How To Run a Motorcycle Title Search

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

How Do I Run A Title Search On A Motorcycle?

A motorcycle title search is the same as a running a vehicle title search, you will need the motorcycle VIN to begin. The motorcycle VIN should be 17 digits that are alpha-numeric, this can be easily found on your motorcycle registration card and neck of the motorcycle, as well as the engine on newer motorcycles. Then you will want to obtain a vehicle history report for the motorcycle, which will cost a few bucks but well worth it. This report will tell you if the vehicle title is clean, salvaged, junked, recalled and if there are any liens on the vehicle. If you’re purchasing a used motorcycle and the person selling it to you isn’t on the title, then the motorcycle might still have a bank owned lien on it. It’s also a good idea to make sure before you make a purchase on a used motorcycle that you verify the seller is the owner. You can simply ask to see their driver’s license or ID, there are a lot of scams out there to watch out for and buying a stolen motorcycle is a real concern. According to a 2022 NCIB report, motorcycle thefts are up 26% in from the previous year, it’s better to check before you buy or you may be out of a lot of money.

Common Motorcycle Title Issues To Look Out For

There are several motorcycle title brands that you should look out for when purchasing a used one. These can be found by running a Motorcycle title search or by looking at the actual title on the vehicle before you make your purchase. If the title status is anything but clean, then you might be buying something that has significant issues and is not worth the listed price of the used bike. Below are some of the title brand issues to look out for:

  • Junk 
  • Revived Junk 
  • Salvaged 
  • Revived Salvaged 
  • Totaled 
  • Damaged 
  • Dismantled 
  • Gray market 
  • Lemon Law 
  • Prior Police Use 
  • Prior Taxi Use 
  • Rebuilt Motorcycle 
  • Reconditioned 
  • Remanufactured 
  • Replica Motorcycle 
  • Scrap Motorcycle 
  • Warranty returned 
  • Water damage 

How To Lookup A Motorcycle VIN

You can lookup a motorcycle VIN number the same way you would check any other registered vehicle, with a simple VIN decoder. You can also use the motorcycle vehicle identification number to run a vehicle history report, which is a good idea if you’re purchasing a used motorcycle. This is essentially the same as running a motorcycle title search. This will give you the lien holder, if a loan is out on the vehicle, how many previous owners of that motorcycle, accidents and recalls and safety issues. Another useful government website that will help you learn more about a motorcycle is This will show you all known safety and recall notices for your motorcycle, all you need to do is enter your 17 digit motorcycle VIN.

Where Is The VIN Number On A Motorcycle?

The VIN number on a motorcycle is located on the steering neck, the engine and sometimes the transmission as well. If you turn the handlebars to the left and look on the right side of the motorcycle frame you should see the metal tag with the VIN number on it. If you cannot find it there then it might also be located on the motorcycle motor. The easiest way to find your motorcycle VIN number is to look on your registration card, motorcycle title or motorcycle insurance card. If all else fails then you can use a service, like, and lookup your 17 digit VIN by your license plate number.

Motorcycle Title Search

Find Out If Your Motorcycle Has Any Recalls

You can find out if your motorcycle has any recalls or safety issues by using the free government resource, This free resources is federally run safety resources for the public to find out if their vehicle has any reported recalls or safety concerns. This can prove to be very useful when purchasing a used motorcycle, knowing this information before you make your purchase can save you a lot of frustration down the road. Another great government resource, that is not free but very informative, is This resource will provide you with the history of a motorcycle as well as a NMVTIS report which will protect you from fraud and buying a stolen vehicle.

