Are you looking for a camper at the moment? You’ll find there are plenty of great vans out there. You might even find a camper that’s in fantastic shape, and even the price is right but it doesn’t have a title.
What to do? And how can you get a title for a camper which doesn’t currently have one?
We explore why you need a title for your camper and we find out how you can get a camper titled.
If you’re interested in buying a camper, there’s no shortage of options out there.
Why Do You Need A Title For A Camper?
In the United States, a so called Certificate of Title is a legal document which certifies that a certain person or business owns a vehicle.
This certificate is also known as pink slip or title. The certificate of title is officially issued by the Secretary of State but in most states you can get the title document from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
A vehicle’s title contains all the important information of vehicles, such as cars and campers. In order to avoid any legal disagreements, it’s important to have your camper’s title document.
Essentially, without your camper’s title, you don’t have proof that you own the vehicle. This means you won’t be able to get insurance or even register the camper for a license plate.
That’s not all though. If you cannot show a police officer or an authority proof of ownership for your camper, you might be suspected of having stolen the vehicle and you can get arrested.
The worst case scenario then would be that the authorities confiscate your camper on the spot.
In fact, the main reason why buying a camper without the title is so risky is that the current owner could report the camper as stolen or damaged after you bought it.
Then you would not only end up in legal trouble but you also wouldn’t be compensated for any of your lost money.
That’s why, be extremely careful when buying a camper which doesn’t have a title.
Why Does A Camper Van Not Have A Title?
As already mentioned, the title of a camper is one of the most important documents you’ll need as the owner of the vehicle.
Usually most new cars and campers are already registered but some campers might not have a title yet.
The reasons as to why this can happen varies with the previous owner’s circumstances and the camper.
Some of these reasons might be acceptable, others might need to be queried, especially when you are looking to purchase a camper without title.
The Age Of The Camper
Although we have mentioned that all vehicles need a title, this is not quite true. Some states allow campers older than 30 years not to be titled.
These states classify older campers as vintage or collector antiques which don’t require a vehicle title.
One of the most common reasons for a camper not to have a title is lost paperwork.
If a camper has been on the road for a while, and changed ownership several times, it might have happened that a previous owner lost the papers and never filed for a replacement.
Private Seller Process
Buying a camper from a dealer is usually straightforward and all the paperwork for you as the new owner is put in place by the dealership.
This is slightly different when you choose to buy a camper from a private seller. Then you’ll have to make sure that all the legal papers are in place for you to own the vehicle.
For this reason, it can happen that the previous owner doesn’t pass on all the right paperwork, and you miss out on receiving the vehicle’s title.
The Owner Doesn’t Know A Title Is Needed
While the majority of people know that a title is a must-have for a car, RV owners often don’t realize that their RV or camper should also have a title.
This lack of knowledge comes from the different regulations across US states. Some states have differing laws and regulations when it comes to recreational vehicles such as campers.
Other Possible Reasons
Lost paperwork and the age of a camper are the most common reasons, there are many other reasons why a camper could end of having no title.
Some campers might have been abandoned or stolen, or you may have inherited a vehicle without a title.
How To Get A Title For Camper Without Title?
Once you found out that your camper doesn’t have a title, you may wonder how to get one.
While some states have specific laws for recreational vehicles, the majority of states treat campers in a similar way as cars and other vehicles.
That’s why, getting a title for your camper can match the process of getting a car’s title.
The title application process for your camper is relatively easy. You simply have to take all the legal documents and paperwork to the DMV.
The DMV will make a few checks to ensure the camper
- isn’t stolen
- isn’t on a lien
- legal documents are in order
- fully adheres to the state’s safety requirements for recreational vehicles
This process can take some time but once your application has been approved, your camper will be given a title.
You then have 30 days to register your vehicle if the state needs further registration.
How To Apply For A Camper’s Title?
The place to go to for a vehicle’s title applications is your local DMV office. There, you need to show all the legal paperwork and pay a title fee.
In some states, you can also mail the paperwork and fees, or register online.
What Paperwork Do You Need To Register A Camper’s Title?
The exact list of paperwork you need to get your camper titled should be on your state’s DMV website.
