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Dealer Bundles
Duplicate Titles
72 Hour Rush Titles
DMV Record Print Outs (CVR's)
In Person DMV Walk-Through
Lien Releases
DMV Fee Calculations
Vehicle Verification
Letter of "No Title Issued"

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The Process to Obtain a California Duplicate Title

  • If you don't know who the DMV shows as the Registered Owner (R/O) and Legal Owner (L/O) of record, we need to start by obtaining a "CVR" or DMV record print-out showing this information. The turn around time is about 30 seconds.
  • Once we have the CVR, we send a "certified letter, return receipt requested" to the R/O. The reason we send it certified mail, return receipt requested is because this meets the DMV's "diligent effort" requirements (which would eventually allows us to proceed without the signatures in the worst case scenario). In the envelope, we include a cover letter explaining who we are and why we are contacting them, a plea for their cooperation emphasizing the importance of transferring the vehicle out of their name, instructions on how to sign the enclosed document, a duplicate title application, a Bill of Sale/Odometer/Power of Attorney form, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
  • If there is a lien holder of record, we follow the process outlined above except we mail them a lien satisfied form with instructions to have it notarized. We have an in-house notary public, and on occasion the legal owner will permit us to complete the lien satisfied when we contact them by telephone. Furthermore, we have power of attorney to sign for certain lenders.
  • Assuming the R/O both receives the letter and is cooperative, we will receive the signed documents in the mail. Likewise for the lien holder. At that point, we can proceed in obtaining a duplicate title in your dealership's name because we now have the signatures we need. A smog is not required if the title is going into a dealer's name.
  • We can process the duplicate title at a field office, which takes about 5 weeks to issue the title, or through the "72 Hour Rush Title" unit in Sacramento, which takes about 1-3 weeks to issue the title.
  • Assuming the R/O and/or lien holder either doesn't receive the letter or isn't cooperative, we have to wait 30 days from the date we sent the certified letter. At the end of 30 days, you are permitted to obtain a "Defective Title Vehicle Bond" and waive the DMV's signature and lien satisfied requirements.
  • The cost of a bond varies, and you may be able to get a better price if you shop around. An average price is 2% of the amount of the bond. The amount of the bond corresponds with the value of the vehicle. As for turn-around time, if the bond is under $5,000, it can be issued the same day. If it is $5,000-$10,000, it takes a couple of days. If it is over $10,000, you must submit business or personal financial statements with the application to get approval, so it takes a little longer. A dealer we work with recently got a $7,800 car bonded for $100.
  • If you want to avoid obtaining a bond and exhaust all of your other options first, we can try to track down the registered owner by using one of the on-line "people search" programs, or a local process server/private investigator in the state where the person last resided. The on-line search programs cost about $45 and claim to be able to provide current residential addresses.
  • After the bond is issued, the DMV will process the duplicate title as if the signatures had been obtained. Having a bond in lieu of signatures DOES NOT preclude us from being able to obtain a "72 Hour Title," but it's POSSIBLE they will refuse to process it with the 72 hour rush. It depends on if it's a "clearable item" and everything looks to be in order.
  • The only other possible complication occurs when the DMV has a record of the vehicle changing hands between dealers or wholesalers. For example, if the vehicle was traded in by the R/O to a dealer, and then sold at auction, and then went through a couple of wholesalers, etc. If the DMV does have a record of any dealers or wholesalers on the vehicle's history report, then we need to get bills of sale/odometer statements for each dealer or wholesaler to make a "chain of ownership." We send letters to each of the wholesalers/dealers listed on the DMV print out. Sometimes we are able to call them and obtain their verbal consent to sign on their behalf.
  • Many of our dealers have already sold the vehicle to a retail buyer when they contact us to start the duplicate title process. As a courtesy to our dealers, we will send a letter to the new owner and the new finance company (if applicable), explaining that we have been retained for the purpose of reconstructing a lost title, offering a brief explanation of how the process works, and estimating how long it will take before they will receive their DMV paperwork. The new buyer and finance company can contact us directly for updates on the status so they don't have to contact you. At Esquire Titling we know how important your relationships with your customers and finance companies are. We will provide them with courteous, prompt, and accurate information, always reflecting positively on your dealership.

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