Information and Instructions About Your Certificate of Title

What is a title?

A Certificate of Title (MV-999) is the official proof of ownership for a car, truck, motorcycle, motorboat, travel or utility trailer weighing 1,000 pounds or more, or manufactured home (mobile home). The title certificate is used to transfer ownership from one person to another. The title also lists any "lienholders" — those from whom the owner borrowed money to purchase the vehicle or manufactured home. It is wise to keep your title certificate in a safe place. Don't keep it in the car or carry it with you.

Which vehicles must be titled?

New York State issues a Certificate of Title (MV-999) for:

  • most motor vehicles of model year 1973 or newer;
  • motorboats, model year 1987 or newer, that are 14 feet or longer; and,
  • manufactured homes, model year 1995, or newer, that are 8 feet or more in width, or 40 feet or more in length, or cover at least 320 square feet when erected on site.

New York State does not issue a title certificate for any motor vehicle of model year 1972 or older, travel or utility trailer that weighs less than 1,000 pounds, or limited used motorcycle (including a moped).

What's the difference between a title and a registration?

For most owners, a title certificate proves ownership of a car, truck, motorcycle, motorboat, or manufactured home. The title is used to transfer it to another owner.

A registration allows a driver to operate a motor vehicle on a public road, or a motorboat on a public waterway. Manufactured homes are not registered.

A transferable registration is issued for a 1972 or older motor vehicle, or a 1986 or older motorboat. The transferable portion proves ownership, and is used to sell or give ownership to another person. The registration portion allows the vehicle to be operated on a public road, or a motorboat on a public waterway. 

How do I obtain a title?

Most often, you automatically apply for a Certificate of Title when you first register your motor vehicle or motorboat. Use the form Vehicle Registration/Title Application (PDF) (MV-82), available at any motor vehicle office, by request from a DMV Call Center or by download from the DMV internet site. You must pay the registration and license plate fees, any appropriate sales tax, and the fee for a title certificate $50.00. The same process is followed by a dealership that handles your registration and title application. The dealership will issue you a temporary registration.

You will receive your permanent registration, and license plates if requested, when the Department of Motor Vehicles accepts your application. However, New York State title certificates are not issued over the counter. State law requires the DMV to mail a title certificate to the owner, after carefully examining and verifying the proof of ownership submitted with the application. As a result, the title application process may take several weeks to complete.

If you do not receive your title certificate by mail within 90 days after you apply, contact a DMV Call Center. Your registration receipt can help verify your vehicle's plate number, make, year and vehicle identification number (VIN).

When you receive your title, check to see whether the information it contains about your vehicle is correct and agrees with the information on the vehicle registration document. If the title is incorrect, contact the DMV Call Center and ask about obtaining an amended title. If both the registration and title are incorrect, bring them to a motor vehicle office.

How do I obtain a title if I don't want a registration?

This is known as a title only transaction. Fill out a Vehicle Registration/Title Application (PDF) (MV-82) or Application for Title (PDF) (MV-82TON), available at any motor vehicle office. It is also available by request from a DMV Call Center or from the DMV Internet Office.

When applying only for a title certificate, you must pay the sales tax at a motor vehicle office. Bring your proof of ownership and proof of purchase price. The most commonly accepted proof of purchase price is an Statement of Transaction- Sale or Gift of Motor Vehicle, Trailer, All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Vessel (Boat), or Snowmobile (PDF) (at NY State Department of Tax and Finance) (DTF-802), available at any motor vehicle office or by from the DMV Internet Office. Both the seller and the buyer must complete the Affidavit of Sale/Statement. Attach your receipt for sales tax payment (FS-6T) to your Vehicle Registration/Title Application. Do not send sales tax payments to the Title Bureau.

To apply for a title-only because of a lease-buyout, or for a vehicle you will register under the DMV International Registration Program, you may submit a Vehicle Registration/Title Application to any motor vehicle office.

