Whether buying or selling a camper, you’ll need to pass along proof of ownership with a title.
But what if the camper doesn’t have a title?
Let’s look at what a title really is, why some campers don’t have it, and how you can get a title for a camper without one!
How to Get a Title for a Camper Without One?
Since many states identify campers as regular vehicles, the process of obtaining titles for campers is somewhat similar to getting a car’s title.
Tip: Read through these instructions in their entirety, then follow the link at the bottom to your state’s DMV website to inquire about your state’s specific rules and obtain the necessary paperwork.
Getting a title for your camper involves three steps:
- Gather the right paperwork and legal documents (see below).
- Present the documents to your DMV.
- Get your title
The DMV inspects different aspects of the camper to make sure that:
- The camper’s legal situation is clear
- The camper isn’t on a lien
- The camper isn’t stolen
- The camper complies with the state’s requirement for safety
Once they approve the application, you’ll be granted the new title.
1. Gather the Title Documents
Generally speaking, these are the legal documents you’re going to need in the process:
- Title Application
- Driver’s license
- Original title, bill of sale, or certificate of origin from the manufacturer
- Certificate of Inspection (From the DOT or RV dealership)
- The lien status document
Important: Check your state’s DMV website to ensure you have all the necessary documents.
What is a Title Application?
The title application form should be downloadable from your state DMV’s website, or you can stop by your local office and pick one up. Depending on your state, the application may ask for:
- The type of vehicle
- The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- The vehicle’s specifications, such as dimensions and weight
- The owner’s name, date of birth, address, and social security number
- The employer identification number
- The driver’s license number
- A valid notary stamp (if required)
- Transfer on death beneficiary (TOD)
- Lien information (if applicable)
- Brand and model
- Year of manufacture
- The camper’s tax status
- The camper’s license plate
You don’t have to fill every single box to get your camper titled. In fact, it’s recommended that you leave some fields blank if you aren’t sure about it.
For example, you should leave the signatures and mileage fields blank if you get it notarized. This applies to many other forms as well. The notary is legally obligated to refuse to sign the application if he didn’t witness this information first.
Another issue you may run into is the camper’s weight (if you don’t know it). You must provide an accurate weight measurement in the application. Typically, you can find the weight on a sticker on the side of the camper or next to the driver’s door if it’s motorized. Or you can have your camper weighed on a scale at a truck stop.
Once everything is ready, you need to do the following:
- Download the application form through the state’s DMV website or go to your closest branch and grab one
- Fill in all the required information in the form
- Include the bill of sale, certificate of inspection, and the lien status
- Include the application fees, which are stated on the title application form
- Mail the application to the DMV (or take the documents back to the physical location) and wait for their approval
Did you know…
If you don’t have a title because you built your RV, you will need what is called a scrap title. This certificate is issued to owners of vehicles that did not previously exist. This will not only get you the proper certificate of title but will also give you the option to create a VIN number for your new vehicle.
What Is the Bill of Sale?
In addition to the application form, you also need the bill of sale to complete the application for a camper’s title. An RV bill of sale is a legal document that records the passing of ownership of the vehicle to another party in exchange for money.
The document asks for similar information that the title application requires. Additionally, it may ask for information such as:
- The agreed-upon price and the date of the sale
- Personal and contact information about the seller and the buyer
- Previous tax status
- If there’s an inspection needed by the camper buyer
- If there’s a security deposit made on the camper
- Some campers have their own identification number, in which you should provide too
In addition to these requirements, the state’s DMV might require some extra information. That’s why it’s important to check their website first.
Similar to the title application, it’s important that you sign the bill of sale in front of notary or witnesses to avoid any legal issues. Keeping the bill of sale is important for you to change the camper’s title. It’s also important for the seller for taxation.
There are many templates for bills of sale on the internet. Moreover, some state’s DMV offers a downloadable bill of sale that you can use for convenience.
What Is the Certificate of Inspection?
Another document you may need to complete is the certificate of inspection. Unlike the title application and the bill of sale, this one isn’t issued through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Instead, this certification is acquired from the Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT’s job is to inspect the camper to make sure that it’s working up to the state’s standards of safety.
Each state inspection is slightly different. However, most of them check for the following requirements:
- The condition of the wheels and tires
- The side and rear reflectors
- The visibility of the license plate
- The condition of the camper’s brakes
- The tail and headlights.
