Problems with automotive title.

I am seeking out the states that deal with ‘Bill of sale’ papers only when selling a vehicle. I just bought 2 motorcycles in Conn. and the guy promised he would send titles soon as he found them. Long story short, he never did. Now, I have these bikes, and NO titles. He said he’d send me a ‘bill’ of ‘sale’ for them & that I could use that to get titles. I contacted the DMV in Conn. supplying the VINS to the bikes, and I was told that the bikes were NEVER registered there, and they were sorry, but could not help me. NO idea what to do next.
I USED to hear stories about guys in Alabama getting titles for people just by sending the VIN numbers to them, and allowing them to register them where they lived. Then, they would send the papers back to the original person, who then took them to their DMV, and had them changed to Penna. titles. But I cant find anyone to do this for me anymore… HAVE 2 bikes here that NEED clean papers done so they can be re-titled back here in Penna. ANYONE know of persons who might be able to HELP me get this done??? One bike is a '57 Harley, and the other is a 1986 '450’cc Honda Rebel. CAN anybody help??? Costs??? Can mail me directly, [Edited to remove personal information]. NEED help !! THANKS ! ! ! Bill.

I’ll never understand why people buy the old “I’ll send them to you later” story. Now, you’re sort of screwed. The only legal recourse is to have the previous owner do what they should have done in the first place when they couldn’t locate the original title - pay the fee to get a duplicate, sign that over and send it to you. Now that they’ve got your money, there’s no incentive to help you and they won’t.

Moderator Note.

The OP was originally posted to this old thread. Since legal advice is best suited to IMHO, I have moved the post and reply to IMHO with a new title. I have also removed personal information. Those wishing to contact the OP may do so by PM or email.

General Questions Moderator

There’s a chance that those bikes have been stolen. If you bought stolen property, you’re screwed. However the guy selling stolen property is even more screwed. You might want to threaten him with contacting the police and see what happens. He might even offer to give your money back.

What you need to do is a nationwide VIN search, for example at

Note Carfax will tell you they have records and will then charge you to see the details.

For other options do a Google search for
nationwide VIN search
or comparable terms.

Tell us if this produces useful results.

The answer will vary depending on state. In Georgia a title is not required for any motor vehicle 1985 or older, so your '57 could be registered with just the bill of sale (still doesn’t protect you if the bike was previously stolen, but you could at least put it on the road). The '86 would require a title.

I suggest you start with the DMV in your state.

One thing you’re going to run up against are barriers designed to prevent title-washing, and legitemizing ownership of a stolen/improperly imported vehicle.

Most states have provisions for obtaining ‘bonded’ titles. This process adresses the OP problem. It costs money (typically a % of the vehicle value) and some time but you get a title. Contact your DMV to see how they do it. Expect to get a lot of sideways looks during the process. There are very few legitemate reasons for possessing a vehicle, but not the right to the title.