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If you want to buy a car without a title you can do that. Every state has different rules that apply to that situation. So you need to find out the laws in the state you are buying the car and the laws in the state you want to take the car. In most cases you have to prove to the State Patrol that the car is not stolen. Then apply for a title from a judge or clerk of courts. Then the car will get a brand new assigned vin number. This process can take  weeks or years. It all depends on the situation. Just keep in mind that if in 10 years somebody walks up to u at a car show with an old title for your car and can locate the old vin or serial number, it is their car not yours.

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It is a shame that someone has a nice old original car with no title has to go to the scrapper. so what all of you are saying is the car is useless.  There is no way to put the car on the road. Thanks for your replies.

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Gary, It all depends on the state which the car was last registered. My state of Georgia does not issue titles for older cars. The transactions are handled with the registration and a bill of sale. Some title states will issue you a provisional title if you post a bond and after a period of time, and all is good, will issue you a title. Give us some more detail and the vehicles home state and someone here can point you in the right direction. 

 

Dave

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All you need to do is pick up the phone and call your state DMV and ask them what the procedure is for registering a car without a title. Or you can go to their website and it will probably outline the procedure.

 

In some states it is easy, in some states not so easy, and in some states a long arduous process involving lawyers and bondsmen. The information is there for the asking and the 46 post thread linked above had a lot of useful information. If you review the thread you  will see that there is no definitive answer - it all depends.

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It looks like you are in South Carolina. Do you have a bill of sale? Can you reach the previous owner? Did it come from a state like NH where the registration is the title? Do you have a registration for it? Have you had your car inspected by a deputy to check that the hidden vin matches the tag and it’s not stolen? Does your state have a bonded title process?

 

Laws vary by state a lot. Maybe some here have experience with SC DMV, but I can tell you from experience, that not only do laws vary, but it greatly depends on the clerk you speak with. 

Edited by victorialynn2 (see edit history)
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States like Georgia are the worst because they won't issue a title even if you want to pay for one. It makes it easy to get in the car and get it on the road, just more leg work to move it to say, Pennsylvania. I moved one car from Pa to Ga and then back to PA, it never got off of it's PA title, but it was registered in Georgia for a number of years. I was glad it didn't cause me issues, but it did cause me not to buy any old cars while living there since I knew I would be moving back at some point. Even if you don't plan to move, and the state DMV won't take your title, keep it from the old owner as it will help in the future.

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If you are in SC, laws have changed in the past couple of years.  You need to go to the DMV office and discuss the situation with them.  You will be asked to fill out a form describing how you acquired the vehicle and why there is no title with it.  A DMV officer will come out and verify the serial number and that form will be submitted to the main DMV Office in Columbia.  They will decide if your documentation is sufficient to issue a title.  Not easy, but prior to this there was no option in SC to obtain a title on a car without one.  History of the car and prior registrations will help.  If the owner lost the title, it is much easier to have him request a duplicate title.  

 

When I run across these cars with no title, they should be parts car pricing unless the owner is willing to get a title.

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Do NOT consider this response to be legal advice. I am not an attorney, and I know nothing about the laws, especially in states other than my own. I am merely answering with my opinion as a lay-person, the best that I can understand it. 

 

As I understand it, in effect, you can SELL your untitled vehicle to someone in a state which does not require anything more than a notarized bill-of-sale for cars of a certain age. You must understand that you really have legally SOLD that car! Then that buyer can go to his/her BMV with a legal, notarized bill of sale, proving that they do indeed OWN that vehicle, and obtain a title in their own name, in their own state. Then, they can choose to sell the car to you or anyone else, legally, with their notarized signature on the new title. If indeed you buy the car back from them, legally, and have a notarized legal title in your possession to prove it, then you can go to your own BMV and request a new title in your own name. Many states will require an inspection of a purchased vehicle with an out-of-state title, to verify that VIN's on the vehicle and the title match, and have not been tampered with. Then, your state will likely issue a title in your name. At least, all this works in my state. 

 

As far as I understand it, this is totally legal, as long as you really do understand that you really must SELL your vehicle to someone else, and that the vehicle is no longer your property, until when (and if) you buy that car back, and get a signed, notarized legal title to prove it. 

 

By the way, don't even think about tampering with a VIN! 

 

Potential problems with this action include: 

  • You better hope that the vehicle you bought without a title has never been listed as stolen anywhere. 
  • The vehicle could possibly have a lien on it from a divorce settlement, or a loan which has never been paid off, etc, etc. 
  • Again, you really will have legally SOLD your vehicle to someone out of state, and you will have no way to legally force them to sell it back to you. Technically, they could sell it to someone else. Only when you legally sell your vehicle and surrender all rights to it does the new owner have the right to seek a legal title in his/her own name. 