You can have your camper inspected at your nearest RV dealership. However, you should make sure that they’re authorized to issue an acceptable certificate of inspection.
The good thing is that they can give you a thorough safety inspection of the camper and let you know if you should fix or replace any parts.
2. Present the Required Paperwork to Your DMV
In all states, you can go to the local DMV office and physically present all the needed legal documents and title fees. Some states allow you to register online and mail in the paperwork and title fees.
3. Get Your Title
Hooray, you now have your new title in hand! Once your vehicle is titled, you can now complete the required registration, pay the registration fees, and get license plates for your RV. And if you haven’t already, now is the time to get RV insurance to protect your investment (and family).
If you need a title to legally sell your RV, you can now confidently list it for sale. A title will make it much easier to sell your RV fast and for top dollar!
State DMV Websites
Are you ready to get your camper titled? Choose your state DMV website below to inquire about the necessary paperwork to start the titling process.
What’s a Certificate of Title?
The certificate of title in the United States is a legal form or a document. It’s often called a “title” or a “pink slip.” This certificate provides any person or business with proof of ownership of the vehicle.
The title contains important information about your camper. That’s why it’s essential to have your title paperwork fully accurate to avoid legal troubles. But more on that later, as there are many other situations where you’ll need the title.
Campers and recreational vehicles of all kinds need a certificate of title. These certificates are issued by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Why Would an RV Not Have a Title?
While most new campers are registered and have titleholders, some campers might be missing their titles. There are many reasons that can happen. Some of them are legitimate, while others might be a bit shady. Here’s a brief list of reasons for a camper to have no title.
- The Camper is Old: One of the most common reasons a camper has no title is that it’s old. In some states, campers over 30 years old are not required to be titled. According to these states, old campers are considered vintage or collector items.
- Title Was Lost: Even if the camper was originally registered and had its title, a vehicle on the road for decades has seen a lot. The owner might’ve lost the paperwork and never cared to file for a replacement, it might have been destroyed in an accident, etc.
- The Camper Was Bought from a Private Seller: When buying a camper through a dealership, they handle all the legal paperwork involved with the transfer of ownership. However, if you buy a camper through a private sale, you must take care of all the paperwork and legalizations needed. This can be a point of failure for the proper paperwork to be passed on, including the title.
- The Owner Didn’t Know That a Title is Necessary: Almost everyone knows that the title of a car is extremely important. However, some RV owners don’t realize that campers should also have a title. This is understandable, as some states have different laws about titling a recreational vehicle. For example, some states don’t require a title for a trailer under 3,000 Pounds.
While the previous reasons are the most popular, there might be other reasons for a camper to have no title. For example, the camper might be stolen or abandoned. Additionally, the camper might have been inherited without the title.
Do You Need a Title for a Camper?
Yes, you need a title for a camper. Even if it’s a pull-behind camper, in most cases, you still need a title. Without a title, you don’t have proof of ownership of the camper. Plus, you won’t be able to register for a license plate and, in many cases, can’t get insurance without it.
In fact, if you can’t prove your ownership of the camper, it might be illegal to use it. The worst case being that the authorities confiscate it for fear that it’s stolen.
If you buy a stolen camper without a title, you could end up being arrested for suspicion of theft, and you’ll potentially be out of the money you paid for it. That’s why buying a camper without a title is extremely risky.
Also, if you don’t update the title from the seller, the camper remains the rightful property of the seller. In that case, the previous owner could report that his camper was stolen or damaged. In both cases, you won’t be treated as the new owner or compensated for your financial losses. Not good…
For these reasons, buyers will be extremely wary of buying your camper if you don’t have a title. Resulting in a sale that is much less than its actual worth, assuming you can even sell it at all.
How Do I Get a Title for a Camper With a Bill of Sale?
In some states, you may be able to get a title for your camper with a bill of sale and other documents, including the Title Application and Certificate of Inspection. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for every state. In Kansas, for example, a Bill of Sale isn’t enough for a vintage camper, and you’ll likely have to go through the process of getting a “quiet title”. The quiet title process involves filing a lawsuit in a court of law to officially establish your right to claim ownership.
Important: Given the legal complexities involved in quiet title actions, it is advisable to consult with a legal expert or an attorney specializing in real estate law to guide individuals through the process.
This is why we stress talking with your state’s DMV to get specifics on how to obtain a title for your camper.