NC Lost Car Title Guide

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This guide takes you through all of the steps required to replace a lost title in NC with a bonded title. A bonded title is used if you cannot otherwise prove ownership. The bond acts as a guarantee against a fraudulent ownership claim.

The Lost Title Application Process

Applications for lost titles in North Carolina are handled by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you have any questions throughout the process, you can email the DMV’s vehicle registration unit. For phone inquiries, you’ll need to call your county DMV office. A complete list of those offices and their contact information is also available on the DMV’s website. More information on the bonding process can be found on the DMV site.

Step 1: Determine Which Type of Title You Need

A North Carolina bonded vehicle title is necessary only as a last resort when you cannot prove ownership from a previous title or a court order. Make sure you have exhausted all other possibilities before you apply for a bonded title. Vehicles falling into the following categories are ineligible for bonded titles:

  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Vehicles with a mechanic or storage lien
  • Vehicles with an outstanding lien that cannot be canceled
  • A vehicle on which litigation is pending
  • A vehicle that is not domiciled in North Carolina
  • A vehicle whose claimed owner is not a resident of North Carolina
  • A vehicle that is branded parts only, non-rebuildable, or declared junked
  • A vehicle that has been declared a total loss by an insurance company and sold without a title

Step 2: Compile the Required Documents

You’ll need to supply all of the following documents along with your application:

  • An odometer reading (only applies if the vehicle is less than 10 years old)
  • A completed and notarized Title Application declaring any liens on the vehicle
  • A completed Affidavit of Facts (if the vehicle has been previously modified)

Step 3: Get Your Vehicle Appraised

To get your vehicle appraised, you must either go to your local license plate agency or call 919-715-7000.

Step 4: Complete a Vehicle Inspection

You’ll need to obtain an inspector's report from the License & Theft Bureau Inspector and include the completed inspection with your application.

Step 5: Obtain Your Title Bond

You’ll need to obtain a surety bond from a company licensed to provide such bonds in North Carolina. The bond must be worth 1.5x the value at which it was appraised. The minimum bond amount is $100, so your vehicle must be appraised at a minimum of $67 to qualify for a North Carolina bonded title.


Step 6: Get an Emissions Inspection

Finally, you’ll need to obtain an emissions inspection at your local inspection station. You’ll need to include this with your application.

When you’ve obtained all of the required documents, you’ll need to submit them to your local DMV office, along with the following fees; you may choose either a Certificate of Title with a longer processing time, or the more expensive Instant Title, which is issued immediately:

  • Certificate of Title: $52
  • Instant Title: $98
  • North Carolina Highway Tax of 3% of the vehicle’s value

Note: All North Carolina DMV offices accept payments in the form of cash, money order, and personal checks. Some also accept major credit and debit cards. You can call ahead to confirm which payment methods are possible at your local office.

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