Did the Clerk Make Off with My Much-Needed Original Title?
November 2, 2016 2:39 AM   Subscribe

I moved to Washington state recently and went in to register my vehicle. They gave me a 'Vehicle Title Application/Registration Certificate' but took my old and original title from my home state, was I supposed to retain that old title for my records?

I have no idea how all of this clerical stuff works and frankly find it tedious and irritating. I moved from out of state and went in yesterday to get a new license (and they gave me a temporary license). I then went to my county auditor to register my vehicle. I paid what seemed like a semi unreasonable amount to register my vehicle and get what I think might be a new title, although it says 'Reg Expiration 11/01/2017' so I have no idea if this thing is just an application and not an actual title, or what. It's on security paper like my last title. Why would the clerk not tell me that I needed to use the certificate to apply for a new title, instead of just handing it to me and taking my old title? Why didn't she just process the application then and there since I obviously need a replacement title? I even produced the pay off documentation from the original creditor, and had a clear title from my old state that she took. At the bottom it states 'this document is not proof of ownership' wtf? There is no lien, I've owned my car for years. There are no spots for signatures and transfers of ownership like on my old title, so I assume I have to go back into the county auditor's office to get a new title. Any input?
posted by Avosunspin to Law & Government (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Also I didn't receive any small certificates of vehicle registration that I would need to present to an officer in the event of being pulled over, I assume in WA they are small paper cards like in my previous state?
posted by Avosunspin at 3:47 AM on November 2, 2016

I moved to Texas a year ago. When I registered my vehicle, they took my old title and I got a Texas title. So surrendering it was part of the process in TX at least. I forget if they mailed me the new title or just gave it to me at DMV.
posted by jclarkin at 4:39 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know about the title but I wouldn't assume you'll get a registration card - in my state the registration is just a plain black-and-white printed sheet of letter paper.
posted by mskyle at 4:40 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Found this:


"Titling your vehicle and registering are the same process in Washington, so both will be completed at the same time."
posted by jclarkin at 4:40 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Washington state resident here...a registration simply tells the state that you have registered your car and paying the fees. A title is ownership of the car. no, you will not receive a small certificate version of your registration. I just fold up my original registration and keep it in the glove compartment along with my insurance info card. Registrations need to be renewed yearly and you also will get new tabs every year along with a reminder if you need to do emissions testing.

Your new title will be mailed to you separately and likely arrive in three or four weeks. I keep that in a safe place away from the car.

Hope this helps.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 4:55 AM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I just registered and re-titled my car in Michigan. I got the registration immediately (and it's been a full 8.5x11 sheet of paper in some states I've lived in), but they took my old titles from other states and gave me a receipt for the application for new title. New titles for the cars came via mail in around 2 weeks. Doesn't sound to me like anything odd is happening here.
posted by LionIndex at 5:00 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Same experience here in NY state.

Old title taken, new registration and plates given at DMV, NYS title came in mail later.
posted by Gev at 5:36 AM on November 2, 2016

States insist that you re-title upon moving so that they can collect the taxes when you sell, and to simplify record-keeping (for them, not for you). They insist on your surrendering the old title so that you can't sell it twice. It's standard.
posted by ubiquity at 6:48 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Having two titles out there for one vehicle could lead to a lot of confusion and possibly fraud. So, only one title at a time, please.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:54 AM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

A title is an official document that they print on fancy paper and for some reason takes forever (a few weeks) to process. You will get it in the mail. You need to give them your old title to get your new title. This sounds normal and the normal level of annoying. You can call the auditor's office (I'd always done this stuff at the DMV I think) and ask them how long the waiting period is.
posted by jessamyn at 7:07 AM on November 2, 2016

The paper they gave you is the registration. You keep that in the vehicle for when you get pulled over and the officer asks for "license and registration, please," along with your insurance card.

The new title will show up in the mail in about 6-8 weeks (faster my last time, but sometimes slower, too).
posted by Dip Flash at 7:12 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also remember living in a state, maybe Maryland, were the state holds the title if there is a lien on the vehicle. Once the lien is released then you are sent the physical title.
posted by tman99 at 8:08 AM on November 2, 2016

I also remember living in a state, maybe Maryland, were the state holds the title if there is a lien on the vehicle.

Also the case in California and Wisconsin.
posted by LionIndex at 8:24 AM on November 2, 2016

Your fees at the liscensing agent seemed high because your annual registration will only be about 50 bucks. Welcome to TimEymanland.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:49 AM on November 2, 2016

Also, if they didn't warn you, sign the registration! The ticket for it not being signed if you are pulled over is surprisingly expensive in Washington State.
posted by monopas at 5:58 PM on November 2, 2016

I received my title in the mail weeks later and the document I received in person the day of was the registration as you guys mentioned, and I did sign it! Although the witness signature which I assume was supposed to be the woman at the clerk's desk, is not there :|
posted by Avosunspin at 11:09 PM on March 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

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