If I lost the previous title before transferring the vehicle into my name and I can't find the previous owner, how can I get a title for my vehicle?

If you cannot locate the previous owner, it will be necessary to get:

  1. A Court Order - A court order awarding ownership of a vehicle can be used if the order includes the year, make, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle; or

  2.  A Surety Bond - Without a court order, you must obtain a surety bond.  A surety bond is like an insurance policy, and is purchased by the applicant from an insurance company or bonding agency.  It must be for twice the fair market value of the vehicle ("fair market value" can be established by a dealer appraisal or a recognized vehicle appraisal guide).  The bond is posted for three years and is returned if no claims are filed during the three-year period, or

  3. As a last resort when a Michigan vehicle title has been lost, destroyed, or stolen and the purchaser is unable to contact the previous owner for a duplicate title, a Michigan resident can self-certify ownership at a Secretary of State branch office if the vehicle is ten or more years old and valued at $2,500 or less. The self-certification procedure cannot be used for vehicles titled in another state or by nonresidents.

           You will need to submit:

a) A completed TR-205 Certification of Ownership (available on-line at all Secretary of State offices) stating you are the rightful owner of the vehicle and including the vehicle description, the true value of the vehicle, and a complete explanation of how, when, where, and from whom the vehicle was acquired; and

b) Either of the following:

  • A vehicle value appraisal completed by a licensed Michigan dealer, or
  • A page printed from an on-line appraisal service such as Kelly Blue Book, N.A.D.A. Guides, Edmunds, etc.  (www.kbb.com, www.nadaguides.com, www.edmunds.com).

On-line appraisal sites may provide multiple vehicle values (wholesale value, trade-in value, and retail value).  Any of these values showing a value of $2,500 or less may be accepted.

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