So if you have a close friend or relative whom you trust completely living in a state which requires only Bills-of-Sale for older vehicles, it might be feasible to sell them your legally-obtained vehicle which has no title. (You may first want to find out if a friendly law enforcement person would check on the VIN, to see if it shows up on any kind of problem list. But with really old cars, they probably will not.) Then hopefully this friend or family member will sell it back to you.  

Edited by lump (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, 61polara said:

If you are in SC, laws have changed in the past couple of years.  You need to go to the DMV office and discuss the situation with them.  You will be asked to fill out a form describing how you acquired the vehicle and why there is no title with it.  A DMV officer will come out and verify the serial number and that form will be submitted to the main DMV Office in Columbia.  They will decide if your documentation is sufficient to issue a title.  

I did this exact process in Texas for two cars successfully. Received the titles in December. If you already own the car it’s worth a try. If you are thinking of buying it, you might think again unless it is from a non title state like NH and your state will convert it to a title. I also recently did that in Texas. 

 

Definately talk to someone at DMV that knows the process. You might have to speak with a few people until you find one that has experience with it. 

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1 hour ago, Frantz said:

States like Georgia are the worst because they won't issue a title even if you want to pay for one. It makes it easy to get in the car and get it on the road, just more leg work to move it to say, Pennsylvania. I moved one car from Pa to Ga and then back to PA, it never got off of it's PA title, but it was registered in Georgia for a number of years. I was glad it didn't cause me issues, but it did cause me not to buy any old cars while living there since I knew I would be moving back at some point. Even if you don't plan to move, and the state DMV won't take your title, keep it from the old owner as it will help in the future.

But is the registration the title like in NH? Although I had to bring the law in print to DMV, and they looked it up in their book, I was able to convert a NH registration to a title in TX. I am thinking most, if not all states, would have some kind of process. Of course law isn’t always what makes sense so best to check with specific states. 

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I knew a gent in Ohio, who bought a car without a title, a non running car.

He did repairs to the car, with many more repairs still on his list,  so he was no hurry to go through the title process, since the car was not yet drivable.

Once drivable, he went to the local DMV in his county in Ohio, went through the steps to get the title.

He soon discovered from the Ohio DMV that he unknowingly bought a stolen vehicle ...... he lost the money he paid for the car and the money for the repairs and, oh yes, he lost the car to the original owner, as well.

My best advise is this ...... if the car you want to buy does NOT have a VALID title and / or a Valid registration, move on to the next car.

Save yourself a lot of grief, as a bonus to yourself.

Edited by bobg1951chevy (see edit history)
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I got a title for a car i bought without a title, by using one of those "title companies" and the help of the fellow I bought it from. But there is at least a couple of different circumstances:

 

1) The person you buy the untitled car from says they are the true owner, they lost the title, and are willing to sign a notarized statement to that effect. Then there will be a new "duplicate" title issued and any previous title will be void, should any turn up in the future.

 

2) The untitled vehicle is abandoned, such as on a property that is sold, or the owner is just nowhere to be found. If the vehicle is not in the computer system you can apply for a new title. Or if it is in the system and there is an "owner of record" you can get a title by sending a certified letter to the address of the "owner of record" saying they must claim it and pay storage fees, or something to that effect, or if no response a new title can issue to the person in possession. This is how I got my title, using a "title company" who sent the registered letter, waited the appropriate time, then completed all the affiliated paperwork.

 

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/brochures/howto/htvr10

 

How To: Apply for a Duplicate California Certificate of Title (HTVR 10)

PDF Versions

You always need an:
Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) form.
You may also need:
Your driver license or identification (DL/ID) card.
A notarized lien satisfied letter or notarized Lien Satisfied/Legal Owner/Title Holder Release (REG 166) form.
A Statement of Facts (REG 256) form.
A Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form.
A Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262).
A Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (REG 138) form.
A Notice of Change of Address (DMV 14) form.
Additional documents and fees.
A duplicate title fee.
When Do I Need a Duplicate Title?
A duplicate California Certificate of Title must be obtained when the original is lost, stolen, mutilated, illegible, or not received. An Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) form, available at www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/reg/reg227.pdf, must be completed by the legal or registered owner (if no legal owner is on DMV records) and submitted with the duplicate title fee.

 

 

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2 hours ago, mike6024 said:

I got a title for a car i bought without a title, by using one of those "title companies" and the help of the fellow I bought it from. But there is at least a couple of different circumstances:

 

1) The person you buy the untitled car from says they are the true owner, they lost the title, and are willing to sign a notarized statement to that effect. Then there will be a new "duplicate" title issued and any previous title will be void, should any turn up in the future.

