Do Motorcycles Have Titles?

Modern black cruiser motorcycle in garage, Do Motorcycles Have Titles?Owning a motorcycle is one of the most exhilarating experiences out there. But there are some boring parts of it, too, such as getting the proper paperwork. This situation often leads to people asking whether motorcycles come with titles like other vehicles. After some research, we found an answer to this very crucial question.

Motorcycles will have a title because it's an essential document for proving ownership. In most states, titles are a required piece of selling these bikes.

There's more to this topic than what's laid out here. Our following sections will look into it with additional detail to satisfy your curiosity. So please, keep reading to ensure you know everything about motorcycle titles.

What Does it Mean if a Motorcycle Has No Title?

It's rather pointless to have a motorcycle without a title. This situation typically means that a biker can't ride their bike in public. Some exceptions exist to the rule as it can vary from state to state. Alabama is a prime example of a state where bikers only need a bill of sale to operate their bikes on the streets.

You're probably wondering why a bike wouldn't have one in the first place? Well, there are several potential reasons, but here are some common examples:

  1. The seller has stolen the bike, and the title remains with its actual owner.
  2. The previous owner could have died, and his/her estate is handling the sale.
  3. It is lost.
  4. Their old state didn't require one for earlier models.
  5. The former owner was a victim of a natural disaster like a hurricane, tornado, or fire.

Is it Illegal to Sell a Motorcycle Without a Title?

Most states consider it illegal to sell a motorcycle without a title. Some of them won't require a seller to provide the title up front, but they will still need it, eventually. As you might expect, getting a new title without having the seller's old title is a tricky and annoying process.

Can I Buy a Motorcycle Without a Title?

Close up of Sign "Sold and Ready to Roll" on motorcycle

The simple answer is a person could buy a motorcycle without a title. But there a few things a buyer must do to ensure the process goes smoothly. These following tips should ensure nothing strange or sketchy happens during the sale.

1. Obtain a Bill of Sale

You must ask the seller for a bill of sale when buying any motor vehicle. We suggest trying to get this document notarized. This action will provide undeniable proof of purchase to ensure the seller can't maneuver themselves out from the deal's terms.

Getting this bill of sale will help cut out any property ownership problems that could come up later. It'll also protect a buyer from scammers, especially for people who can't ride the bike home after the initial purchase.

2. Do Extensive Research on the Bike

Look into info like market trends and used motorcycle values before purchasing a bike without a title. Older bikes may not need registration paperwork or a standard title. This situation is usually valid for motorcycles that are considered antiques.

You may come across some older bikes with a "registration receipt." In some states, this paperwork is the only requirement to transfer a bike's ownership legally. These guidelines can vary on many factors like state, motorcycle condition, and value. As a result, make sure you know what you're buying before making a final choice.

3. Understand the Implications of a Floating Title

Floating titles are when a title doesn't have the name of who's selling the bike. This situation usually means the seller is acting as an intermediary. They are selling the bike for someone else's profit, or they bought the bike to flip it.

The previous owner might have just chosen to let the registration keep sliding to avoid those annoying DMV fees. This outcome may be the case when a bike's registration was past its original date.

4. Check the Vehicle Identification Number

If a motorcycle doesn't have a VIN, it'd be wise to pass on buying it. You should always verify the VIN to ensure the bike isn't stolen. Most of the time, a motorcycle without a VIN is a sign that the bike is stolen property.

Knowing the VIN will add an extra layer of protection against scammers. This will especially be true for older bikes in disrepair or other damaged ones. Some options might also have an updated VIN on their paperwork.

This updated VIN doesn't always signal something sketchy. Sometimes, a replacement VIN exists because the bike was stolen, but recovered successfully. Replacement VINs are common on custom bikes, too, which don't come from a leading manufacturer.

How To Get a Lost Title for a Motorcycle 

If you lose a motorcycle title, there's no reason to fret. You can get a replacement without spending much effort or time on your part. It's just a simple matter of following three easy steps. But please think about where you could put the new one to ensure it doesn't become lost.

Step 1

Find your state's Department of Motor Vehicles' online website. You should find it by typing "state DMV" into your search bar. The site will be one of the first results.

Step 2

Look on this website for "Request a Title" or "Title Replacement." If you can't find it, try typing into the website's search bar. Once found, open the accompanying application form.

Step 3

Start filling out the application form. You must enter your address, name, city, state, and vehicle identification number. Supply the make, production year, and license plate number of your bike.

You should then make a photocopy of your photo ID. This photo ID copy will need to be mailed with the application and title replacement to the provided address. You could also take these items to the DMV office.

We hope our discussion on all things about motorcycle titles provided some much-needed insight. If you have any more questions, please let us know in our comment section.

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