For all other title-only transactions, you must mail the following documents to: The DMV Title Bureau, NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, TITLE ONLY, 6 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12228-0322.

  1. The "Vehicle Registration/Title Application"
  2. Proof of ownership (including any applicable lien release)
  3. Proof of sales tax payment (Retail Certificate of Sale) [MV-50] or a receipt for sales tax payment [FS-6T]
  4. A salvage branding disclosure for vehicles 8 model years or newer
  5. The title certificate fee of $50.00 (the title fee for a Manufactured Home is $125) by check or money order, payable to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. 

What vehicles must be titled prior to registration?

Every vehicle purchased with a Garageman Lien as proof of ownership or any vehicle subject to the DMV Salvage Vehicle Program must receive first be titled before it will be allowed to be registered.

An applicant following the Garageman Lien procedure must present ownership documentation that includes a Notice of Lien and Sale (PDF) (MV-901A) and a Garageman Affirmation and Bill of Sale (PDF) (MV-901B). An applicant in the Salvage Vehicle program must present a Salvage Certificate (MV-907A) and an Salvage Examination/Title Application (PDF) (MV-83SAL). For additional information, if needed, contact the DMV Title Services Bureau, telephone (518) 486-4714.

What proof of ownership will DMV accept?

When you apply for an original title certificate, you must provide proof ownership signed over to you, proof of sales tax payment, and proof of identity.

For a purchase made from a New York State registered dealer, the proof of ownership is a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO) or the vehicle's Certificate of Title (MV-999), plus the dealer's Certificate of Sale (MV-50).

For a casual sale, that is if you made your purchase from an individual or a business that is not a registered dealership, the ownership proof is a transferred Certificate of Title. If your purchase does not qualify for a title certificate, the ownership proof is a transferable registration signed over to you. 

Proofs of ownership
New CarNYS DealerManufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO) plus dealer's Certificate of Sale (MV-50)
New CarOut-of-State DealerMCO, plus dealer's bill of sale, invoice, etc.
Used CarNYS DealerDealer's Certificate of Sale (MV-50) plus prior owner's title certificate signed over to dealer.
Used CarOut-of-State DealerDealer's bill of sale, invoice, etc., plus prior owner's out-of-state title certificate signed over to you or in your name.**
Used CarPrivate SalePrior owner's title certificate signed over to you.

* If the listed proofs of ownership are not available, contact a DMV Call Center or a motor vehicle office before you make your purchase. Without proper proof of ownership, you will not be issued a New York State Certificate of Title, and you may not be allowed to register your vehicle.

** You may register a vehicle, but not receive a NYS Certificate of Title, if your vehicle's original title certificate that was issued outside New York State is held by a lienholder. To register, your Application for Registration/Title (MV-82) must include a certified photocopy of the out-of-state title certificate in your name, or written verification from the out-of-state motor vehicle title authority that you are the vehicle owner and that the other state authority had sent the original title to the lienholder.

If you own the vehicle but do not have the certified photocopy or the written verification, it may be registered if you present an out-of-state registration document issued in your name. After the lien is satisfied, you will receive the original out-of-state title certificate from the lienholder. To apply for a original NYS Certificate of Title, you must mail to the DMV Title Bureau: the notice of lien satisfaction, the original out-of-state issued title certificate, and a letter explaining your circumstances.

What if I need a duplicate title or if my title is lost or stolen?

A duplicate title is needed if your title certificate has been damaged, lost or stolen. You may apply online or at any motor vehicle office for a duplicate title with no change of address.

If you apply at an office, submit an Application For Duplicate Certificate Of Title (PDF) (MV-902), and provide proof of your identity and current address. The fee is $20.00. Your duplicate title will be processed within 72 hours after your application is accepted and will be promptly mailed to you.

You also may mail your application to the DMV Title Bureau, with photocopies of your proofs of identity and address and the $20.00 fee by check or money order, payable to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. 

If you mail the application, please allow added time for postal delivery to the DMV.

