Car Title Vs. Car Registration: Why Are They Important?

A car title is a document that establishes a person or business as the legal owner of the vehicle. Similarly, car registration can be used by state governments to identify vehicle owners, but this document also represents a person’s ability to drive their car legally on public roads. While each state may have different regulations regarding car titles and car registrations, if your car isn’t registered, there are legal consequences for driving your vehicle on any public road in the United States. This can include tickets, penalty fees, or impoundment in some cases. 

A car title is a clear and official record of who owns the vehicle, and having this document in your name and possession matters if you want to use it as collateral for a loan or sell it to a private party. If you’re interested in getting a title loan in your state, you may wonder if a car title and valid vehicle registration are necessary to qualify for fast funding. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between a car title vs. car registration and find out if they’re essential in getting approved for a quick title loan today.1

What is a Car Title?

car title vs car registration

As mentioned above, a car title is a legal document the applicable government agency in your state issues to establish vehicle ownership. The title can be used to demonstrate that you legally own the car and includes essential information about your vehicle, such as its make, model, year, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and the exact number of the odometer reading at the time of your purchase. Having a vehicle title in your name is important if you plan on transferring ownership to a new buyer or borrowing against its value through a vehicle-secured loan. Without a vehicle title in your name, you will not be able to sell it to a private party or apply for a car title loan.1

What is Car Registration?

Car registration is a document that state governments use to connect a vehicle to its rightful owner. It is common for your car registration to expire after a year or two in most states. Comparatively, you do not need to renew the title to your vehicle after receiving it, but it must be reissued if you move to another state.

Almost every state in the U.S. requires vehicle owners to have valid registration documents in order to legally drive on public roads. If the authorities catch you driving without valid registration on hand, you may face citations, fines, and other penalties.

If you’re a new car owner, you can register your vehicle on-site if you purchase it from a dealership. If you’re buying a used car from a private seller, you must visit your local government agency or a registration service location to complete the registration process. Be aware that the application forms to complete this process can vary by state, but you can expect to provide information about your vehicle, such as its make, model, VIN, and mileage. Additionally, you must prepare to pay all the applicable fees necessary to finish the registration process. Registering your vehicle can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $200, depending on your state of residence.

Having valid registration could provide you with more benefits than just the ability to drive your vehicle on public roads. For example, if your car is stolen, you can prove it is legally yours by showing proof of registration. Don’t hesitate to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or state equivalent if you lost or misplaced your registration card. An available representative may be able to provide information about how much it’ll cost to replace your vehicle registration. 

What are Some Frequently Asked Questions About Car Titles Vs. Car Registrations?

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about car titles and car registrations:

What Documents Do I Need to Register a Vehicle?

The documents needed to obtain car registration can vary depending on your state. However, you may have to provide a completed registration form, proof of insurance, a valid driver’s license, the title of your vehicle, and money for the applicable registration fees. Make sure to contact the appropriate government agency in your state for more information on the paperwork you will need to complete this process.

Can You Sell a Car Without the Title?

Buying or selling a car without legal proof of ownership is illegal in most states. If your title is missing or has been stolen, you can obtain a replacement vehicle title by applying for a duplicate title at your local DMV or applicable government agency. 

Can I Still Apply for a Title Loan Without Registration?

As previously stated, you cannot apply for a title loan without a title in your name. However, you can still apply for a title loan if your registration is expired or past due. Depending on the circumstances, the title lender may be able to pay the registration fees and any past-due fees for you, allowing you to secure funding through this secured loan option.1

Sebastían S.
Sebastían S.
Sebastían S. is a graduate of Texas State University and a contributing member of the ChoiceCash content team with over two years of experience in the financial services industry. As a proficient digital content writer, his writing style combines transparency and expertise in order to make complex financial topics accessible to a wide audience. Whether the topic is about title loans, debt management, or budgeting, Sebastian's objective is to provide readers with accurate and relevant information that is easily understood. Find him on Linkedin.