A title shows legal proof of ownership and most people recognize the need for a car title when buying a used or new car. Basically, a paper trail confirming you rightfully own the vehicle.

A car is one thing but do you need a title for the ATV you ride around on a track or trials?

Yes! All ATVs have a title and when purchased new from a dealer you get a title - assuming you paid in full - otherwise, like an automobile, you get the title once you pay off the full balance to whatever financing institution you borrow the money.

So the short answer is ATVs indeed have a title.

Do I Need a Title for an ATV?

When purchasing a new or used ATV at a dealer you will receive a title. Don't leave without one. The problem with ATV titles tends to come from private sales. Titles get lost, damaged, even thrown out. Some states don't require the title for ownership purposes. Therefore, if an ATV seller does not have an ATV title to transfer ownership make sure to get a bill of sale if you proceed with the purchase. Otherwise, move on and find another seller to get your ATV and corresponding title simply for peace of mind.

The first problem with not receiving a title for your ATV might arise a few months later when someone else lays claim to your ATV because it was stolen from them six months earlier. In addition to losing out on the money spent, you need to prove your innocence to the police. Probably pretty easy but think of the hassle. Checking the VIN prior to purchase helps prevent buying a stolen ATV.

Secondly, the seller could very well come back later and say "I own this ATV!" and produce the title. Most likely you paid cash, because that's what the seller requests, and you have no proof of ownership even with a bill of sale. Or, a finance company retains legal ownership of the ATV and wants their money. Again, a VIN check tells you who actually owns the ATV.

Finally, as a seller you want to relinquish all responsibility of ownership to the ATV. If you remain in possession of the title after selling the ATV and the new "owner" injures someone while riding, sadly, you can be sued and held financially responsible since you never officially transferred ownership of the ATV.

An ATV title contains similar information as the title for a car including:

  • The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • Make, Model, Year
  • Owner name and address
  • Bank lien information
  • Title Number

You can use the title as a buyer to ensure the ATV being sold matches with the information on the title. Read How To Read and Check Your Motorcycle or ATV VIN for additional details on locating the VIN and what all those numbers mean.

Example of an ATV title

An example of a title used for ATV ownership

Ideally, you want to obtain the ATV title and bill of sale when buying from a private party, or when selling and transferring title ownership to the new party. Remember, you need to transfer the title at the DMV of your state just like a car. Always check with your local DMV for the necessary paperwork to ensure a smooth transaction.

Once in your possession, keep the title in a safe and secure place. You don't place the car title in the glove compartment so don't carry the ATV title with you.

Most states require you to register a new or used ATV, especially when riding on public lands, so having the ATV title in-hand makes this an easy process. Check with your state's DMV or OHV division for more information on registering your ATV.

Lost ATV Title

Alas, life happens. If you have lost the ATV title and need it for selling or simply want to have possession of it, and you should, take a trip to the DMV. If you're lucky, you might get it done via your state's DMV website but whether in person or through the internet, expect to jump through various hoops and pay some fees to secure a new ATV title.