Please note:  As soon as a duplicate title has been processed, the original title and any prior duplicates are no longer valid and may not be used to transfer your vehicle.

What is a lien, and how is it recorded on my title?

A "lien" means that someone other than the owner has a security interest in your motor vehicle, motorboat, or manufactured home. This usually is the bank or finance company that loaned you money to pay for its purchase. The lienholder is listed on the title certificate and on the DMV computer records. The lienholder or dealership will complete forms and pay a fee to have the DMV record the lien on your title. As the new owner, you probably will not be involved in filing the lien. The lender cannot charge you the recording fee.

A lien recorded on an out-of-state title will automatically be printed on a New York title certificate unless your New York title application includes proof that the loan has been paid in full.

If a lienholder unknown to you is listed on your title certificate, contact a DMV Call Center.

What if a lienholder has the original out-of-state title?

Unless the lien is satisfied, you can receive a New York registration but not a Certificate of Title. To register, obtain a certified photocopy of the title, or written verification from the other state's motor vehicle title authority that you are the owner, and a letter from the lienholder authorizing you to register the car in New York. To receive a New York State title certificate after the lien is satisfied, you must mail the out-of-state title, the proof of lien satisfaction, and a letter of explanation to the Title Bureau.

How do I remove a lien from my NY title and get a "clear" title?

When you have paid your loan in full, the lienholder must promptly send you a proof of lien satisfaction called a "lien release." This is usually a Notice of Recorded Lien (MV-901), marked and endorsed by the lender proving payment. It might also be a letter on the lender's stationery identifying the borrower's name, the vehicle by make, year and vehicle identification number, certifying the date of full payment and release of the security interest, and signed by an officer of the lending institution. Keep this lien release. You will need to give it to a buyer, along with your title certificate, when you transfer ownership. The DMV will accept only the signed, original release.

You also may request the DMV Title Bureau to remove the lien from your New York State issued title by mailing the original lien release form or letter, the original title certificate, and a check or money order for $20 payable to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. Photocopies are not accepted.

If your address has changed since the title was issued, send proof of your current address (examples: a photocopy of your current registration, driver license, or utility bill). A new title certificate that does not indicate the lien will be promptly processed and mailed to you.

PLEASE NOTE: You are not required to obtain a clear title after the lien has been satisfied. Keep the original lien release, attach it to your title and give it to the vehicle purchaser when you transfer ownership.

How do I transfer a title?

You cannot transfer a title certificate to a new owner if the reverse side of the title is already signed over to you. You first must obtain a title in your own name, then transfer it to the new owner.

The DMV will not accept titles with cross-outs, alterations or erasures of any kind. As seller, you must complete the "Transfer by Owner" section on the back of the title. Do not write on or mark the front. Do not fill in any information until you actually make the transfer to the new owner. If you change or correct any information, including signatures or addresses, the title will not be valid. If the title is voided, even if by error, you must obtain a duplicate title (see above What If I Need A Duplicate Title or My Title Is Lost Or Stolen?) before you can transfer ownership.

For motor vehicles manufactured in or after the 2011 model year that are 20 model years old or newer, the seller must complete the odometer disclosure statement on the back of the title certificate. For vehicles manufactured in or before model year 2010 or a motor vehicle manufactured in or after the 2011 model year that is older than 20 model years, odometer disclosure is not required.

The Damage Disclosure Statement on the back of the NYS title certificate must be completed for all vehicles regardless of the vehicle's age.

Then, in the title certificate transfer portion, clearly print the seller's name and address, the buyer's name and address, and the date of transfer. As seller, when you sign on the line for "Seller's Signature," the vehicle will immediately belong to the new owner.

The new owner cannot legally drive the vehicle before obtaining new license plates and a new registration, or transfer them from another registered vehicle.

