Can I sell my car without a title in hand? (it's lost)


I live in Washinton state and I have someone interested in buying my vehicle, but I won’t be able to contact the DOL in time to find out if it’s legal to sell it before the guy has to buy it.

It’s an odd situation but I basically just need to know if a bill of sale will suffice until I can find the title and mail it to him or apply for a duplicate and mail it to him.

Someone had mentioned that I could transfer the title online if I had his driver license information but I don’t know if that’s actually sufficient for all legalities involved.

Any help here would be great. Thanks!

Every State is different about this. I know that when I’m buying a vehicle for more than pocket money it’s very simple. No title? No sale.


I agree with @wentwest

Talk to your dmv and tell them you want to sell the car, but you can’t find the title. They’ll tell you if you need to apply for a duplicate and/or replacement title

Once you have that in hand, it’ll be a lot easier to sell the car

Do you really want to take a chance that who ever buys this vehicle does not do something that could land you in a lot of legal trouble ? I wouldn’t . Also while this is a very helpful bunch on this forum why would you take legal advice from an unknown source ?
The only answer that counts will come from your state DMV period.

If you are a member of AAA, they can help with this sort of information in some States.


As a buyer, I’m not buying a car without a title in my hand after I hand over the check.

It’s for both my protection and yours (the seller).

Don’t be in such a rush to sell that you cut your own throat (legally) down the road.


@wentwest has an excellent idea

I know the auto club is permitted to do many things that normally require a trip to the dmv. If you’re a club member, might want to give them a call and explain the situation. They might be able to help with a replacement/duplicate title

I know I’d rather deal with my auto club agent, versus going to the dmv and hoping the person is in a good mood that day

A few months ago, I had to go to a dmv to take care of some business. I saw about the worst behaviour I’ve ever seen from a dmv employee. The guy was verbally berating the customers, laying hands on them and shoving them around :slightly_frowning_face:

The information you want is probably on line at the DMV web site. Check the FAQs if you can’t find it in the usual web pages.

Not sure of the legalities, but suggest however you do it, make sure that you are not responsible for what happens to the car once the new owner takes possession, parking tickets, accidents, illegal activities etc.

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Send AND email a release of liability when you sell the car

Just sold my old Triumph motorcycle a few days ago. Got it titled 30 years ago, bought it 50 years ago, was going to sell it a few years ago, then misplaced the title after I pulled it out of my files, did not get around to it. Never got it plated when I moved to a new state, just titled DMV can find nothing, only offered a bonded title as I could not get the vin to match. Got as much for it without the title as I would have asked with the title. Different circumstances for sure. No worries for me. Also gave away a jet ski, was my cousins husbands, said for parts only, no title. After 30 years of sitting what care I.

In OK you can face arrest, jail time, and a fine for selling a vehicle without a title.

A good friend of mine found this out the hard way and there was nothing about the deal that was nefarious in any way.

Legal or not, I can’t imagine why someone would put good money down on a car that they didn’t get the title for? Just a promise of a title to come? They can’t transfer ownership without it. So I smell a rat. Anyone in a hurry to get the car and didn’t care about the title might be using just funny money.

Now anytime I have a change on a car like a loan satisfaction, I immediately go down and pay my $10 for a new title to be issued with the updated information. They go into my folder for that particular car, trailer, etc. Then I have all the folders for my rolling stock in one expandable folder so they are all in one place. I’m still kind of a basket case as far as paper management, but my records manager helped me to keep things simple and has helped me stay a little organized for 20 years now. I also have about six expandable files where I put all my owners manuals by main category such as major tools like welders, etc. I also record on each owners manual the date, where bought, how much, the serial number, etc. and staple the receipt in the book. It just helps a lot but I’ve got a bunch to file yet when I get some free time.


Well I guess I am under the gun? If I need bail can I contact you? I am very sure nothing is going to happen to me. I could not even get proof I owned it! And for a bike I bought 50 years ago no worries in my mind.
Guy had 6 other cycles on his trailer, a wad of 100 dollar bills, he is not into trying to frame me I do not believe.

Your yard sounds like it would fun to rummage around in. Old Triumph’s, antique jet skis…what else ya got back there?

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What d you want? Plum out of vehicles, give you a good deal on some sterling flatware or antique furniture.

Ha, no idea! Got a Jeepster Commando stashed back there? Always wanted one of those odd, ugly ducklings.

Ooh, or maybe some old printers :crazy_face:

To bad I sold my old platten press, of course that was probably not the printer you meant!

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Oh that’s pretty cool! I’d take that over a pile of old Hewlett-Packard’s.


It’s $85.50 for a quick title in Washington State. That is if you can’t wait the 8-10 weeks and save $50.