The certificate of car title is a legal document that proves ownership of a car. You can’t just assume ownership by buying a title or even printing yourself a new one — it’s been legally issued by the state’s governing title agency, and can be considered invalid if it has any marks, changes, or otherwise has been tampered with. So what happens if there is an error on your car title?
What is a car title?
A car title or certificate of title is a legal document that establishes ownership of a car. car titles are only printed by the DMV or another authorized state agency. The car title is given to the buyer typically at the time of purchase when ownership is signed over by the seller or dealership.
What is considered an error on a car title?
The DMV considers anything that wasn’t printed by them on the original title to be an error. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Scratch out/scribble
- Tears, rips, and creases
- Stray marks
- Dried stains/spills
- The seller signed in the wrong spot
- Someone other than the seller signed over the title
- Information filled in incorrectly
Alert your local DMV
If you notice an error on your car title, it’s important to address it with your state DMV as soon as possible. An error on a car title can be a misspelling of names, an inaccurate odometer statement, an incorrect sale date, or other miscellaneous errors. An error is not considered to be title document damage, mutilation, or loss of the car title. Do not attempt to make any changes yourself or it may invalidate your title and put your legal ownership status at risk.
Most states actually have a process to fix errors on car titles. In Indiana, it’s called an Affidavit for Certificate of Title Correction. To fix errors on your car title in Indiana, simply complete the Bureau of Motor cars (BMV) form 55582 and submit the completed form to the BMV office. This process is for titles completed in error only and will not work for title transfers.
How to apply for a duplicate title
If your car title is lost, damaged, or stolen, it’s not considered to be a car title error. In this case, if you were the last titled owner, you may be eligible to simply apply for a duplicate title in your state. Be advised that a duplicate title can only be produced from the state DMV where the car was last titled. Additionally, only the registered titleholder in the state DMV records is able to apply and receive a duplicate title. Most states charge a duplicate title fee ranging from $2-$25 per application.
When buying a car, make sure to check the title and the ID of the seller before buying and transferring the title. Once you have received your title, keep it in a safe space. If you know there are issues with your title, get them fixed as quickly as possible to avoid delays further down the line.