 

2) The untitled vehicle is abandoned, such as on a property that is sold, or the owner is just nowhere to be found. If the vehicle is not in the computer system you can apply for a new title. Or if it is in the system and there is an "owner of record" you can get a title by sending a certified letter to the address of the "owner of record" saying they must claim it and pay storage fees, or something to that effect, or if no response a new title can issue to the person in possession. This is how I got my title, using a "title company" who sent the registered letter, waited the appropriate time, then completed all the affiliated paperwork.

 

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/brochures/howto/htvr10

 

How To: Apply for a Duplicate California Certificate of Title (HTVR 10)

PDF Versions

You always need an:
Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) form.
You may also need:
Your driver license or identification (DL/ID) card.
A notarized lien satisfied letter or notarized Lien Satisfied/Legal Owner/Title Holder Release (REG 166) form.
A Statement of Facts (REG 256) form.
A Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form.
A Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262).
A Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (REG 138) form.
A Notice of Change of Address (DMV 14) form.
Additional documents and fees.
A duplicate title fee.
When Do I Need a Duplicate Title?
A duplicate California Certificate of Title must be obtained when the original is lost, stolen, mutilated, illegible, or not received. An Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) form, available at www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/reg/reg227.pdf, must be completed by the legal or registered owner (if no legal owner is on DMV records) and submitted with the duplicate title fee.

 

 

I went through a “title company” in Texas but in the end it didn’t work for my situation. Also, not all states will “bond” titles through this process. 

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3 hours ago, victorialynn2 said:

Definitely talk to someone at DMV that knows the process. You might have to speak with a few people until you find one that has experience with it. 

 

Experience is the key word.

I bought the car in my avatar last August which came from Connecticut which is non-title state but was well documented, HAD a title which in CT is only a keepsake but had a current registration.

I had considered buying a car in NY state a while ago and called the Wisconsin DMV who confirmed that only a bill of sale and the last registration certificate was all that was needed.

Once the deal on the Confederate was sealed I called the Wisconsin DMV again just to confirm things.

The guy who answered the phone got around to asking if the car came with a title to which I replied "There IS a title but it's irrelevant in CT, it's just a keepsake".

He got hung up on the title thing and nothing I was saying was sinking in....... :angry:

I wound up our conversation saying "I know what I'm going to do" to which he wished me good luck....... :P

I didn't need LUCK......I needed someone who knew what they talking about!

I did it my way without a hitch.

Do all the homework you can ON YOUR OWN before you ask anyone anything.

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delaware is pretty small, and pretty easy to get title work done, all in one day! if there is a question about ownership, the state police anti-theft unit is at the DMV 1 or 2 days a month. they will inspect it, and issue a new VIN. then you simply drive thru the inspection lane, pay your fees(about 4%) give them another 40 bucks for your tag, put it on the car, and you are good to go.

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Minnesota did not have titles until the mid 1970s. Before that a transferable registrations all there was.

It is not uncommon in the upper mid west to find a car or truck from early 1960s or older without a title.

Minnesota (and Wisconsin ) will help you get new paperwork after the numbers get checked.

Here is an example from a wrecked parts car I bought in the mid 1980s.

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The car i am looking at is in PA. I am in SC. Right now he cant find the title. When I speak to him on Friday I will tell him to go to DMV there and see if he can get one. It is a one family owned, but the older one died and left it to the younger old person. It has been sitting in a garage for years. by the way it is an original 1937 Oldsmobile L-37. Thanks for all the replies.

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It will be much easier for him to get a title then you, especially if it has been titled by them in the state in the past and he was s the executor of his will or has proof he was left the car in a will, etc. Have him talk to DMV to see what they need. Good luck!

Edited by victorialynn2 (see edit history)
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I have bought old cars without title or ownership documents. I would get a bill of sale or receipt signed by the seller. In some cases it was possible to get the last registered owner to apply for a new title. But usually I had to go to the DMV with the bill of sale and a notarized affidavit. They would check their records and if the vehicle was not registered in someone else's name or reported stolen they would issue a new title. I have not done this in several years but that is how they used to do it.

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This comes up frequently and the best advice is still to never, ever buy a car without a title or current registration if it's a registration-only state. That should be a hard line in the sand for all of us.

