How to Find Out Who Holds the Title on a Vehicle

by Paul Parsons
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Departments of Motor Vehicles advice consumers to avoid purchasing used vehicles unless the seller has the title in his or her name and can sign the vehicle over to the customer. If you want to make sure that the seller holds title to the vehicle, you can get a detailed report of the history of a vehicle or get details from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Step 1

Write down the vehicle identification number of the vehicle before you seek information from agencies. You can find the VIN on the driver's door striker post or on the dash of the vehicle.

Step 2

Research state differences with regard to laws and regulations of titling a vehicle. Each state has different laws and standards. Some states may exempt vehicles of a certain age or type from having a title. Before searching, it is prudent to understand the regulations of the state with regard to the vehicle.

Step 3

Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles of your state. Furnish the VIN number of the vehicle and request a title record from the department. If the vehicle has a license plate from another state, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles of the state and request a title record. You can get the address and telephone number of the DMV of another state from your local DMV.

Step 4

Log on to the website of the Department of Justice if the car is abandoned or the title seems suspicious. The Department of Justice has a National Motor Vehicles Title Information System (NMVTIS) that provides consumers with information about the condition and history of motor vehicles. Fourteen states subscribe to the NMVTIS of the Department of Justice.

Step 5

Request a detailed NMVTIS state record of the vehicle from one of two authorized providers, the CARCO Group Inc. or the Auto Data Direct Inc. These agencies charge a fee for a detailed report of the name of the person who holds the title of the car and all other detailed information about the vehicle.

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