How Can I Get a Title for an Old Motorcycle?
Driven by a struggling economy, vintage motorcycles have been gaining in popularity as many non-motorcyclists search for a way to save on transportation costs. While some of these vintage motorcycles have been restored and maintained over the years, many have sat silently in the corner of a dark shed or garage for decades, often selling for a little more than a song to an astute buyer. However, owners of these older bikes often have difficulty finding the title, making the registration and titling process nearly impossible for the new owner.
Get the Police Involved
Before making the decision to purchase the motorcycle, contact your local Police Department for verification of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Although it may seem a bit extreme, taking this extra measure of precaution will assure you that the motorcycle was not stolen. As an added benefit, these verifications may also inform of you any reported incidents or accidents the motorcycle may have been involved in.
Get the Seller Involved
Never purchase a motorcycle, or any vehicle, without obtaining a Bill of Sale from the seller. A Bill of Sale is a form used to legally transfer the ownership of a vehicle from one party to another. In many states, a properly completed and notarized Bill of Sale is required by law to make the legitimize the sale. If the seller does not have a Bill of Sale or has no idea on write one, there are many free Bill of Sale templates that can be accessed from the Internet. Alternatively, the proper form for your state may also be obtained from your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Be sure to include the seller’s name and address, your name and address, and the date of the sale. Also include the motorcycle’s VIN number, the price it was sold for, and any contractual obligations or commitments made by the seller or by yourself. Have the Bill of Sale notarized immediately. In some states, such as Alabama, you can apply for a title and registration using a properly completed Bill of Sale.
Visit the DMV
Once the deal has been completed and you take possession of the motorcycle, visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles and complete the paper work required to register your motorcycle. You will need to present this form and your Bill of Sale to the clerk, as well as proper identification and proof of residency. If all goes well, you will have to pay a small fee for registration and titling, although, some states may require you to bring the motorcycle in for an inspection before allowing the bike to be registered. If, for some reason, the DMV requires a title to complete the transaction, you will need to take an alternative route.
In some states, nothing short of a properly transferred title will be accepted by the DMV. In these cases, you may need to contact a specialized title service, such as International Title Service. For motorcycles that are 15 years old or older (produced before 1994), ITS can register and title the motorcycle in your name in your state. Generally, the process takes 2 to 3 weeks and will require several forms and affidavits, but the end result may be worth the wait.