California Vehicle Title Search

Name Phone Number License Plate VIN
Name Phone Number License Plate VIN

How To Run A California Vehicle Title Search

A California vehicle title search is an easy online process that is typically run on used vehicle to find out if there the vehicle title is clean and there are no lien holders still on the title. CA vehicle title searches are often times part of a vehicle history report where you can also find out the history of the used vehicle including accidents, recalls and previous owner information. The intent for most people that run these types of reports are to uncover any potential issues when purchasing a used car, truck suv or motorcycle. It’s a best practice procedure that only cost a few bucks, but it can uncover any issues that might not be known or disclosed by the previous vehicle owner. If there is a lien holder on a vehicle or the title is salvaged, it might be very difficult to register the vehicle with the California DMV as well as getting the title information transferred over to the new owner’s name.

Information Included on a California Vehicle Title

  1. The owner’s name and address
  2. The vehicle’s year, make and model
  3. The date the vehicle was first sold
  4. Vehicle identification number
  5. License plate number
  6. California vehicle title issue date
  7. Release of Interest section at the bottom of the title

California Vehicle TitleHow to Transfer a California Vehicle Title

The transfer of a California vehicle title is very simple if you have the physical title in your possession. The previous owner will sign the bottom of the title, as well as the new owner. The purchase price and date of the vehicle must be included as well as the mileage and the “Release of Interest” section that should be mailed in by the previous owner. The Release of Interest, aka The Release of Liability, can also be filled out online through the California DMV website. This is a very important step because if there is an accident or a situation the vehicle is involved in and the release of liability form was not sent in, it will leave the previous owner open for getting sued or being liable for any damages that were incurred. Another good procedure when transferring the California vehicle title is to have a bill of sale and to also make sure to have the condition of the vehicle listed on both the title and bill of sale. Most of the time that a vehicle is sold, especially without an existing warranty, the vehicle condition will be listed “As-Is” which means that what you see is what you get and there are no guarantees by the original owner.

How to Get a Duplicate California Vehicle Title

If you visit the DMV website and you select the “Vehicle Registration” tab, you will select the “Application For a Duplicate Title” form (# Reg227). You can download the form in a PDF format, fill out the form with your full name and address as it’s listed on your registration, your driver’s license number and any additional information you have. Then you can mail in the duplicate vehicle title form to the California DMV with the appropriate fee for the duplicate title. Please note that when you apply for a duplicate California vehicle title, the original title is cancelled and null and void. Processing may take a few weeks and your duplicate CA vehicle title will be mailed to the address listed on file unless you request to have it sent to another address

California Vehicle Title Search - FAQs

Can I run a free California vehicle title search?

It will usually cost you around $20 to run a California vehicle title search and vehicle history report on a used car, truck, SUV or motorcycle. You will need to have your vehicle's 17 digit vehicle identification number to run a CA vehicle title search.

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Responses to “California Vehicle Title Search

  1. Yuichi Ishitomi says:


    I live in Japan and own a Corvette C3 imported from the US.

    My English is not very good.

    The VIN on the plate on the pillar of the car is 194379S737315.
    I looked it up and found that the vehicle has been smog checked in California on July 18, 1997.

    However, the vehicle has a frame VIN 194371S108809 February 4, 1971. The exterior and interior are also 1971, so the pillar plates may be from another vehicle. I am not sure if the rivets are original either.

    If they are illegal, some people might be sad to see this car go.
    I am thinking that it may have been obtained illegally from the previous owner.

    I love the car, but if there are people who will be sad to lose this car, that is hard for me.

    I am waiting for your reply.


    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Yuchi, try running a California vehicle history report on this Chevrolet Corvette to find out more information. It’s peculiar that there are 2 different VIN numbers listed for the vehicle

  2. sabrina says:

    what if the vin is a shorter in because the car is from the 50s

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      If your California vehicle has a VIN that is shorter than 17 digits then we will not be able to run this for you unfortunately. You might want to contact your local California DMV office to inquire about the vehicle identification information you’re interested in.

  3. Maureen Leonard says:

    I am trying to transfer (gift) deceased husband’s motorcycle. I provided the DMV with the required forms (death certifcate, etc) to put the vehicle in my name. They gave me a PNO-reg deferred receipt. The bill of sale is lost.

    What do I need to do to get the “bill of sale” and transfer to the new owner? Do I need to pay full registration as an operational vehicle before transferring? that does not make sense as the new owner will have to pay registration fees again.

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Maureen, the bill of sale is not always need when transferring the title of a motorcycle or vehicle. A good place to find out exactly what you need is your local California DMV. You can visit an office or try reaching them by phone, there is usually a long waiting time for this option. Here is a link to our Free California DMV Finder to assist you with finding the closest DMV to your location

  4. Kyle Burgess says:

    My brother recently passed away and I cannot find the title to his truck in order to transfer ownership. How do I request a duplicate title?

