Washington Lost Title? How To Get A Washington Bonded Title

washington lost title

Do you have a car in Washington, but no title? Maybe you never received a title when you purchased your vehicle, or maybe you received a title, but lost it before transferring it into your name.

If this sounds like you, you might be able to get a Washington Bonded Title to recover proof of ownership.

Short on time? Check out our Bonded Title FAQ page.

What is a Washington Bonded Title?

A Washington Bonded Title is a document that proves you own your vehicle. A WA Bonded Title allows you to buy insurance for your car, register your car, and sell your vehicle.

A WA Bonded Title looks just like a regular title, except it is marked with a ‘bonded’ title brand.  This brand implies there is a surety bond attached to the title. 

More on how the surety bond works at the end of the article.

When You Might Need a Washington Bonded Title

You might need a bonded title in any of the following situations, though this not a complete list:

  • You bought a vehicle and didn’t receive a title
  • You bought a vehicle and only received a bill of sale
  • You bought a vehicle and received an improperly assigned title
  • You bought a vehicle, received the original title, then lost it before transferring it into your name*

*If you had the original title in your name at one point in time, you can simply get a duplicate/replacement title. Application must be notarized and indicate why a duplicate title is needed. The fee for a duplicate/replacement title is $31. Send application to your local WA vehicle licensing office.

Not sure if you need a Washington Bonded Title? Check out this awesome infographic.

How to get a Washington Bonded Title

Step #1: Contact DMV to make sure you are eligible

Your local DMV is the only entity that can tell you if you are eligible for a bonded title or not. While we, Surety Solutions, list a few reasons you might be able to get a bonded title, only your local DMV can approve you for one.

Contact your local DMV, explain your situation, and ask if you could get a bonded title.

If they say yes, move on to Step #2.

Step #2: Request vehicle record search

Step #3: Send certified letter, if applicable

If a Washington title exists and shows up in the vehicle search, you must send a certified letter to the original title owner. If a lien exists, you must also send a certified letter to the lienholder. Your certified letters must declare you are now the owner of the vehicle and you are requesting the title be signed over to you or the lien to be released.

Original title owners and lienholders are allowed up to 30 days to respond to your certified letters. If after 30 days there is no response, or if the letters come back as undeliverable, then you can move on to the next step. Be sure to keep the undeliverable letters; do not throw them away. 

Step #4: Get vehicle inspected

Inspections should be done by a Washington state patrol officer or other law enforcement agent.

The officer will inspect your vehicle and run the VIN number to make sure it is not stolen. Once you pass the inspection, they will sign off on your vehicle inspection form.

Step #5: Find the value of your vehicle

To determine the value of your vehicle, use one of the following sources:

  • The Department of Washington’s automated value guide – Contact the Department for this
  • An appraisal from a licensed vehicle dealer or appraisal company. The appraisal must be on a company letterhead and have the business card attached
  • The insured amount of the vehicle
  • Consideration or payment plus estimate repairs by a bona fide mechanic
  • Other value sources approved by the Department

Step #6: Calculate your bond amount

Once you’ve found your vehicle value, multiple that value by 1 1/2 times. For example, if your car is valued at $2,000 then you must get a $3,000 WA Lost Title Bond.

After you’ve calculated your bond amount, move on to the next step. 

Step #7: Purchase a Washington Lost Title Bond

Purchase a bond from a surety bond company.

Make sure you apply for the correct bond amount.

You won’t have to pay the entire bond amount to get bonded. Most people only pay $100 for their bond.

Surety Solutions, A Gallagher Company does not issue Certificate of Lost Title Bonds

Before you purchase your title bond – learn important payment info

After you purchase your Washington Lost Title Bond, it will be mailed to you.


Step #8: Complete paperwork

Step #9: Submit

Take all paperwork and your original Washington Lost Title Bond to your local vehicle licensing office. When they approve your application, a Washington title will be issued. Your title will be marked “bonded”.

What Does It Mean To Be Bonded?

When you get a bonded title, you are promising that you are the true owner of the vehicle. The bond is in place to protect the DMV and any previous owners of the vehicle.

If someone comes forward later on and says that they are the owner of the vehicle and that you should not have been granted a bonded title, they can make a claim on your bond.

If the claim is determined to be valid, you would be responsible for satisfying the claim. Usually, this means paying the previous owner for the vehicle, or giving the vehicle back. The surety company will let you know what you must do to satisfy the claim.

Want to learn more about the bond claim process? Check out this resource.

Do Washington Bonded Titles Expire?

Yes, WA Bonded Titles expire 3 years after they are issued. This means that the “bonded” brand remains on your title for the entire 3 years.

If no one comes forward during those 3 years and makes a claim against your Washington Lost Title Bond, then you (or whoever owns the vehicle at the time) can go to the DMV and apply for the “bonded” brand to be removed. If the DMV approves your request, you will be issued a clear certificate of title.

If you decide to sell your vehicle before the 3 years is up, that is okay. Your name will remain on the surety bond, though, until the 3 years is up. You will be liable for any surety bond claims during those 3 years.

Related Links:

Bonded Titles FAQ

Four Reasons You Might Need A Bonded Title

Everything You Need To Know About Title Bonds

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