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Title Litigation

Disclaimer

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) provides the following information on title litigation as a public service. TxDMV believes this information to be accurate and reliable but we cannot promise it is always up-to-date and correct. TxDMV assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors in the information or for the use of the information provided. TxDMV is not providing this information as legal advice to address the circumstances of your case. The contents of this page are not rules or binding guidance of the TxDMV and cannot be used as such in a court or any other dispute with TxDMV. When in doubt about a specific case or requirement, you should consult with a lawyer.

If you have a question regarding a motor vehicle title, your local TxDMV Regional Service Center (RSC) should be your first stop – either in person or over the phone. Your local TxDMV RSC can tell you whether you qualify for a bond , whether a correction to the record is possible, or whether you may need a court order to revoke, rescind, reinstate, or issue a new record.

About Court Orders

Certain changes to motor vehicle titles will require a court order from a Texas county or district court. In most cases, an order issued by a Justice of the Peace is not acceptable.

The most common scenarios that require a court order include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • You wish to appeal the determination of a tax assessor-collector after a hearing on the refusal, rescission, cancellation, suspension, or revocation of title by TxDMV.
  • You believe someone fraudulently transferred your title into his or her name.
  • You believe someone fraudulently placed a lien on your title.
  • You are a lienholder and you believe someone fraudulently removed your lien from the title record.
  • You sold a vehicle and the paperwork involves an incorrect name or incorrect Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the application cannot be rejected by the tax assessor-collector’s office (within five days of submitting) or corrected by the RSC.
  • You sold a vehicle and transferred title, but the purchaser changed his or her mind and no longer wants the vehicle. Title is pending issuance or has already issued in the purchaser’s name.
  • You need to obtain a reassignment of an original manufacturer’s assigned VIN that was removed from the vehicle.

This list is representative of the most common scenarios, but you may also need to obtain a court order in other circumstances as well. If you are not sure whether a court order is necessary, please contact your local TxDMV RSC, or the TxDMV title litigation section by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (512) 465-1286.

How to Get
a Court Order

If you determine a court order is necessary, you may follow these steps:

STEP 1: IF you wish to prevent a title transfer, submit a written request for a temporary hold. If you do not wish to prevent a title transfer, go to STEP 2.

To prevent a title from transferring, contact TxDMV and request that a temporary hold be placed on the vehicle record. This hold, which is effective for ten business days only, is also referred to as a “legal restraint.” The hold will temporarily prevent any title transactions from being processed so you have time to file your petition in court.

A request for a temporary hold must be made in writing, and must include the year, make, model and VIN of the vehicle (unless you need a VIN assigned by the department), and a clear explanation why the hold is needed. Please include your name, telephone number, mailing address, and email address (if available) so we may contact you if we need additional information to process your hold request.

Submit the hold request by fax to (512) 465-5638, or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . If you cannot fax or email your request, you may also mail it or provide it by hand delivery to the following address:

Litigation Section
Office of General Counsel
Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
4000 Jackson Avenue
Austin, Texas 78731

When TxDMV receives the written request with all the required information, we will place the temporary hold on the record for ten business days.

STEP 2: File a petition in county, court at law or district court in the county where you reside or in which the vehicle is titled, and serve the petition on TxDMV

If you requested a hold as described in STEP 1, you should file a petition in a Texas county, court at law or district court within ten business days, naming the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles as a defendant. You should also name all other known parties in the suit. Other parties may be those who also claim to have an interest in the motor vehicle title, such as a lienholder, a co-owner of the vehicle, or a person with whom you are disputing the title. If you did not request a hold, you may file your suit at any time and serve a file-stamped copy on TxDMV

NOTE: As of September 1, 2013, a justice of the peace or municipal court judge may not issue an order related to a title except in certain situations involving the disposition of stolen property or the enforcement of liens on personal property in cases in which the amount in controversy is otherwise within the court's jurisdiction. In addition, a county or district court judge may not order the department to change the type of title for a nonrepairable or “junk” vehicle for which the department or any other jurisdiction has issued a nonrepairable vehicle title or a certificate of authority to dispose of the vehicle to a motor vehicle demolisher for demolition, wrecking, or dismantling.

The following sample petitions are provided for your use and should be edited to fit your particular circumstance(s):

These sample petitions are provided as a guide only. They do not address every situation that may occur in a title suit. We suggest you seek the advice of a private attorney if you are unsure what to include in the petition.

