If you’re interested in buying a camper, there’s no shortage of options out there.
However, you might stumble across a camper that’s in great shape and price, only to find out that the camper has no title.
Or perhaps you already have a camper that is missing its title…
So what does that mean? And how do you get a title for a camper that doesn’t have one?
Let’s look at what a title really is, why some campers don’t have them and learn how you can get a camper titled!
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 proof of ownership of the vehicle.
The title contains vital 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.
Not only campers but all kinds of recreational vehicles need a certificate of title. These certificates are issued by the Secretary of State. However, in most states, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is where you get your certificate of title.
How Can a Camper Have No Title?
The title of a camper is a form of a legal document that provides important information about the camper. While most new campers are registered and have their titleholders, you might find some campers missing their title.
There are many reasons that can happen. Some of them are legitimate and logical, while others might be a bit shady. Here’s a brief list of all the possible reasons for a camper to have no title.
The Camper is Old or Lost Its Paperwork
One of the most common reasons for a camper to have no title is that it’s old. In some states, campers that are over 30 years old are not required to be titled. According to these states, old campers are considered vintage or collector items.
Even if the camper was originally registered and had its title, a vehicle that has been on the road for over 30 years has seen a lot. For that reason, the owner might’ve lost the paperwork and never cared to file for a replacement. Similarly, the paperwork might be destroyed in an accident, etc.
The Camper Was Bought from a Private Seller
If you buy a camper from a dealership, you should expect a smooth and quick process. The dealer handles all the legal paperwork needed for you to own the camper.
However, if you buy a camper from a private seller, you’re going to have to take care of all the paperwork and legalizations needed for the camper.
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 a title on a car is extremely important. However, some RV owners don’t realize that campers should have a title as well. This is understandable, as some states have different laws pertaining to titling a recreational vehicle. For example, some states don’t require a title for a trailer that’s less than 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?
Of course! 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, won’t be able to get insurance without it.
In fact, if you can’t prove your ownership of the camper, it might be illegal to use it. With the worst case being that the authorities confiscate it in fear that it’s stolen.
In fact, 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 the money you paid for it. That’s why it’s extremely risky to buy a camper without a title.
Also, if you don’t update the title from the seller, the camper remains the rightful property of the seller. In that case, he can report that his camper was stolen or damaged. In both cases, you won’t be treated as the 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 for it. Resulting in a sale that is much less than its actual worth, assuming you can even sell it at all.
How to Get a Title for a Camper Without Title?
Since many states identify campers as regular vehicles, the process of obtaining titles for campers is somewhat similar to getting a car’s title.
All you need is to gather the right paperwork and legal documents (see below) and present them to the DMV.
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. After that, you’ll have 30 days to register the camper if the state requires further registration.
Applying for the Camper’s Title
In all states, you can go to the local DMV office and physically present all the needed legal documents and title fees. Some states give you the option of registering online and mailing in the paperwork and title fees.
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
*It’s important that you 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 in order 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. In fact, 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). It’s important that you provide an accurate weight measurement in the application. Luckily, you can find many places where you can weigh your camper.
The easiest way is to head to a highway weighing station. These stations are made for weighing trucks. If the station attendants aren’t busy, they typically won’t have a problem weighing your camper. Alternatively, you can go to a landfill, a recycling plant, or a nearby factory. They usually have large scales that can easily weigh a camper. Either way, you need to make sure that they can offer valid proof of weight, as some states require it while applying for a title.
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 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 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 inspection of the camper and let you know if you should fix or replace any parts.
Once You Get Your Title
Hooray, you now have your new title in hand! Once your vehicle is titled you can now complete the required registration 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 needed a title to legally sell your RV, you can now confidently list it for sale. A titled RV will make it much easier to sell it for what it’s worth and sell it fast!