Tip:  Before you complete the sale, take your license plates off the vehicle, and remove your registration sticker from the windshield. Unless you transfer the plates to another vehicle, turn them in at a DMV office as soon as possible. If you fail to properly dispose of the plates and sticker, you may be charged with traffic or parking violations that do not belong to you.


What is a motor vehicle "branding"?

A motor vehicle branding is a written notice that a motor vehicle previously either: did not conform to its warranty; had been rebuilt following damage in excess of  75% of its retail value at the time of loss; originally entered New York State under a branded out-of-state title; had not been manufactured to U.S. standards; has been reconstructed; or is not equipped with a tamper-resistant odometer.

A dealer must inform a customer, in writing, if a branded vehicle is being shown or sold. This may be a notice placed on the dealer's bill of sale or handed to the customer. The branding also may be a printed notice on the front of the title.

Read the DMV publication Let the Buyer Be Aware, Buying a New or Used Car (C-18) for helpful information about brands on titles and what they mean. If you are considering a vehicle that has a title with any notation you do not understand, contact a DMV Call Center for information before you purchase the vehicle.

What should I do if I'm the buyer?

Carefully examine the current owner's Certificate of Title (MV-999) before you buy. Be sure the information is correct, and that the title certificate identifies the motor vehicle, motorboat, or manufactured home being sold. Compare the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the title with the actual VIN.

A motorboat's VIN is located on its hull, and a manufactured home's VIN is stamped on its chassis. A motor vehicle's VIN is usually located on the driver's side dashboard, near the windshield:

For a motor vehicle manufactured in or after the 2011 model year that is 20 model years old or newer, be sure the odometer reading, your name and address as buyer, and the date are printed clearly in the spaces provided under "TRANSFER BY OWNER" on the reverse of the title. If the odometer reading is not available on the title, you must obtain a completed Odometer And Damage Disclosure Statement (PDF) (MV-103) from the seller. Sign as indicated on the appropriate place on the title certificate or on the MV-103 to acknowledge you have seen the reported mileage.

For a motor vehicle 8 years old or newer, be sure the seller has completed the appropriate damage disclosure statement. This statement indicates whether or not the vehicle's new title certificate should be branded "Rebuilt Salvage." The damage disclosure statement is printed on the reverse of title certificates issued beginning 1994. If an older version of the title is used, the seller must give you a completed Odometer And Disclosure Statement (MV-103), available at any motor vehicle office. It is also available from a DMV Call Center or from the DMV Internet Office.

If the seller indicates the vehicle has been damaged to the extent that the cost of repairs would be in excess of 75 percent of the retail value of the vehicle at the time of loss, the vehicle cannot be registered. It must undergo a salvage vehicle examination by DMV. After the vehicle passes the exam, the DMV will issue a branded title.

PLEASE NOTE: If the vehicle is 8 model years old or newer, the DMV will NOT register your motor vehicle or issue you a new title certificate unless the seller has completed, and you have signed, the damage disclosure statement on the reverse of the vehicle's Certificate of Title (MV-999) or attached a completed damage disclosure on an Odometer And Damage Disclosure Statement (MV-103).


Be sure the person named on the front of the title is the person actually transferring it. Do not accept a title with anything altered, crossed-out, written-over or erased. 

If a lienholder is listed on the front of the title, be sure the seller gives you the original proof of lien release before you complete the purchase. Otherwise, you may become responsible for the lien, and your purchase could be repossessed for non-payment.

As the new owner, you will need proof of the purchase price for sales tax purposes -- have the seller fill out the appropriate NYS vehicle sales tax form, most often the "Affidavit of Sale/Statement of Transaction" (DTF-802) available at any motor vehicle office, by request from a DMV Call Center or from the DMV Internet Office. Bring the completed form when you apply for registration and title.

Then have the seller sign first and last name in full on the line marked "Seller's Signature." The purchase now belongs to you. 

Title Bureau
PO Box 2750
Albany, NY 12220-0750

Mark J. F. Schroeder, Commissioner

C-19 (1/21) Edited for the Internet 1/21.


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