 

Yes, there are plenty of cars for sale that say "no title, bill of sale only" and that makes it sound OK, but it really isn't. There are plenty of guys who say, "I've done it, it's easy." But it probably isn't, not today with computers. Actually, I take that back--it's perfectly fine to buy and own a car without a title. But if you don't have a title, you can't REGISTER the car, get plates, or become the owner of record in the official databases, and you probably won't be able to insure it. There's a distinction. You can buy anything you want without a title as long as you don't expect to use it on the road. If you want static garage art, skip the whole title thing, it won't matter--until you try to sell it to someone else, but that's a different story.

 

There are some misconceptions about titles, too. There are procedures for getting a DUPLICATE title, which is a legitimate process for the CURRENT OWNER to get a copy of his current title. You can't buy a car without a title and apply for a duplicate title yourself, and certainly not in another state--you're not the owner of record. It has been my experience that if you can contact a previous owner who is the last owner of record and ask him to go get a duplicate title then sign it over to you, you might be OK. About 50% of previous owners will cooperate, the rest seem to be kooks who think you're running a scam or that they'll be busted by the IRS for selling the same car twice. Yes, people are really that stupid. But if they are the owner of record and are willing, then it should be relatively easy.

 

But if they don't have a title because the guy they got it from got it from a guy who got it from a guy who died in 1978, then you're probably out of luck. You can't get a duplicate title if the car was never in your name and without power-of-attorney from the guy who is the owner of record, nobody's getting a duplicate title. There are many cars running around with titles from decades ago where nobody ever registered the car (because everyone's a crybaby about taxes). That's about as good as having no title and it's a mistake.

 

There are "services" that can conjure titles from nothingness, but many DMVs are catching on to this process and either deny the papers coming out of these states (typically non-title states like New York, Maine, Alabama, and Georgia) or put a hold on them until more documentation can be provided. Essentially, how it works is that you "sell" your car to them, they go and register it in their state--which is a bill of sale only state--and then sell it back to you on bill of sale from that non-title state. States are typically obligated to honor documents issued by other states so they'll usually honor those bill of sale transactions as if they were good title. But not always and as I said, they're getting wise to this process and there will be scrutiny and possibly failure--you'll spend $1000 on the title service and maybe your DMV rejects it anyway. There's no guarantee that this path will be successful.

 

You seem to be dealing with an estate, which creates an additional set of problems if the person whose name is on the title is the dead one and the guy selling you the car isn't the executor of the estate. Even then, the executor might not be able to just blindly sign it without the court's approval. And EVEN THEN, the son or daughter or whomever might not be able to get a duplicate title because their name isn't on the papers and that's just how the DMV is. It might be easy and I recommend that they give it a try, but there can be unforeseen hurdles that involve paperwork, ownership trails, and legal processes, all of which will make it more difficult for you to finish the process. And DO NOT, under any circumstances, give them money with an assurance that they will "take care of it and send you the title later." The minute it gets too hard for them, you're SOL and have no recourse. DO NOT DO IT.

 

The very best advice is to never, ever buy a car without a title unless it's something priceless and unique. You find a Bugatti Type 35 at the bottom of a lake in Europe, sure, go ahead, someone will figure it out. A 1937 Oldsmobile sedan? Pass.  Never, ever, ever buy a car without a title because it will cause you all kinds of headaches. Even if you don't care about titles and registration and just plan to buy some used YOM plates off eBay and drive it around illegally, the guy after you will want a title and it will render the car virtually impossible to sell later unless you can find another sucker. I don't care how cheap it is or how much you want it, if they can't get current, signed, official papers that your DMV will accept, you absolutely should not buy it. Once you haul that thing out of their driveway, everything from then on out is 100% YOUR problem, and if they decide to stop cooperating, what then? Papers first, then purchase. Otherwise walk away and find a different car.

 

Buying a car without a title is a big risk to take.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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25 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I have bought old cars without title or ownership documents. I would get a bill of sale or receipt signed by the seller. In some cases it was possible to get the last registered owner to apply for a new title. But usually I had to go to the DMV with the bill of sale and a notarized affidavit. They would check their records and if the vehicle was not registered in someone else's name or reported stolen they would issue a new title. I have not done this in several years but that is how they used to do it.

It’s not that simple in most states anymore. I inherited three cars with title issues. I researched processes in Oregon and Texas. Oregon wouldn’t touch it. I was very lucky to get it resolved in Texas and it took me over 1 1/2 years and talking to many people. I went through the bonding process only to find out I couldn’t do that with my POA, etc. I didn’t think I’d get it done after talking to the regional DMV manager, but was lucky in the end, found the right person at DMV who had the answers, and found a legal way. It could have just as easily not have happened. The tenacity it took was ridiculous. The hours it took would not have been worth it if I had bought the cars. 

 

I agree with Matt, I’d never buy a car with no title. 

