What is a Certificate of Title?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Certificates of Title are documents that may be used to establish the current owner of a piece of property. Along with identifying the current owner, the document will also provide other valuable information about the status of the property, including any existing easements or encumbrances on the land and buildings located on the property. Full disclosure of the status of the property on the Certificate of Title can help lenders and potential buyers to be fully apprised of the current situation of the asset, and help them make a decision about whether to move forward with the proposed transaction.

Certificates of title come with the home-buying process.
Certificates of title come with the home-buying process.

There are several key sections that are often included in the body of the certificate. One section will be devoted to the physical attributes of the property in question. This can include such details as the address assigned to the property, the dimensions of the land, and descriptions of any buildings that are currently established on the property. All the information that is included in this section helps to ensure that there is no miscommunication about the general condition of the property, as well as the physical location of this tangible asset.

Along with providing adequate details about the nature of the property, the document will also provide essential information about the current owner. This will include the name of the registered owner and some sort of identifying information that helps to establish the identity of the person named as the owner on the property title. Depending on the provisions required by local law, there may be other identifying information regarding the owner required as part of the body of the document.

The final key section of a Certificate of Title will detail any and all current claims that are in force against the property. These may include mortgages currently in force, loans that have been taken out by the owner and that use the property as collateral, and encumbrances, such as a tax lien. Generally, the entity that is holding the encumbrance on the property will also be named, making it relatively easy to verify the current status of the obligation.

Title companies may issue the certificate to any lender that requires it as a condition for extending a loan. Often, the title company will research the status of the property to ensure that all information included is the most current, but there is always that chance that a lien or other encumbrance that has been fulfilled and dismissed may still show up in the search. When that is the case, the property owner will need to contact the former creditor and have the information updated or corrected before the encumbrance can be removed.

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


@BlogLove – How you get a duplicate certificate of title depends on the state you live in. For example, in order to get a duplicate certificate of title in North Carolina, all you have to do is fill out an Application for Duplicate Certificate of Title. The form will ask for information such as a description of the vehicle, information on the registered owner, and information on any lienholders shown on the original title.


I want to sell my car, but I seem to have lost the certificate of title. Anyone have any idea how I should go about getting a duplicate certificate of title?


Without a certificate of title for a vehicle, you often will have trouble filing insurance claims if something goes wrong; likewise, certificates of title are often important in negotiating loans for cars, similarly to with houses.

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