How to Buy a Motorcycle Without a Title

ATTENTION: Be prepared to satisfy any insurance requirements when you register & title your motorcycle.

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Can you buy a motorcycle without a title?

Should you walk away from a used motorcycle with no title?

Not necessarily.

While registering and titling a bike in your name is going to be more difficult when you buy it without a title, there are still some options.

The bottom line is, yes, you can buy a motorcycle without a title if you want.

Buying a Motorcycle without a Title

Buying a motorcycled without a title does come with a few extra steps and challenges, but isn’t a total deal breaker.

Motorcycles without a title are often cheaper than bikes with titles. Getting them titled and registered is not impossible, and if you can’t, you can always use it as a parts bike.

The main thing you’ll need to consider when buying a no-title motorcycle is whether or not it’s stolen.

You can do this by contacting local law enforcement or running a VIN check.

If the VIN comes back clean, that’s good news, but you’re not out of the woods just yet. You’ll still need to take some steps to register and title the bike.

Each state has a slightly different process for registering and titling no-title motorcycles.

Some states make it fairly easy, while others make it a total PITA.

How to Get a Title for a Motorcycle Bought With No Title

You’ve got a few main options when it comes to getting a title for a no-title motorcycle.

  1. Work with the seller to either locate the existing title (dig through old paperwork, contact relatives) or have them apply for a duplicate title through the DMV.
    • Apply for a duplicate title typically involves filling out an application, providing some details about the bike and registration, and paying a fee.
  2. Try to register the bike directly through your state DMV.
    • With the Bill of Sale, old registration documents, and any other old ownership documents the seller can provide (old Bill of Sale, old registration cards, etc.), you may be able to complete the process directly through the DMV with no further hassle.
    • If you’re able to do this, you can fill out a new application, have the DMV complete a VIN inspection, and pay your registration, tax, and title fees.
  3. If all of the above fails, you can see if registering the bike in Vermont will work for you.
    • Vermont (any a few other states) does not issues titles for motorcycles older than 15 years old or under 300cc.
    • You can mail in your application and you do not need to be a resident of the state.

Getting a Title for an Old Barn Find Motorcycle

If you’ve found the perfect barn find motorcycle, chances of the owner having a title are usually pretty slim.

Barn find motorcycles are often sold by people who have purchased the property with the motorcycle already on it. In many cases, they will have absolutely no clue about the bike or previous owner’s history or information.

In the case of a barn find motorcycle, your best bet for getting a title will be option 2 or 3 as described above.

What to do if you can’t title your motorcycle?

If you’ve exhausted all your options and simply can’t get a title for the bike, it’s a bummer.

This is especially true if you’ve already spent the time and money restoring it.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to determine if you can register and title the no-title bike before you put time and resources into it.

If you can’t title the motorcycle, it can still be useful.

You can use the un-titleable bike as a parts bike or doner bike for the same model bike you can title and register.