If you requested a hold in STEP 1, within ten business days of requesting the hold, you must also serve a file-stamped copy of the petition showing the court’s assigned cause number and court assignment to us at the fax number, email address, or mailing address provided in STEP 1. If TxDMV receives the file-stamped petition within ten business days of requesting the hold, the temporary hold will be extended until TxDMV receives a copy of either a final judgment by the court or an order dismissing the case. If you do not serve the file-stamped petition on TxDMV within ten business days of requesting the hold, the hold will be released and title applications will be processed.

Please note that, except in rare circumstances, TxDMV has no position in the lawsuit and no interest in the outcome of title litigation. TxDMV will respond to the petition with an answer to the court. However, TxDMV typically does not oppose the plaintiff or participate in hearings or trials, but stands ready to comply with the judgment of the court upon conclusion of the suit.

In most cases, we will sign an unopposed judgment that you may provide the court to facilitate your lawsuit. The following samples of unopposed judgments are provided for your use:

When you have modified the unopposed judgment to fit your needs, please send a copy to the fax number, email address, or mailing address provided in STEP 1. We will review the judgment, usually within 1 to 5 business days, and sign if appropriate. After we return a signed unopposed judgment to you, you may present it to the court to show TxDMV does not oppose the judgment you seek from the court.

STEP 3: Provide a copy of the signed judgment or order to TxDMV

When the court has ruled on your suit, send us a file-stamped copy of the signed judgment or order to the fax number, email address or mailing address provided in STEP 1. We will take the steps necessary to comply with the judgment.

Cancellation of First
Sale Title Application

In certain circumstances, the department may rescind, cancel, or revoke an application for a title following the cancellation of a first sale by a licensed motor vehicle dealer. Transportation Code §501.051(b) provides as follows:

  1. The department may rescind, cancel, or revoke an application for a title if a notarized or county-stamped affidavit is presented containing:
    1. a statement that the vehicle involved was a new motor vehicle in the process of a first sale;
    2. a statement that the dealer, the applicant, and any lienholder have canceled the sale;
    3. a statement that the vehicle:
      1. was never in the possession of the title applicant; or
      2. was in the possession of the title applicant; and
    4. the signatures of the dealer, the applicant, and any lienholder.

For example, when financing falls through or when a purchaser has second thoughts on a vehicle purchase, the revocation affidavits provide an alternative to a court order for canceling a first sale title application. The department may rescind, cancel, or revoke an application for title if notarized affidavits executed by the purchaser, dealer, and lienholder (if applicable) are presented to the department within 21 days from the initial date of sale. To use this process, all parties must mutually agree to cancel the first sale title application. For more information on this process, including detailed information on the required Form VTR-17, please contact your local TxDMV Regional Service Center. If the transfer occurs after 21 days from the initial date of sale, a court order is necessary to rescind the title issued in error.

 

 

Temporary Permits

TxDMV issues temporary permits for private or commercial vehicles subject to Texas registration laws, but not authorized to travel on Texas highways due to the lack of registration or lack of reciprocity with the state or country in which the vehicle is registered.

TxDMV offers the following temporary permit types:

temp-permits72-Hour, 144-Hour, One-Trip and 30-Day Permits



vehicle-transitTransit Permit - if you buy a car or truck and the seller keeps the Texas license plates, the Transit Permit allows you to legally drive the vehicle home or to your local county tax office.

72 & 144-Hour Permits

TxDMV issues a 72- or 144-Hour Permit for the movement of a laden truck, truck-tractor, trailer, semitrailer, or a motor bus on the highways of Texas.

Purchase a 72- or 144-Hour Permit

You may purchase a 72- or 144-Hour Permit in the following ways:

Fees and Payment Information
  • 72-Hour Permit - $25
  • 144-Hour Permit - $50

Fees are payable by:

  • MasterCard, VISA, Discover or American Express if purchasing the permit online or at a county tax office that accepts them. A service charge may be included.
  • Certified check or money order, payable to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Funds deposited in a pre-established escrow account
  • Cash

Note: Personal checks will not be accepted.

You may purchase permits in advance of a proposed trip and several permits may be obtained at one time with the times of validity to run in chain-like fashion, having one permit become effective immediately upon the expiration of the preceding one.

Eligible Use

A 72-or 144-Hour Permit may only be issued to commercial vehicles and buses owned by residents of the United States, Mexico, or Canada.

