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Lien Releases
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The Process to Obtain an Out-of-State 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 DMV Record print-out showing this information. The cost and turn around time for a DMV Record varies per state. Click here for a list.
  • Once we have the Record print-out, 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 allow 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 documents, the appropriate DMV forms for that state, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Some states require the owner’s signature to be notarized. We offer to reimburse the owner for this cost. Other states require the owner to make a photocopy of their driver’s license to submit with the application to confirm their identity. We inform the owner of any documentation requirements.
  • 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 by sending the paperwork and required fee to the DMV (click here for duplicate title fees and turn around times per state). Many states insist on mailing the duplicate title to the registered owner of record. If that is the case, we inform the owner of this and send them a pre-paid envelope to mail the title to the dealership when they receive it. We also instruct the owner to either sign off on the title or include a power of attorney. If the state permits the title to be issued in the dealer’s name, we complete the paperwork to cause this to happen. Sometimes the DMV will insist on issuing the title in the registered owner’s name but will mail the title to an address other than the one they have in their records. In that case, we will put your dealership’s mailing address on the application and provide you with a power of attorney from the registered owner.
  • 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.
  • After the bond is issued, the California DMV will process the duplicate title as if the out-of-state title had been obtained. In addition to submitting the bond, we must submit the proof of mailings from the certified letters. Having a bond in lieu of a title 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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