apply for a duplicate certificate at the BMV will be referred to the county Clerk of the Courts Title Office . Ohio residents can go to a title clerk of their choosing, regardless of their county of residence.

Lienholder Has the Title

In Ohio, the title for a vehicle that was purchased with financing will be held by the lender until the loan is paid in full. Ohio allows lienholders to retain certificates of title in either a digital or paper format. Once the loan has been satisfied, if the lie holder has a paper title, a company official will sign the front of the certificate and send it to you along with paperwork that authorizes the release of the lien. This documentation can be taken to a county title office to get the lienholder removed and receive a new title. If the title is held as a digital file, the lender will mail you a lien release statement. In this situation, the lien release can be taken to a county office to apply for a replacement title.

Apply for a Duplicate Title

If the title was lost after the sale of a vehicle but before ownership was transferred, the seller will still be on record as the legal owner. If you’re still in contact, you can ask the seller to order a duplicate title, which can be signed off so that you can assume legal ownership of the vehicle. If the title was lost after ownership was transferred, you can apply for a duplicate title. The State of Ohio requires that duplicate titles must be applied for by the owner of record at a county title office. The process requires a valid photo ID of the applicant and documentation of the vehicle identification number. As of 2015, the fee for a duplicate title is $15.

No Title Upon Sale

The State of Ohio discourages any vehicle purchase that is not executed with a certificate of title. Additionally, the state does not allow bonded or surety titles, which are used to record provisional proof of ownership in most states around the country. If you have purchased a vehicle without a title and the seller is unavailable or unwilling to apply for a duplicate certificate of title, the Ohio BMV suggests that you contact a county title office, which reviews vehicle purchases without titles on a case-by-case basis.

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