These permits may be used to:

  • Operate an unregistered commercial vehicle or bus in Texas.
  • Engage in intrastate operations in Texas with out-of-state licensed commercial vehicles.

Texas residents may use these permits to operate:

  • An unregistered commercial vehicle or bus in Texas.
  • A Texas registered commercial vehicle with a heavier gross weight than registered. The heavier load may operate for only the period that the permit is valid, unless the owner purchases additional permits.
  • A vehicle registered with either Farm or Soil Conservation license plates when the vehicle is operating over the maximum weight allowed by law.

icon importantTimed Permits may not be issued to:

  • Any vehicle that has been issued a salvage or nonrepairable certificate of title
  • Any vehicle that has been apprehended

Vehicles operating with a 72- or 144-Hour Permit may operate at the maximum weight allowed under Texas registration laws.

A 72- or 144-Hour Permit is valid only in Texas.

Insurance Requirements

Applicants must show proof of liability insurance that meets the Texas minimum liability limits of $30,000/$60,000/$25,000. Insurance is not required for trailers and semitrailers. An insurance company authorized to write insurance in Texas must provide the coverage.

Vehicle Inspection

A vehicle displaying a 72- or 144-Hour Permit must pass the Texas Safety Inspection prior to being operated on the highways. If the vehicle displays current out-of-state license plates or the vehicle is mobile drilling or servicing equipment used in the production of gas or crude petroleum oil, a Texas Safety Inspection is not required.

Vehicles Registered in Combination

The following instructions apply when 72- or 144-Hour Permits are issued to trucks or truck-tractors with a gross weight in excess of 10,000 lbs. and semitrailers with gross weights in excess of 6,000 lbs. and the combined gross weight is greater than 18,000 lbs.:

  • A truck or truck-tractor displaying a 72- or 144-Hour Permit may not pull a semitrailer displaying a Token Trailer license plate. Token Trailer license plates are valid only when displayed on semitrailers pulled by vehicles registered with Combination, Forestry, Apportioned, or Seasonal Permit license plates for the combined gross weight of all the vehicles used in the combination. Therefore, if a pulling unit displays such a permit, each semitrailer operated in combination must also display a permit or trailer registration.
  • If a truck or truck-tractor displaying a Combination license plate pulls a semitrailer displaying a 72- or 144-Hour Permit, the pulling unit should be registered for the combined gross weight of all the vehicles in the combination. If the vehicle is not registered for a sufficient combined gross weight then the owner may increase the weight at the county, or may purchase a 72- or 144-Hour Permit for the pulling unit. The permit qualifies the combination for the maximum gross weight permitted under the registration laws.
  • A vehicle displaying Truck license plates cannot legally pull a semitrailer displaying a Token Trailer license plate. The semitrailer would need to display a 72- or 144-Hour Permit. This allows the owner to legally operate the combination without exchanging registration.
  • An out-of-state licensed power unit can legally pull a semitrailer displaying a Texas Token Trailer license plate. The power unit must be registered for a combined gross weight of the truck, trailer, and the load. The out-of-state vehicle must display a 72- or 144-Hour Permit on the pulling unit.
  • A properly licensed out-of-state power unit operating in Texas under the International Registration Plan may operate interstate or intrastate in Texas while pulling a semitrailer displaying a Texas Token Trailer license plate or a 72- or 144-Hour Permit. The out-of-state power unit must be registered for the combined gross weight of the truck, trailer, and the load.

One-Trip Permit

TxDMV issues a One-Trip Permit for the temporary movement of an unladen vehicle subject to Texas registration laws. A One-Trip Permit is valid for a period of 15 days from the effective date.

A One-Trip Permit is valid for one trip only between the point of origin and the point of destination and the intermediate point as shown on the receipt.

Purchase a One-Trip Permit

You may purchase a One-Trip Permit in the following ways:

Fee and Payment Information

A One-Trip Permit costs $5 and may be purchased prior to its effective date.

Fees are payable by:

  • MasterCard, VISA, Discover or American Express if purchasing the permit online or at a county tax office that accepts them. A service charge may be included.
  • Certified check or money order, payable to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Funds deposited in a pre-established escrow account
  • Cash

Note: Personal checks will not be accepted.

