What is a Bonded Title?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

A bonded title is another name for a document known as a Certificate of Title Surety. Utilized in lieu of a standard car title, obtaining the bond makes it possible to move forward with registering the motor vehicle with the local Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV. The document also serves as proof of ownership, making it possible to purchase insurance for the vehicle.

A driver can use a bonded title as proof of ownership for a vehicle.
A driver can use a bonded title as proof of ownership for a vehicle.

In many locations, it is possible to obtain a bonded title for a number of different types of motor vehicles. Along with cars, trucks, buses, and travel trailers are also eligible. It is not unusual for a jurisdiction to also approve a title bond for motorcycles and campers.

A certificate of title carries more weight than a bonded title when it comes to determining ownership.
A certificate of title carries more weight than a bonded title when it comes to determining ownership.

While each jurisdiction sets their own criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a bonded title, there are a few requirements that appear to be common to most locations. First, an attempt to locate a legitimate car title must be made before application for the bond is made. Second, the vehicle must be bought or received as a gift; it is usually not possible to obtain a bonded title on any vehicle that is found abandoned. Last, the local jurisdiction is likely to require the payment of taxes that are in excess of the current value of the vehicle; this is different from the usual practice in many jurisdictions that based the applicable taxes on the current assessed value of the vehicle.

It is important to note that while a bonded title does help to establish car ownership, the document is not considered to be on a par with a car title. To a degree, the bond document is a provisional title of ownership that can be challenged for some period of time after the document is issued. In many jurisdictions, it is possible for a bonded title to be challenged for up to three years after the issue date. Detailed information is typically provided when an application for a bonded title is requested from the local tax or DMV office.

After the period specified by the local jurisdiction to challenge a bonded title has passed, it is possible to convert the provisional title into a standard car note or title. Generally, this time period is deemed sufficient for anyone with a legitimate claim to the vehicle to come forward and take legal action to establish that claim. If the claimant is successful, the bonded title usually is declared null and void and the owner recognized by the court can proceed with registering the vehicle in his or her name.

Title bonds may be approved for motorcycles.
Title bonds may be approved for motorcycles.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I just bought a car and the person who sold it to me is giving me the run around. I have the actual title but he never signed it. Is this an issue to get a bonded title? He stopped answering my phone calls or answers with excuses. can i get a bonded title in Georgia. What is my next step?


@keitta28 I'm having the same issue as you. Have you found any help?


Where do you get a title bond?


So does a mechanic's lien override a bonded title?


I purchased a car from a guy who had purchased the car himself three months prior to selling it to me. However, he never registered the car so when I went to my local tag office to register the car in my name, I was unable to do so. Because the title that he gave me is a dealers title and not in his name. The people at the tag office said that he has to get a T-11 form filled out by the dealer who he bought the car from and also has to register the car is his name in order to transfer it over to me. Only now, the guy is not cooperating or responding anymore.

He basically took my money and left me with a car that I am unable to do anything with, because I can't get it registered into my name. Am I able to do the title bond for this situation? Because I am completely at a loss about what I can do.


My new husband bought a car while he was stationed in Germany last year and when he had it shipped back here to Hawaii, he tried to get it registered here but the DMV said that he needed a title, but in Germany, they don't issue titles.

My husband said they just transfer the the car from one person's account to the other and the only paperwork he has on it is the loan info and the lien statement, all in his name. He also has proof that he has insurance in his name on it from Germany.

The DMV also said that he needed to contact NC because that was the last person registered on the title but it is not the person he bought the car from, and NC said they could not issue a title, that only the previous title owner can apply for a lost title. I went in search of this person but had no luck so now I'm stuck. Help!


I bought a truck, paid for in full on Dec 2009 from a lease to own place. I paid on it for two years, and the agreement was as of the last payment, the vehicle was mine. They gave me the yellow copy of the application of certificate of title, but I never applied, because the truck broke down right before I made the last payment, and now, four years later, the truck is fixed and running like a top, but when we went to get a tag and title so we could drive it. The tag office said there was a lien holder!

I had never heard of these people before, and my yellow copy said there were no lien holders whatsoever. Apparently, since the time I bought the truck, the dealership defaulted to this other finance company, and they took possession of their vehicles. Although mine was not on the lot -- it was with me the entire time -- they got my file and put their names as lien holders. The account manager at this company said if I were to get her a bill of sale, she would release the title to me, but she lied. The dealership where we paid for the truck just went out of business a couple of months ago, but still had our information and helped us, but she's saying until these other people pay them, they're not going to give us our title!

This truck is the only thing we have left in the world after suffering severe losses through this past recession, and I was so much looking forward to going back to work, but I don't know exactly what to do now. This cannot be legal! She told my husband to make the other people pay them, and he told her that he was not their bill collectors! Please help us!


I bought a Chevy pickup in 2001. When I went to trade it in, the car dealer said the financial company wrote off my car as a loss because I hadn't made payments for years. How do I get a pink slip on the car?


I was wondering where are these cars bought from, like what state and the plate number and make of cars? I work at the DMV. I could maybe help you out.


I bought a car from a couple a few months ago. I made payments on it (started in April 2012 ended in June 2012). I paid $1800 for the car and it has been paid in full for two months, but they keep giving me the run around when they actually answer the phone. They told me they filed for a lost title, but my lawyer called up to the DMV and found out they never actually filed. But I do know they are the owners of the car and there are no liens on it. So now I need to know what I need to do to get a bonded title, or if that's even what i should do. so I can get tags, inspection and insurance, and the car will be legally mine. I have all the paperwork and receipts.


I bought a car from a dealership with a trade in and down payment. The dealership went out of business before I could get the pink slip and they are not answering my phone calls or letters. I have registered the car consistently and have had no major accidents or tickets. Now it's not running and I need a pink slip to sell it.


I drove a long way to get this car. do you think that since there is a lien on the car it will get taken from me? What about my money I lost? This guy is avoiding my phone calls. He claims that he had done some work for this lady and she was about to lose her house so she could not pay him for the work he did for her, so she gave him the car. He told me he didn't have any license so he needed to sell this car. What can i do? I need help asap please!


I just purchased a vehicle from a gentleman today, but he didn't have a title and the car is in some lady's name. i don't know how to find her and he won't answer his phone. but dmv did tell me her name and said she had a lien on the car and told me to try to get in contact with her but i don't have her number. and i need to know how to go about this?

i can't get the car registered or tags changed over from my other car. someone please help me.


You should get a bill of sale showing that you did buy this vehicle and go to a local insurance company and get a title bond. Hope this helps.


There is a title service in Beaumont, Texas that can help with Bonded Titles for Texas residents. She retired from the DMV and is very helpful. I think it is called Auto Title Recovery.


@boathugger: You could also check with an insurance agency. Lost title bonds are usually freely written with your full documentation of the reason of the loss of the title. The purpose of these bonds is to guarantee to the state that you are the legitimate owner and that no one else has a claim to the vehicle.


@boathugger: You might could go to your local courthouse and talk to someone who does vehicle registration. They would probably know what to tell you to do.


I purchased a used vehicle from a gentleman and he couldn’t find the title for it. I’m not sure what to do. Do I need to get a lost title bond?

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