If you’ve lost your vehicle title in California, or if it’s been stolen, mutilated, illegible, or was not received, you have more options than in most states. With the same form, you can either apply for a duplicate title (i.e., a replacement copy), as in other states, or for an electronic paperless title. This guide will take you through all of the steps required to complete your application for a duplicate or paperless title in California.
The California Lost Title Form Process
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handles lost title applications. If you have any questions throughout the lost title application process, you can call the California DMV at 1-800-777-0133 or TTY 1-800-368-4327 for the hearing impaired.
Step 1: Fill Out Why You Need a Duplicate or Paperless Title
First, all applicants will need to complete the California DMV’s Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) (available as a PDF document). You’ll begin by marking the box at the top of the form corresponding to your reason for replacing your lost California title. Then you must fill out the vehicle identification information listed on the form.
Step 2: Fill Out the Legal and Registered Owner Information
You’ll need to provide information about yourself (the registered owner), as well as the legal owner or lienholder if relevant. Then you’ll need to provide a statement on the reason you are seeking to obtain a duplicate or replacement title. Unless you are transferring the title, you will not need to fill out the rest of this form. If you cannot prove your ownership of the vehicle, the California DMV may determine you need to provide a surety bond.
Step 3: Contact the California DMV to Determine What Other Forms You’ll Need
The precise forms you’ll need to replace a lost title in California can vary depending on your circumstances, so it’s best to contact the California DMV using the phone numbers provided above to determine which of the following documents you may require:
- Your California photo driver's license or ID card.
- A notarized “lien satisfied” letter or notarized Lien Satisfied/Legal Owner/Title Holder Release form (REG 166).
- Statement of Facts form (REG 256).
- Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262).
- Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form (REG 138).
- Notice of Change of Address form (DMV 14).
- Additional documents and fees.
Forms can be found on the DMV website.
Note: If you’ve received a duplicate title in the last 90 days, you’ll also need to provide a Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form which has been filled out by an authorized DMV representative, California licensed vehicle verifier, authorized auto club employee, or peace officer who has been properly trained to perform vehicle verifications.
Step 4: Provide a Lost Title Bond if Required
If the California DMV determines that you must provide a surety bond (determined on a case-by-case basis), the form is available online and the precise amount of the bond will be based on the value of your vehicle.
Once you’ve obtained and properly filled out all the required documents requested by the California DMV, you can submit your application along with the required fee ($20 for a duplicate title) by either making an appointment at your local California DMV office (with your California photo driver license or ID card) or by mailing it to the following address:
Department of Motor Vehicles Registration Operations PO Box 942869 Sacramento, California 94269-0001
You will receive your California duplicate title within 15-30 calendar days of the DMV receiving your completed application. You can also request rush title processing (8-10 business days). Even if you delivered your application in person, your new title will be mailed to you.