Eligible Use

One-Trip Permits may be issued for:

Vehicle or Trip Type Conditions
A bus for the transit of the vehicle only  The vehicle shall not at the time of transit be used for the transportation of property or passengers, unless it is operated for charter from another state
A charter bus from another state or country May carry property and passengers
A private bus May carry property and passengers
A commercial vehicle with a camper unit mounted thereon The camper unit may be of the permanent or slide-in type
A commercial vehicle that is not transporting any passengers or property Vehicle must be empty
A passenger car May carry property and passengers
An unladen truck or truck-tractor operating in combination with an unladen trailer or semitrailer If both vehicles are unregistered, two permits must be issued, one for each unit
Park Model trailers A house trailer-type vehicle that is 400 square feet or less measured at the largest horizontal projections
A motorcycle  
A trip in which the point of origin or the point of destination is in the State of Texas  

icon importantOne-Trip Permits may not be issued for:

  • Manufactured housing - A house trailer-type device that is 8 body feet or more in width or 40 body feet or more in length.
  • A charter bus based in Texas that is transporting passengers.
  • A commercial vehicle that is transporting the owner's household goods.
  • A boat trailer that is carrying a boat.
  • A laden luggage trailer or laden utility trailer.
  • A vehicle carrying a fixed load regardless of whether the vehicle is conventional or unconventional.
  • A vehicle that has been apprehended for operating unregistered.
  • A junked, salvage, or nonrepairable vehicle.
  • A trip that originates and terminates outside Texas.
Insurance Requirements

Applicants must show proof of liability insurance that meets the Texas minimum liability limits of $30,000/$60,000/$25,000. Insurance is not required for trailers and semitrailers. An insurance company authorized to write insurance in Texas must provide the coverage.

Vehicle Inspection

A vehicle displaying a current One-Trip Permit is exempt from displaying a current Texas Safety Inspection.

Permit Display

The permit must be displayed in the rear window of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a rear window, the operator must carry the permit and receipt in the vehicle any time the vehicle is in-transit.

30-Day Permit

TxDMV issues a 30-Day Permit for the temporary movement of a vehicle subject to Texas registration laws. A 30-Day Permit is valid for a period of 30 days from the effective date reflected on the permit.

No more than three 30-Day Permits will be issued per vehicle.

Purchase a 30-Day Permit

You may purchase a 30-Day Permit in the following ways:

Fee and Payment Information

A 30-Day Permit costs $25 and may be purchased prior to its effective date.

Fees are payable by:

  • MasterCard, VISA, Discover or American Express if purchasing the permit online or at a county tax office that accepts them. A service charge may be included.
  • Certified check or money order, payable to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Funds deposited in a pre-established escrow account
  • Cash

Note: Personal checks will not be accepted.

Eligible Use

The permit is available for passenger vehicles, motorcycles, private buses, trailers, and semitrailers with a gross weight not exceeding 10,000 lbs., and for light commercial vehicles not exceeding a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 lbs. A commercial vehicle exceeding a gross weight of 10,000 lbs. is eligible for the permit if operating unladen.

icon important30-Day Permits may not be issued for:

  • Vehicles that have been apprehended in Texas for operating unregistered or with expired license plates. In such instances, the owner must purchase registration and pay a penalty equal to 20% of the applicable fee.
  • Junked, salvage, or nonrepairable vehicles.
  • A vehicle that has been apprehended for operating unregistered.
Insurance Requirements

Applicants must show proof of liability insurance that meets the Texas minimum liability limits of $30,000/$60,000/$25,000. Insurance is not required for trailers and semitrailers. An insurance company authorized to write insurance in Texas must provide the coverage.

Permit Display

The permit must be displayed in the rear window of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a rear window, the operator must carry the permit and receipt in the vehicle any time the vehicle is in-transit.

Transit Permit

If you buy a car or truck and the seller keeps the Texas license plates, the Transit Permit allows you to legally drive the vehicle home or to your local county tax office.

vehicle-transit Print a Transit Permit

 

Only one Transit Permit may be issued per vehicle. Only passenger vehicles and light trucks are eligible.

The Transit Permit is valid for 5 days (maximum) from date of issuance; the start date is the day the permit is printed.

If the vehicle will travel out of state, please verify that this permit is valid for operation in that state. This permit may only authorize operation of the vehicle in Texas.

 

 

 

Rebuilt Vehicles

 

manufacturerA rebuilt vehicle, also known as “prior salvage,” means it was branded “salvage” but was rebuilt to road worthiness. A rebuilt vehicle must pass safety and anti-theft inspections, and other state-mandated standards in order to return to the road.

