A California Certificate of Title is an official document that identifies the legal owner of a vehicle and contains important vehicle identification information.
In addition to identifying the owner of a vehicle, a California Certificate of Title is an official source of information about the vehicle. A title may include:
- Registered owner’s name and address
- Vehicle identification information, including vehicle identification number (VIN), make, model, and year
- Odometer mileage
- Registration date
- Lienholder’s name and information (if there is money owed on the vehicle)
- Title brands, if any (see Branded Titles, below)
In This Section
Title Transfers and Changes
Anytime a vehicle/vessel is bought or sold, or there’s any change to the registered owner or lienholder (legal owner), the California Certificate of Title needs to be transferred to the new owner. Additionally, titles are legal documents so it’s important to keep them accurate and up-to-date.
Learn more about title transfers and changes
Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (NRL)
After you sell or transfer your vehicle/vessel to another party, you have five days to submit a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (NRL). This notifies DMV that ownership of the vehicle has changed and protects you from liability.
Submit an NRL
Brands identify significant information about a vehicle’s history and are given to vehicles with damage, high mileage, chronic problems, etc. It’s particularly important to keep an eye out for the “salvaged” brand. This indicates that the vehicle experienced significant damage at some point and may not be safe to drive.
Learn about branded titles
Rush Title Processing
If you need us to expedite your title processing, you can request rush title processing for an additional fee. You can request this service for initial vehicle registration, transfer of ownership, or to obtain a duplicate California Certificate of Title.
Learn how to request rush title processing
Find Your Financial Institution
Do you need help finding the lienholder on your vehicle title? We keep a listing of banks, credit unions, and financial/lending institutions that may have gone out of business, merged, changed their name, or been acquired by another financial institution.
Get help finding your financial institution