Documentation for Buying a Car

When you buy a car, there’s a lot of paperwork that everyone has to deal with. Below is a description of the various documentation types involving the sale of an auto.

Registration:  The registration paperwork describes who the auto is registered to at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  The registration also describes the make and model of the car and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). In order to register a vehicle for a private sale, you will need to provide identification, proof of residency, proof of vehicle ownership, proof of auto insurance, and emissions (if applicable). There will also be fees and taxes.   Visit  for more information.

Auto title: The title is a legal document which states who owns the car or auto.  However, if you have financed your car, you do not receive the title right away, because you actually have not paid for the car in full.  The person or company who lent you the money to purchase the car will hold what is called the Lien Title.

Lien Title: If you have financed your car, then there will be a Lien title, which means that the company that financed your vehicle purchase has legal claim on the property.  The lien assures the lender that if payments are not made as agreed for the loan, the lender has the right to take possession of the auto and sell it to minimize their losses.

Lienholder:  The lienholder is the person or company that holds the lien on your auto until your auto is paid off.

Lien release:  Once your loan is paid in full and your obligations to your lender are complete, a lien release is issued.  Then the title is signed over to you and you own the property, your auto, free and clear.


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