Generally speaking, you’ll need the title application, your driver’s license, the original title (or alternatively a bill of sale or a certificate of origin from the manufacturer), the lien status document and the certificate of inspection (either from an RV dealership or the United States Department of Transportation)
The Title Application Form
A title application is simply the title application form which you can either pick up from your local DMV office or you can download it from their website.
The title application form varies by state but commonly the DMV ask for following information:
- Vehicle type
- Make, model and brand
- Manufacturing year
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Vehicle specifications (including weight and dimensions)
- Your name, address, date of birth and social security number
- Your employer identification number
- Your driver license’s number
- Vehicle’s license plate
- Vehicle’s tax status
Some states also ask for additional details, such as:
- A valid notary stamp
- Transfer on death beneficiary (TOD) if applicable
- Lien information (if applicable)
It’s important that you only fill in the fields that you are sure of. For example, you may not know the camper’s exact weight.
You can find out how much your camper weighs at a local highway weighing station. These stations usually weigh trucks but if you ask the attendants nicely, you will likely agree to put your camper on the oversized scales.
Make sure that you get the exact weight, as some states require the correct weight to process your title application.
If you are not certain of some information on the form, then it’s best to leave these boxes blank.
For all RV owners who built their camper and this is the reason why the vehicle doesn’t have a title, you’ll need something called a scrap title.
This particular document is provided to all owners of vehicles that didn’t exist previously.
While scrap titles don’t have the same legal standing as the proper certificate of title, they will allow you to create a vehicle identification number for your camper.
It’s essential that you sign the title application in front of a witness or notary to be on the legal safe side.
The Bill Of Sale For A Camper’s Title Application
As we have seen, you will also need a bill of sale (or alternative proof of purchase) to go with your application form for a camper’s title.
Usually, a bill of sale for an RV is a legal document which records the passing of ownership for the vehicle as part of a sale.
The bill of sale includes similar information to the title application form. In some states, you may also need:
- The agreed price between buyer and seller, and the sale date
- Contact information and personal details of the buyer and seller
- The camper’s previous tax status
- Any note on a security deposit made on the vehicle
- Any note on required inspections of the camper
- The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
Be sure to check your state’s DMV website first, as you might need to present some additional documents.
The bill of sale should also be signed in front of witnesses or a notary to ensure there are no legal problems arising.
It’s also essential the buyer and seller each keep a copy of the bill of sale. While this is important for the buyer to apply for the camper’s title, it’s vita for the seller for tax purposes.
If you are unsure what a bill of sale should look like, it’s worth checking online for some templates. Some DMV offices also provide you with a downloadable version of a bill of sale.
The Certificate Of Inspection
The third important document you need for your camper’s title application is the certificate of inspection.
This document differs from the bill of sale and title application in so far that is not issued by the DMV. Instead, you’ll have to contact the Department of Transportation.
However, the actual camper inspection can be done at your local TV dealership or garage. You will have to make sure that they are authorized to issue certificates of inspection.
If you are not sure where to get your inspection done for the certificate, it’s best to contact the DOT directly for advice.
This safety inspection primarily looks at safety aspects ensuring that your camper adheres to the state’s safety standards.
Depending on the state your vehicle, each inspection is individual. This said, the inspectors usually look at the following:
- Condition of all tires and wheels
- Visibility of the camper’s license plate
- Functioning headlights and tail lights
- Visibility of read and side reflectors
- The condition of the camper’s brakes
While this can sound daunting, the benefits of the inspection are clear. It’s important to ensure your safety and that of all passengers, and at the same time you also get a vehicle health check to know what might need to be fixed.
The Final Steps
When you have your bill of sale, the lien status document and the certificate of inspection together, you are ready to fill in the title application form.
Then drop off everything, together with the application fees (indicated on the form) at your local DMV office or post it.
Now you only need to wait for the application to be approved or to receive a request for further information.
The title for a camper is just one step in the long journey of registering your vehicle.
Once you sent everything off, and you hold your camper’s title in your hands, you can finally complete the registration process and apply for an RV license plate.
This is also a great time to get insurance cover for your camper to make sure you are covered for eventual accidents.
But it’s not just new owners who need a title for their camper. Also, sellers of RVs might need to apply for a title as usually a titled vehicle sells much faster.
Whether you are a proud new camper owner or a seller who wants to put their RV up for sale, the certificate of title is an essential, legal document proving who owns the vehicle.
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