How To Buy a Motorcycle Without a Title

There is a path to follow when buying a motorcycle without a title but you will want to verify a few things before making this purchase. You will need to verify a few pieces of information before you can legally register the motorcycle in any state. If you are willing to take that risk, understand the term caveat emptor, and follow these simple steps: 

  1. Verify the motorcycle with the vehicle identification number (VIN). You can do this by running a VIN check or vehicle history report which will tell you if the title is clean and if there are any lien holders still on it. 
  2. Ask for the current or previous registration card so that you can verify that the motorcycle was indeed registered to the person selling it to you. It can serve as a form of ownership document. 
  3. Get a bill of sale from the seller which should include the sellers information as well as the date, and description of the motorcycle and your name and signatures from both you and the seller. 
  4. You may need to sign an affidavit with the motor vehicle department which is a binding document from you stating that you are the new owner of the vehicle and there was no title available at the time of purchase. Most states will require this before issuing a motorcycle title transfer to you. 
  5. Obtain a bonded title if it is an option which basically protects you from previous lien holders or owners to come after the motorcycle at a later date. It’s a good insurance policy to protect you from someone else claiming your bike. 
  6. If it’s a possibility you can also ask the seller to request a duplicate copy of the motorcycle title before buying it from them. That way you have the original title document that will make your title transfer a whole lot easier. The only caveat to this is you may need to wait several weeks before a new title is issued and mailed out.  
  7. If it’s an expensive motorcycle or a vintage bike that is worth a lot of money, you may also want to consult with an attorney to make sure you’re doing everything correctly. There are a lot of fraudulent sales that happen every day in the United States with used vehicle sales and it’s a good idea to spend a few bucks on some legal advice before handing over a bunch of cash. 

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Motorcycle Title Check By State

How to Get a Motorcycle Title With Only a Bill of Sale

  1. Go to your state’s DMV website and read the requirements to transfer a motorcycle title
  2. Download the vehicle transfer form and fill out as much information as possible
  3. Provide a bill of sale and any additional documentation you received from the seller
  4. Visit a DMV branch in person to expedite the motorcycle title transfer to your name

Motorcycle Title Search - FAQs

Can I run a motorcycle title search for free?

You can run a motorcycle vin search for free using resources like however, a motorcycle title search will cost a few bucks. A motorcycle title search is the same as running a vehicle history report and those are typically not free.

Where is the VIN number on my motorcycle?

On most motorcycles the VIN number, or vehicle identification number, can be found on the neck of the motorcycle under the handlebars. Turn your handlebars to one side and look for the VIN tag that is attached to neck.

How do I get a copy of my motorcycle title?

You can get a copy of your motorcycle title by contacting the DMV directly. You can order one through their website as long as none of your information has changed. The new motorcycle title will be mailed to the address listed on the original title.

How do I check if a motorcycle was stolen?

You can quickly check to see if a motorcycle was stolen by getting the 17 digit VIN and checking with the NCIB, DMV, your local police department, or even your auto insurance company. If the motorcycle was reported stolen then there will be a record of this.

How to get a lost motorcycle title?

It's easy to get a duplicate title for your motorcycle by contacting your state DMV. You can typically do this online by visiting your state's DMV website and filling out the form for a duplicate motorcycle title. There will be a nominal fee and the new motorcycle title will be mailed to the address on record.

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Responses to “How To Run a Motorcycle Title Search

  1. says:

    I am considering purchasing a Harley Davidson XL883C – the VIN number 5HD4CP2179K442158 indicates it was manufactured in Missouri USA in 2009 before being shipped to Europe at some stage although there is no history until 2015

    I am concerned it may have been written off prior to being sent to Europe and am hoping to discover information with regards the bike’s history while in the USA ?

    Anything you can do to assist would be very much appreciated – the bike seems too good to be true ! How would I go about contacting the DMV please?

  2. says:

    Michael, you will need to reach out to your local DMV to inquire what is need to title and register this Honda motorcycle in your name. You can use our Free DMV Finder to locate a DMV office near you

  3. says:

    hello my name is Stephanie, my dad bought a motorcycle went to the DMV and the vin number was alterated. how can i proceed with this situation.

