Much like a person, a car can have one or many titles at once, all denoting their status of ownership, origin, repair or legality. Not all vehicles exist under the same conditions, and for each set of wheels, there's both a history and a proper type of title that explains it and regulates it in the State of Florida.
If you own a car and are in the process of having your papers in check, it would be very helpful for you to know which titles you will need and what they represent, since that could subject your vehicle to different laws and affect its value considerably. It's also worth noting that most mishandling or oversight regarding car titles can become subject of both legal fines and even considered felonies. So let's just get started with our tour of car titles and be informed on what should we name them, shall we?
Certificates of Origin:
This is literally the birth certificate for your car, in this case, issued by its parent: The vehicle manufacturer. It is issued to the car's franchise dealer where the vehicle is delivered to and it is used for transfers for first owners.
Statements of Origin:
This is often used by car manufacturers for imports or domestic transfers. Basically, they provide information on where the vehicle originated from so it can be more easily processed during transfer operations.
These are titles that state no liens, no previous owners, no salvage notations, and basically no other previous history. Think of it as a brand-new car certificate. Whoever owns this title is the sole legal owner of it and no other parties have legal claim over it. Think of it as a legal clean slate for your car.
These titles are issued for more complex situations where vehicles were stolen or damaged in a way that could be considered irreversible, and thus they change the way the car is legally handled by the State.
In Florida, salvaged vehicles are those where payments were made to the owner by an insurance company for total loss terms that include repair or theft. If the car is uninsured, it will be considered salvage if the cost of repairing it exceeds 80 percent of its current market price.
Insurance companies are bound to submit an auctioning process for the vehicle when they get obtain the salvage title. However, when the vehicle is uninsured, the owner has a period of 72 hours to declare it as salvaged at the Florida DHSMV so it can be processed.
If you're ever in an accident of a victim of car theft, be sure to know what kinds of terms and conditions are applicable for salvage titles. We'll discuss this process more aptly in future blog entries.
Titles can be designated as "junk titles" when they are sold to junkyards with the intention of scrapping or parting out vehicles. Junk titles, salvage titles, and certificates of destruction are permanent brands that are rarely removed from titles.
Certificates of Destruction:
There are cases when insurance companies may issue these certificates, usually when vehicles are intended to be destroyed and not used or registered in the future.
Insurance companies have been known to use these certificates for cars that are in otherwise good conditions but have some defect that the company itself has to legally protect itself from such as defective frame structures or missing airbags.
These are issued when there are questions or doubts about the true legal ownership of a vehicle. Bonded titles are obtained with a security bond for the value of the vehicle that covers any potential legal claims that might arise in the future. This may or may not be the most convenient type of title depending on the situation, yet sometimes it is the only legal option available.
Affidavit of Titles:
These documents serve a similar purpose to bonded titles and are issued by sellers to explicitly state that there are potential legal issues with the vehicle's property status. They are designed to protect buyers from legal issues that sellers might be facing by providing them with a document that safeguards them from any liabilities regarding the seller's legal condition.
These are issued directly to lienholders. Basically, they are titles that are issued to whoever purchased the vehicles as its owner, but list the lender as a lien holder, effectively retaining possession of the title.
These are intended for vehicles that were extensively rebuilt for use. They are issued by licensed rebuilders, collision centers, insurance companies and body shops. These titles allow a reconstructed vehicle to be legally registered for use, but such vehicle will be required to be inspected first.
Vehicles being imported into the United States need a legal title to clear customs. If the vehicle was previously titled in the United States then there will only be a recovery process for such a title, but if it was not manufactured for the US market, it requires certification for its legal use.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency along with other bureaus will have to check if the vehicles meet all the standards for entering the country and being legally used.
Vehicles leaving the country need the right clearance and declarations at its exit point. Since possessing a clear title may not be an option in the country where the car would end up, it is recommended that the title process is started early so as not to pay too much in storage fees.
Keep all these title denominations in mind and you'll be sure to keep your papers in check whenever you need and for whatever purpose you may need.
If you need some extra help sorting titles for your car, be sure to contact Auto Tags of Florida at (954)848-4808 and get all your titles sorted out in no time!