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How Long Does It Take For A Car Title To Come In The Mail?

  • 5 min read

It can be frustrating waiting for your car title to come in the mail. However, it is something that you have to wait for. The length of time it takes to get your paperwork in the mail depends on many factors. Some of which have nothing to do with you, but others that may determine how long it takes to get your title include who you purchased the vehicle from, where you purchased the vehicle, and how you purchased the vehicle. In this article, we will discuss each of these to understand what might affect how long it will take for you to get your car title.

Top 4 reasons why you didn’t receive a car title

Reason #1: You live in a non-title-holding state and you financed your vehicle purchase.

If you financed your vehicle through a lender and you live in a non-title-holding state, your car title was sent directly to your lienholder. In non-title-holding states, the title is sent to the lienholder, aka lender, until the loan is paid off in its entirety. In these states, the title is considered to be a lienholder title or a lien title because it will be issued in the name of the lienholder as well as your name. Once your loan is satisfied, your lienholder is supposed to stamp your title as paid and send it to you in the mail. Unfortunately, many lienholders will put this responsibility on the vehicle owner.

What states are non-title-holding states?

There are 41 titleholding states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

What are title-holding states?

Title-holding states will issue the vehicle title directly to the owner of the vehicle, not the lienholder. The lienholder will still be listed on the vehicle title until the loan is paid off, but the title is kept by the vehicle owner/operator. These titles, although in possession of the owner, still require a lien release to remove the lienholder from the title once the loan is satisfied.

Reason #2: You purchased the vehicle from a dealership, but the dealership has since closed before mailing you your title.

Sadly, this happens to more people than you may think. Oftentimes when dealerships are experiencing financial difficulties or they are planning to go out of business, they’ll first try to sell all of the vehicles they don’t have titles for or cannot obtain a title for them. This way they avoid paying additional registration and title fees with the DMV. The dealership is hoping that this will now be the buyer’s problem.

Reason #3: You purchased the vehicle from a private seller and the seller needs to obtain a duplicate title.

If you know that the seller needs to obtain a duplicate title or they are in the process of obtaining a duplicate title, it may take a few weeks for the application to be complete and the new title to be issued. Once the new title is issued, the duplicate title will be issued to the seller, not you as the buyer. The seller will need to sign the new duplicate title over to you and you will need to take the signed title to the DMV to transfer the title to your name. Remember, only the registered owner in the DMV records can apply for and obtain a duplicate title. Until you give the DMV the signed prior title, your name is not in their records for that vehicle. If this situation matches your scenario, make sure to keep good contact with the seller of your vehicle during this process.

Reason #4: You purchased the vehicle from a private seller, but the seller did not have the title at the time of purchase.

We advise against purchasing a vehicle without a title, even if the seller provides you with a seemingly reputable reason as to why they don’t have it. However, if you did purchase a vehicle without a title from a private seller and haven’t received it in the mail yet, reach out to them in all forms of contact that you have. Create a paper trail or digital trail of communication regarding the vehicle title. If the seller is unable or unwilling to send you the prior title or get you a duplicate title, you will need to seek an alternative method of title recovery.

There are a lot of other reasons why your car title hasn’t come in the mail yet that have nothing to do with these factors such as inclement weather impacting mail delivery or slow processing times at your local DMV. The most important thing to remember is that your vehicle title assigns legal ownership of your vehicle. If your title is missing, lost, or stolen, it’s important to address the issue immediately. Until the title is in your name, you are not the legal owner in the eyes of the law.