  4. says:

    Hi I purchased the bike with only 10 digit Vin and only a bill of sale with no title on a barn find what can I do to register it? its a 1980s GL 1100 Honda I can’t find no information on it

  5. says:

    Melissa, it is sometimes possible to obtain a VIN number with a license plate search. Then once you have the VIN, you can run a vehicle history report on the motorcycle to find out the status of the title

  6. says:

    How do I run a title search on my father’s motorcycle without the vin number

  7. says:

    William, you will need the full VIN in order to run a motorcycle title check

  8. says:

    My cycles vin is CL450-4113560

    It’s a 1970-1973 CL450 Honda

    Trying to ascertain it it was stolen

  9. says:

    Rich, you will want to consult with the DMV directly about how to register a motorcycle from another state that hasn’t been registered in 20 years. You can use our Free DMV Finder to locate an office near you

  10. says:

    Bought a bike hasn’t been registered in 20 years and its from cali i live in pa

  11. says:

    Robert, you can contact your local North Carolina DMV to inquire what you will need for this motorcycle purchase so you can change the title into your name.

  12. says:

    HI, my son has just got into riding and i was gonna help him buy a bike. We responded to an ad on facebook, and went to look at the bike. My son loved the bike. We agreed on a price, but we didn’t have the money on us, we agreed to come back the next day. He then told us the previous owners name was on the title, not his. And that person is from another state. Like a dummy i gave him a hundred bucks as a deposit to hold it. We both signed a piece of paper stating that if i don’t pay for the bike in full he got to keep the deposit. We live in NC, and i don’t know what i should do. Any help would be appreciated.

  13. says:

    I am trying to find out if it is ok to buy a 1971 Suzuki 250ts it only has 12 characters in the vin your search and others say nothing found

  14. says:

    Nancy, you will need to rely on the police to find this motorcycle. Unless there is a GPS tracking device on the motorcycle it’s impossible to know where it is unless someone tries to register it

  15. says:

    My daughter inherited her Father\’s Motorcycle. Just months after His passing, it was stolen. A report was made with local authorities however the case was dropped due to the thief having a copy of the bikes title signed by her Father. We still possess the title. Even though they knew she had a copy. They dropped the ball so many times. My question is how can I try to locate this bike?

  16. says:

    Randy, you will need to contact your local Motor Vehicle Department to order a copy of your motorcycle title. You can do this online by downloading and mailing in the proper forms. If you let us know what state you live in we can send you a link

  17. says:

    need title for c CB 550-1011041

  18. says:

    Scott, you might want to file an appeal with the FLHSMV in FLorida to see about getting the motorcycle registered but as far as the title goes, that is a good question. Our VIN search requires you to have 17 digits on your vehicle identification number and older vehicles have fewer than 17 digits which we do not have in our vehicle database resources. It would seem that the Arizona DOT would have a precedence for this situation as it’s not that uncommon for people to lose or misplace their motorcycle titles, especially on older bikes. The only advise we can offer is to keep trying to find some information to reference that you can give the Arizona DOT and try talking to a different person if your initial contact did not resolve this for you. It’s their specific job to manage all the vehicle titles and registrations for the state of Arizona so we can certainly understand your frustration. Best of luck Scott!

  19. says:

    My brother cannot find the title for his 1964 Harley Davidson. He knows the Identification Number butbit does not have 17 numbers and so no one seems to be able to help. It was last registered in Tucson, Arizona in 1982. We contacted the DMV in Tucson but they claim that in 1982 everything was paper only and not on any computer. Is there any other way to get this resolved? We now live in Florida and the bike has been repaired and is now ready to license.

  20. says:

    Kalani, if you have the bill of sale you can transfer the motorcycle title without having the receiving he original motorcycle title. This is fairly common. If you don’t have the bill of sale then you will need to visit the DMV in person and inquire what steps you need to take in order to get the motorcycle title transferred to you. You most likely need to sign an affidavit stating everything you said is true, which is a legal binding document that the DMV typically requires in these situations where someone has lost or not received the motorcycle title

Last Updated: 2023-02-24

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