Edited by victorialynn2 (see edit history)
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Sometime you can get lucky.  I bought a Dodge pickup in the Okanagan Valley.  It had no title but a copy of the last registration (20 years earlier).  The man I bought it from got it from a man who towed it from a friend's orchard (with permission).  I went to the local MV office, the clerk looked at my registration form and said why didn't I get the last registered owner to sign the transfer papers.  I had no idea where he was, it was just a name on a piece of paper.  The agent gave me a blank transfer form and the address of the care facility where the  man lived.  I went over and chatted with him, he signed my form and the next week I went back and took him for a ride in his old truck.  We did a partial restoration and gave him another ride when it was finished.  Some days you just luck out.

My advice is the only way to get correct information is to have all the paper you can get and talk to the oldest person at the counter when you go to ask to speak to someone higher up the ladder.

Good luck

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On 2/28/2018 at 8:02 AM, Restorer32 said:

Never buy a car with no title if you live in PA. It is impossible to obtain a PA title without petitioning the court.  Figure a year and $750 or so attorney's fees. No, you cannot do it yourself. 

 

I'm in SE PA and am even having trouble finding an attorney to handle it, even with me accept the time and expense.  The one guy I've heard of in Harrisburg, Bryan Shook, declined to handle anything here in Chester County.


Steve

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On 2/28/2018 at 10:08 AM, cheezestaak2000 said:

delaware is pretty small, and pretty easy to get title work done, all in one day! if there is a question about ownership, the state police anti-theft unit is at the DMV 1 or 2 days a month. they will inspect it, and issue a new VIN. then you simply drive thru the inspection lane, pay your fees(about 4%) give them another 40 bucks for your tag, put it on the car, and you are good to go.

 

What happens when its time to title that car in another state?  Are they ok with that delaware-issued VIN?

 

Steve

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Other states should honor a state-issued VIN, but bear in mind that you're going to take a hit in value on a car wearing a state-assigned VIN rather than its original VIN. Not quite as bad as a salvage title, but buyers will be very skittish about what happened and why the VIN had to be reassigned. There's also the potential that the title will now reflect the new VIN and, subsequently, model year. For instance, we had a '34 Ford where the owner lost the title. He thought it was no big deal, went down to his DMV where they assigned him a new VIN and gave him a new title. Great! The problem was that his lovely 1934 Ford (not a plastic hot rod) was now a 2013 Homebuilt, not a 1934 Ford on the title. There was a pretty big hit in terms of market value just because of that and some buyers wouldn't even touch it because of that.

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46 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Other states should honor a state-issued VIN, but bear in mind that you're going to take a hit in value on a car wearing a state-assigned VIN rather than its original VIN. Not quite as bad as a salvage title, but buyers will be very skittish about what happened and why the VIN had to be reassigned. There's also the potential that the title will now reflect the new VIN and, subsequently, model year. For instance, we had a '34 Ford where the owner lost the title. He thought it was no big deal, went down to his DMV where they assigned him a new VIN and gave him a new title. Great! The problem was that his lovely 1934 Ford (not a plastic hot rod) was now a 2013 Homebuilt, not a 1934 Ford on the title. There was a pretty big hit in terms of market value just because of that and some buyers wouldn't even touch it because of that.

 

I have seen the same thing. A local gentleman bought a Ford Model A with a state assigned vin. He couldn't get historical license plates and had a very hard time getting collector car insurance. In the eyes of the law it was a new homemade car.

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3 hours ago, Steve Ford said:

 

I'm in SE PA and am even having trouble finding an attorney to handle it, even with me accept the time and expense.  The one guy I've heard of in Harrisburg, Bryan Shook, declined to handle anything here in Chester County.


Steve

I couldn’t find one in Texas either. I finally sent in all the paperwork I had for two automobiles, because I needed a rejection to proceed. I was going to represent myself, however I got lucky and they approved them based in the deputy vin inspection reports and the paper trail I had. 

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If you are lucky enough to be in New York it is quite simple to get plates and a transferable registration on a vehicle with zero paperwork . You first go to your insurance agent and get an insurance card. Then take photos of vin numbers and odometer reading.  You fill out a statement of facts regarding circumstances of acquisition like I bought it at a swap meet or a garage sale etc 10 years ago and now its ready for the road. You walk out of the DMV with a licence plate a 10 day inspection sticker and a non transferable registration. After 90 days you get the transferable  registration in the mail unless they find it was reported stolen. I have brought several vintage motorcycles back from Europe with zero paperwork and never have had a problem. My buddy did this with a vintage corvette with no papers. If the vehicle is newer it gets a title but in NY titles didnt happen until the early 70's I think. A transferable registration is recognized as a title in title only states. 

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