Own It! How Can I Get Title and Registration for My Vehicle?

After you buy your vehicle, you’ll want to make sure how the title and registration is handled.

A vehicle title is the bottom-line, go-to document that proves ownership of a car or another means of transportation (motorcycle, recreational vehicle, boat, etc.). It is issued by the state where you bought the vehicle. For details on our streamlined process, view our Title and Lien Recording Instructions.

Even if you hold the title to a vehicle, you require permission to operate it in the state where you reside. That’s handled through the vehicle’s registration, which includes license plates and a sticker that is renewed annually.

How is title and registration handled when you buy a vehicle?

Typically, when buying a vehicle with the help of a loan through a financial institution like RBFCU at a dealership, the dealer includes the cost of the title and registration along with the taxes (this is referred to as “TT and L” tax, title and license). The dealer makes arrangements for the vehicle to be registered and for a lien to be placed on the title (a lien shows that the lender has a legal right to repossess the vehicle if the buyer defaults on a loan). The state forwards the title to the lender.

If the dealer is not completing the registration and lien placement on the title (or if the transaction was handled through a sale by a private party), the buyer should take the title, bill of sale and promissory note to the state’s local office for department of motorized vehicles (DMV) and have the lender (if there is one) recorded as the lien holder.

I paid off my vehicle, so how do I get my title?

Paper titles will be mailed within 10 business days to the address on file, and delivery time is based upon U.S. Postal Service timelines depending on the address. For an electronic lien title (also known as ELT), the lien will be released from the state’s records to the address on file, this may take between 3-4 weeks. If applicable, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will produce your paper title and mail it to your address on file with the DMV. For Texas titles, if your loan was finalized on or after Oct. 21, 2016, your title is an ELT. If your loan was finalized prior to Oct. 21, 2016, your title is paper. For out-of-state titles, call or message us for more details.

Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.

For qualified members only. Auto loans are subject to credit review and approval. Some restrictions may apply. For complete details, contact the Consumer Lending Center.