Like all other states, California requires that vehicle owners have the title to their vehicle for a number of different purposes. If you decide to sell the car, you’ll need the title. You’ll also need it to trade it in, and to register it with a new state if you decide to move. If you’ve just moved to California, you’ll need your car’s title to register your car.

The problem with titles is that they can be easily lost. They can also be stolen, or damaged by fires, floods, and accidents. Short of keeping your title locked in a bank safety deposit box, it can be hard to protect this vital document. Thankfully, you can get a duplicate title if yours is lost, stolen or damaged. However, you’ll need to follow some specific steps mandated by the state of California.

You have two options to replace your lost, stolen or damaged car title in California. You can do it in person at a local DMV office, or you can do it by mail. Both will require the same first steps, though.

Before you apply for a duplicate title:

  • Download Form REG 227 (Application for Duplicate Title) from the California DMV website. Print it out, and complete it. Make sure the following information is provided:
  • The name of the owner (full name)
  • The current address of the owner
  • The driver’s license number of the owner
  • The license plate number for the car
  • An explanation of what happened to the previous title
  • The owner’s signature
  • The damaged title (if possible, not required in all instances)

To apply for a duplicate title in person:

  • Make an appointment at your local DMV office.
  • Bring the completed form and all other information.
  • Pay the $20 replacement fee.

To apply for a duplicate title by mail:

  • Complete the form and gather your other paperwork.

  • Include the $20 replacement fee.

  • Mail your information to the following address:

    Department of Motor Vehicles
    Vehicle Registration Operations
    PO Box 942869
    Sacramento, CA 94269

For more information, see the California DMV website.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Car Title in California and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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