Vehicle salesperson holding clip board for a California bonded title

How to get a California Bonded Title

This California bonded title guide is for informational purposes only. does not regulate or manage vehicle registration in California. Contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles for the state's the latest official vehicle bonded title requirements.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles accepts a bonded title as an alternative to the vehicle's original title when proof of ownership is not available. A bonded title isn't necessary if your title was lost or stolen as long as the title is in the owner’s name. Getting a bonded title is the best solution if you can't otherwise provide proof of ownership for your vehicle as it establishes proof of ownership on the basis of a surety bond. 

How to get a California Bonded Title

How do I get a bonded title in California?

Step 1: Fill out a title application and the corresponding forms.

To get a bonded title in California, you'll first need to fill out a few required forms and applications. 

Step 2: Have your vehicle inspected by a DMV representative.

Your vehicle will need to undergo an inspection by an authorized DMV representative to ensure that it meets the standards set in place by the California DMV. The DMV representative will fill out a Verification of Vehicle form after the inspection that certifies your vehicle passes CHP inspection, smog, brake, and light check standards requirements. 

Step 3: Get your vehicle appraised. 

To determine the value of your vehicle, you'll need to get your vehicle appraised by a California or other state-licensed dealer or motor vehicle insurance representative. Your vehicle’s fair market value can also be determined by using a website like Kelley Blue Book or NADA . If your vehicle has multiple appraisal amounts, the average between them will be used to determine the value of your vehicle. The type of bond you purchase will be determine by the fair market value of your vehicle. 

Step 4: Purchase your California defective title bond.

After determining the fair market value of the vehicle, you'll need to purchase and submit Motor Vehicle Ownership Surety Bond (Form 5047) to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Also known as the "California defective title bond," you need this bond if your vehicle meets any of the following conditions.

  • The value of your vehicle is over $5,000.
  • The value of your vessel is under $2,000.
  • Your vehicle is nontransferable.
  • A release from the legal owner/lien holder can't be obtained.

You can buy your California defective title bond online 24/7 with 3-year premiums that start at $100 based on your vehicle value. 

Step 5: Submit your application materials and bond to the California DMV. 

Once you've gathered all your application materials, gotten your vehicle appraised, and purchased your surety bond, you can submit your materials to your local California DMV and get your bonded title. Your surety bond is valid for 3 years, after which it'll become null. Your bonded title will remain effective, and doesn't need renewing. 

Last Updated: August 18, 2023

Call 1 (800) 308-4358 to talk with a Surety Expert