How to Get the Title After Paying Off Your Car

If you just made your final title loan payment, you might be thinking, “I paid off my car. How do I get the title? What’s next?” The process may seem complicated, but armed with the right information, it can be a breeze.

Congratulations are in order if you’ve recently paid off your car title loan, and it’s time to officially become the sole owner of your vehicle by the title! Keep reading to understand the importance of car titles, resolving lien issues, how long it takes to get your title after paying off your car, and the process of getting the title after completing all of your auto loan payments.

Understanding Car Titles

title after paying off your car

A car title, known as a pink slip in some states, is a legal document proving the ownership of a vehicle. It contains essential information about the vehicle, such as the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the car’s make, model, and year. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent government agency in a state will issue the car title, allowing the owner to legally register and insure the vehicle. Additionally, a car title must be reissued with each new owner and any new state of residence.

How Electronic Titles Work

In many states, an Electronic Lien and Title system, which is often referred to as the ELT, is used by government agencies. The Department of Motor Vehicles, which may be called the Bureau or Division of Motor Vehicles, or the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), uses this extensive electronic database and connects both dealerships and lenders to the most current information about cars and their owners in each state.

Getting Your Car Title After Paying Off Your Car

Upon paying off your auto loan, the lender will release the lien on your car title, and the process to get your title may vary depending on the state you live in. You are expected to do the necessary legwork in some states, but if you live in a state with an ELT, you’ll automatically be sent a new title within a month or so of making the final payment on your loan. However, depending on the backlog of releases the DMV has to process, it may take longer than a month.

If your state or lender doesn’t use an ELT, you may have to take care of the paperwork yourself, and the exact process to get your title will vary depending on whether you live in a non-title holding or title-holding state. If you live in a title-holding state, such as Michigan or Kentucky and an ELT is not used, you will be the one responsible for handling most of the process. When your loan is paid off, your lender will send a lien release form and formal documentation that your loan has been paid in full. Once you have it and are ready to get your car title after the loan payoff, you may be required to submit physical paperwork by mail or in person at the applicable government facility.

Here are the common documents needed to obtain the car title after the loan payoff:

  • Proof of Identity, Such as a Valid Driver’s License or U.S. Passport
  • Lien Release Document
  • Proof of Vehicle Insurance (Not Always Required)
  • Proof of Residence, Such as a Utility Bill or a Lease Agreement (If Required)
  • Completed Application Form for Vehicle Title and / or Registration
  • Payment for the Applicable Fees

It’s important to note that these required documents may differ from state to state, so it’s always a good idea to check with your local DMV for more information on getting your car title after the loan payoff. The DMV is responsible for processing and issuing car titles. You will need to visit your local DMV office or check their website for specific instructions on how to submit the documents. Make sure to fill out all the forms accurately and include any additional documentation required. After submitting the required documents, it is important to understand the timeframe for receiving your car title. Whether or not you live in a title-holding or non-title holding state, the processing time may vary depending on the DMV’s workload and other factors. If paperwork has to be submitted manually, the wait time will likely be longer.

If you live in a non-title holding state, when your loan is paid off, your lender will send the lien release to the DMV (or state equivalent), and the DMV will send you the updated title through the mail.

Resolving Lien Issues

how long does it take to get a title

When you finance a vehicle, a lien will be present on your vehicle’s title. Until the lien is released, the lienholder has the right to repossess the car if you default on the loan.

If you are trying to pay off your car loan, you may face some challenges if you can’t find the lienholder because they merged with another organization or rebranded and changed their name midway through your loan. In such cases, try the following:

  • Search Public Records: The easiest option may be to check your state’s motor vehicle agency or county recorder’s office for any available lienholder information. The DMV or applicable government agency in your state may be able to store a list of lenders and lienholders on their website. If you can access it, check to see if your lending company or lienholder is listed as a subsidiary of another or if they’ve recently changed their name.
  • Consult a Professional: If the DMV is a dead end, seek advice from a legal professional who is experienced in handling lien issues.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Titles

How long does it typically take to get the title after paying off your car?
Typically, it takes around 2 to 6 weeks to receive the title after paying off your car loan. The exact timeline depends on various factors, such as the efficiency of the lienholder or lender, the DMV’s processing time, and any potential delays in processing.

Can you get a title on a car that is not fully paid off?
Unless you live in a title-holding state, you cannot obtain the car title if you still have an outstanding balance on your auto loan. Once you have fulfilled all of the necessary payment obligations, you can start the process to get your car title.

What should you do once you receive your car title?
Once you receive your car title, you should keep it in a safe place. You will need it if you want to sell or transfer ownership of the vehicle, register it in another state, or use it as collateral for a title loan. It is advisable to make copies of the title and store them separately in a secured location to ensure you have a backup copy. If you need fast cash, you can borrow against the value of your vehicle through a title loan. Apply for a ChoiceCash title loan online or over the phone once you have your vehicle’s title on hand!1

Jessica R.
Jessica R.
In 2013, Jessica R. graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in both French and English. In her ten years as an educator and content writer, she has gained a great deal of experience and expertise. As a valued member of the ChoiceCash content team, Jessica is responsible for creating educational and engaging financial content that tackles various topics, including budgeting, secured loans, and more.