Texas Bonded Titles 101

The basics

What is a bonded title?

Every vehicle owner should have a title associated with the vehicle they own; if you own more than one vehicle, then you will need a title for each vehicle you own. This title provides valuable and essential information about your vehicle, such as your vehicle identification number (VIN), owner, and more.

Having a car title is essential to owning a car and using it in every circumstance. You need a car title, for example, to buy insurance for your car, to register your car, and to sell it to others. When you are purchasing a new car from a car dealer, you should receive your title in the mail from the dealership after you purchase the vehicle. The case is not the same for used vehicles—sometimes, people selling used vehicles do not have the title for the car.

This could be for many reasons; for one, if the car was stolen, then the title could be with the rightful owner. However, not all vehicles without titles have been stolen. Some vehicles could lack titles because the titles themselves were stolen. Others could have transferred ownership in a way where the title was not transferred over properly. Most commonly, however, people may have misplaced the physical sheet of paper that the title is printed on.

In these cases, a bonded title is necessary for purchasers of cars without titles. A bonded title is essentially a title to a car that is validated by a surety bond. A bonded title is the only way for you to get a title when there is no sufficient proof of your ownership of the vehicle.

Who needs a bonded title?

Anyone who has purchased a car secondhand where the title was not included in the purchase will need a bonded title as proof to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles that the car belongs to you. This is a financial guarantee that the person holding the bonded title actually owns the car. If it turns out that the original owner comes out with the original title and the bonded title holder does not legally have rights to the car, the surety bond ensures that the original owner gets financial compensation.

Texas bonded title

What is a bonded title in Texas?

A bonded title in Texas is a legal document that proves ownership of a vehicle when the original title or ownership documents are not available. It is also known as a certificate of title surety bond. To obtain a bonded title, the vehicle owner must provide proof of ownership and pay a bond to ensure that no other claims of ownership will arise. This bond provides protection to subsequent purchasers and lien holders and allows the vehicle to be registered and legally operated on public roads.

Differences between Texas and other states

Many states have different policies on how long it takes before bonded titles can become clean titles. If a certain amount of time, typically three to five years, passes without an original or rightful owner stepping forward to claim ownership of the car, a bonded title can become a clean title in many states. This allows for anyone whose car has been stolen or otherwise unrightfully changed of possession to be financially compensated for the loss. In the event of a rightful claim, the party that has unlawfully obtained the car will thus have to give up rights to the vehicle.

In Texas, this process is possible after three years. Once this time passes without any incident, a clean title will be issued by the Texas DMV to the current bonded title owner.

Who needs a bonded title in Texas?

Anyone who has purchased a car without a title—whether lost, missing, or stolen—will need a bonded title in Texas. Any individuals who cannot provide proof of ownership documents for their vehicle must purchase a certificate of title bond as required by Texas Texas Administrative Code. This helps establish your ownership of the vehicle despite the circumstance where you do not have any documentation or proof of ownership.

Steps to get a bonded title in Texas

To obtain a bonded title in Texas, the Texas DMV outlines three basic steps, which we will go into more detail about below:

  1. Determine your eligibility
  2. Obtain a surety bond
  3. Apply for the bonded title

1. Determine your eligibility

In order to qualify for a bonded title, you must be:

  • A Texas resident, or
  • Military personnel stationed in Texas.

The vehicle must be in your possession. If it is considered junked or non-repairable, it is ineligible for a title. Although not required to be operational, it must be a complete vehicle. This means that the vehicle includes a frame, body and motor; or if it is a motorcycle, a frame and motor.

If you meet the above eligibility requirements, you should either physically bring or mail the bond application, a photo ID, or any supportable evidence of ownership (eg. bill of sale, invoice, canceled check) to your local Texas DMV Regional service center. In addition, you should bring or mail $15 in cash, check, or money order, which serves as the administrative fee for issuing a bonded title.

Out of state vehicles

If you are a Texas resident who has purchased an out of state vehicle, there are added processes to undergo before you can obtain a bonded title. First, the VIN must be verified by a Texas certified Safety Inspection Station, who will fill out a Vehicle Inspection Report.

Additionally, if the vehicle has never been titled or registered in Texas then a vehicle identification number inspection is required from an auto theft investigator on the Law Enforcement Identification Number Inspection (Form VTR-68-A). Inquire with local law enforcement agencies such as the police department or sheriff’s office to determine when and where your local law enforcement offers these inspections. These inspections are not offered by the TxDMV. Upon completion of the inspection, the inspecting officer will provide you with a Form VTR-68-A.

