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

After you buy your vehicle from a dealer or by taking your car-buying experience online through Carvana, 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.

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 lienholder.

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

The lender will provide written notification to the buyer showing proof of full payment. In the case of RBFCU, the credit union will mail the paper title within 10 business days to the address on file, and delivery time is based upon U.S. Postal Service timelines depending on the address. If it is an electronic lien title (also known as ELT), the lien will be released from the state’s records within three to five business days and mailed to the address on file. 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 out-of-state titles, call or message RBFCU for more details.

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This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered financial advice. Please consult a financial adviser before taking any action and to determine how the information provided in this article may apply to your situation.

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.