  5. Dana G Schoen says:

    I owned a Model A between 1980 and 1987 or so (In California of course). Sadly, I had to sell the car. I was hoping there would be a way to retrieve the cars VIN, in order to trace is whereabouts. The only info I have is my name and the Calif plate number from 1981. Is there any hope?

  6. Paul says:

    Hello I have a car that was originally from California and is now in Ontario Canada. Is it possible to find out the history of who previously owned the car.

    This car is a 65 GTO

  7. Robert J Turrini says:

    I am looking for the pink slip for my deceased father’s 1951 Jeep Willy’s Overland. My sister threw out the pink and the Willy’s Overland has not been registered in years. Can any body help me with find who owner the Jeep that my father has stored over the years.

  8. Gregg Elkins says:

    Trying to see if my 1939 chevy 2 door sedan is still in California. The Vin number when I sold in kansas is NEBR001421. Can you help

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Gregg, unfortunately we will not be able to obtain that California car title information with a VIN that is less than 17 digits. You might want to reach out to the California DMV directly about your inquiry

  9. bruce says:

    i am trying to get the license plate that came with this van I had the plates changed some time ago and know I need to find out what was the old plate numbers.

  10. Keith MI Vo says:

    Hi, I was wonder buy a 1974 Ford PK classic from someone carfax unable to check history VIN F1DGRU63481 plate number 69978X . I wondering if this car is legal?

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Keith, you will want to contact the California DMV directly about your inquiry. Unfortunately we cannot weigh in on this vehicle as our car title search resources will only be able to access information about vehicles that have 17 digits in their vehicle identification number

  11. Lori Sprague says:

    In buying a RV the current owner (has pink slip) but not in his name as he never tranferred it and the current reg is not current and isnt the same name as the pink slip/// how should I proceed and what will it require for me to get all paperwork right??? I have bill of sale and out dated reg. and pink slip.??? Thanks

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Lori, in this situation it’s best to contact your local California DMV directly about what to do. There is most likely a procedure and a precedence for this situation. You might want to contact them before making this RV purchase

  12. Peter Gallagher says:

    Trying to track any information about my 1957 Chevrolet truck.
    I can provide serial/chassis number if required
    It was built at Los Angeles plant, but that’s about as much as I know about it.
    Probably a long shot, but worth a try, thanks in advance

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Peter, you can run a vehicle history report through our system if your Chevy truck has a 17 digit vehicle identification number. You will need read through our terms of search first and then you have the option to run a California vehicle history report for a nominal fee.

  13. john vinkler says:

    checking history of vehicle,1979 dodge dart swinger when purchased to where it landed later in life

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      John, how may we assist you with your California vehicle title search?

  14. Misti says:

    I have a California title for a 1950 HD and California put in the Vehicle ID Number as a 8 digit number. Can you explain what that number is? To my understanding this was a police motorcycle back in the day. It has the motorcycle engine number on it also. Back in 1950 the engine number was the vin number.

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Mitsi, that is a very old vintage California vehicle and unfortunately we only have records that go back for the last 30 years. You can contact the California DMV directly about your inquiry. They should be able to better assist you

  15. Darren B Hunter says:

    I need my title you have not sent it why?

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Darren, you need to contact the California DMV directly about the status of your CA trailer title

  16. Carlos Elizalde says:

    I purchased a vehicle without the title in tijuana Mexico. How can i get a copy title for export only.

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Carlos, you will need to contact the motor vehicle department in Mexico if it was titled and registered there. Unfortunately our resources can only assist you with looking up a California car title

  17. Heriberto Arista Valadez says:

    Hi, i purchase a Toyota Avalon 2000, whichs was imported to Tijuana, Mexico. For getting new plates i. MÉXICO, transportation authorities(like DMV) are asking me to show the Certificate of Title, which I do not have. Is it possible a duplicate because the original is lost

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Herberto, you can obtain a duplicate California car title by contacting the California DMV. You can also visit their website and order a duplicate title online through their web portal. You will need to register for an account and then fill out the forms to get a duplicate CA car title. There will be a nominal fee and a copy can be mailed to you

  18. Enes dzaferagic says:

    Hi. I purchased a vehicle in the state of Wisconsin from the owner.
    She never did title the vehicle when she moved to from California. I am having troubles reaching her. How can I obtain the title from California.

    Please help

    1. squarryadministrator says:

      Enes, this is not an uncommon situation where the vehicle title was lost or the vehicle title was never received. You will want to contact the California DMV directly about this situation and fill out the forms to obtain a duplicate California vehicle title and you will also need to present your bill of sale and any other information that proves you purchased this vehicle. Also be prepared to fill our an affidavit which is a legal binding document that you legally purchased this vehicle from the previous owner.

Author: squarryadministrator
Last Updated: 2020-09-02

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