2. Obtain a surety bond

What is a Certificate of Title Bond?

A certificate of title bond, also known as a bonded title, is a legal document required in Texas when an individual does not have proof of ownership or legal title for a vehicle. It is a bond that acts as an insurance policy and guarantees that the seller is the legal owner of the vehicle. This certificate is a legal requirement in Texas to register a vehicle, and it is typically valid for three years.

How to Get a Certificate of Title Bond in Texas?

To obtain a certificate of title bond in Texas, first, you need to find an authorized surety bond company in the state. You can search online for a list of bonding companies in Texas, or you can ask for a recommendation from your local DMV office. Once you have found a bonding company, provide them with the necessary information about the car you are trying to bond, such as the make, model, and VIN number. Then, the company will underwrite and issue the bond. The bonding company will require a payment, which is usually based on the value of the vehicle and your credit score.

What Should I Consider When Getting a Certificate of Title Bond?

When you are getting a certificate of title bond, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider the bonding broker’s reputation, experience, and customer service. Do some research and read reviews online or ask for recommendations from friends and family. Secondly, make sure you have all the necessary information about the vehicle you are bonding to, including the make, model, and VIN number. Lastly, be prepared to pay for the bond, as the cost will depend on the value of the vehicle and your credit score.

How do I obtain the surety bond?

Obtaining a surety bond for a bonded title in Texas requires finding an authorized bond company, providing the necessary information of the car, considering the bonding company's reputation, and paying for the bond. 

You have one year from the date of the notice to purchase a Surety Bond in the amount shown on the notice, otherwise a new notice and bond will be required.

3. Apply for a bonded title

To apply for a bonded title in Texas, you need to submit the following documents to the Texas DMV:

  • A completed application for a bonded title
  • The original and a copy of the bill of sale or the purchase agreement of the vehicle
  • A letter of notification to the legal owner of the vehicle (if applicable)
  • Any documents proving ownership of the vehicle
  • The certificate of title bond

Once you have submitted the necessary documents, the DMV will review them, and if everything is in order, they will issue a bonded title, which will allow you to register the vehicle with the state of Texas.

In conclusion, obtaining a surety bond for a bonded title in Texas requires finding an authorized bond company, providing the necessary information of the car, considering the bonding company's reputation, and paying for the bond. You can then apply for a bonded title by submitting the necessary documents to the Texas DMV. A bonded title ensures that the seller is the legal owner of the vehicle and gives buyers peace of mind knowing they have protection against any future ownership claims.

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Pricing of bonded titles in Texas

Like most other surety bonds, the final price you pay for the bond will be:

Bond amount * Premium rate = Final Price

The bond amount for a certificate of title bond in Texas is equal to 1 ½ times the value of the vehicle. For many cases, however, the value of the vehicle is not immediately clear, and must be appraised. The Texas DMV will help determine the value of the vehicle for you.

According to the DMV website, their appraisal process will use:

  • The Standard Presumptive Value (SPV) from our web site as the primary source
  • If an SPV is not available, the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) reference guide will be used, or
  • If a value is not available either through SPV or NADA, a licensed motor vehicle dealer or insurance adjuster may appraise the vehicle on form Motor Vehicle Appraisal for Tax Collector Hearing / Bonded Title (Form VTR-125) provided by TxDMV.

Something to note is that for appraisals under $4,000 on vehicles 25 years old or older, the value will be set at $4,000.

In Texas, if the bond amount is equal to or less than $6,000, the price of the certificate of title bonds is a flat fee of $100. However, for bond amounts higher than $6,000, the price will depend on both the car value (aka bond amount) and the premium rate based on your credit score.

For these cases, once you have gotten the bond amount based on your car’s value, you will also need to obtain a premium rate that has to do with your own personal information, most importantly your credit score. This premium rate is a percentage that reflects the bondholder’s credibility and trustworthiness. The better your credit, the lower your premium rate will be. In Texas, the premium rate is typically around 1-2%.


In summary, obtaining a bonded title in Texas can be a confusing and overwhelming process, but it is not impossible. By following the steps outlined in this article and paying attention to the requirements specific to your situation, you can successfully navigate the process. However, if you still feel unsure or need assistance, don't hesitate to seek out the guidance of professionals who specialize in this area, like the experts at Surety Now. We are based in Texas, and have an intimate knowledge of bonded titles and the best surety companies in Texas, if you wish to purchase a certificate of bond title or have any questions.

Remember, a bonded title can be a valuable tool in gaining legal ownership of a vehicle and getting back on the road, so don't give up until you've explored all your options. Best of luck to you in securing your bonded title!