 

Rebuilt Title Brands

Your Texas title will include the "Rebuilt Salvage" brand.

NMVTIS Brand Description
Rebuilt Vehicle was previously branded “salvage” but was rebuilt to road worthiness..
Prior Owner Retained Vehicle was previously branded "Owner Retained" and was sold. The new owner's title contains this brand.
Prior Non-Repairable / Repaired Vehicle was constructed by repairing a vehicle that has been destroyed or declared to be non-repairable but has been issued a title pursuant to state law after falling within this criterion with this brand on the face of the certificate of title.

Rebuilt Vehicle Buying Tips

When looking to purchase a used vehicle you might see one with a rebuilt title. The term “rebuilt” varies slightly from state-to-state, but is generally used to describe a salvaged vehicle that was repaired or restored. The vehicle previously carried a salvage title after it was damaged and considered totaled and inoperable. However, the vehicle was restored and title changed from salvage to rebuilt.

Considerations when looking at purchasing a rebuilt vehicle:

  • What was the extent of damage and where was the vehicle repaired? Some companies use damaged parts or cut and weld pieces together to create a replacement part.
  • Was the frame damaged and was the frame aligned properly? A misaligned frame can cause excessive wear and strain to the drive train, wheels, tires and brakes.
  • Was the vehicle examined and certified by an independent and qualified mechanic? Have an expert mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle. Rebuilt vehicles can cause problems that will cost more to repair than the actual value of the vehicle.
  • Can the vehicle be insured? Often rebuilt vehicles are denied insurance. Check with your insurance agent before purchasing the vehicle.
  • How much is the vehicle worth? The value of rebuilt vehicles vary. However, they will always be worth substantially less because they were salvage vehicles.

 

“Two Steps, One Sticker”: Inspection & Registration Together at Last

 

As a result of House Bill 2305 passed during the 83rd legislative session, the State of Texas stopped issuing inspection stickers and transitioned to a “Two Steps, One Sticker” vehicle inspection and registration program. Since March 1, 2015, vehicles are no longer issued an inspection sticker. Your registration sticker serves as a combined proof of registration and inspection.

What's To Love “Two Steps, One Sticker”
  • One sticker, one date: Are you one of the millions of Texans whose inspection sticker and registration sticker expire in different months? With “Two Steps, One Sticker” you just have one sticker with one expiration date.
  • Less clutter, better view: Who wants multiple stickers in their view while behind the wheel? With “Two Steps, One Sticker” you just have the familiar blue-bordered registration sticker in the corner of your windshield.
  • Safer streets, cleaner air: Because a passing vehicle inspection is a requirement to renew your registration, more Texans will comply with the safety and emissions testing laws. So with “Two Steps, One Sticker” there will be safer and more environmentally-sound cars on the road.
  • Fraud prevention: With inspection stickers no longer needed under “Two Steps, One Sticker,” this change will eliminate the risk of inspection sticker fraud and theft.
Who’s At the Wheel
  • The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV): The TxDMV administers the state’s vehicle registration program.
  • The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS): The DPS administers the state’s vehicle safety inspection program.
  • The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ): The TCEQ administers the state’s vehicle emissions testing program.
Staying Informed on “Two Steps, One Sticker”

For more information, visit www.TwoStepsOneSticker.com

Water-Damaged Vehicles

 

2116263You can find out if the used vehicle you've been eying has ever been damaged by water or in a flood by going to Title Check and viewing the title history report. However, while you are out shopping, there are some signs or clues you can look for that may indicate the vehicle has water damage.

This category includes the following brands:

 

NMVTIS Brand Description Texas Brand
Flood Damaged The vehicle was damaged by freshwater flood or by flood of unknown origin. Flood Damage
Salt Water Damaged The vehicle was damaged by saltwater flood. Flood Damage
How to Spot a Water-Damaged Vehicle

The following inspection tips may help detect significant water damage on a vehicle:

  • Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.
  • Check for recently shampooed carpet, and check under the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.
  • Look for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting, and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for evidence of fading.
  • Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
  • Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where water would normally not reach unless submerged.
  • Check for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
  • Complete a detailed inspection of the electrical wiring system, looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
  • Inspect the undercarriage or other components for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late model vehicles.

While these inspection suggestions will not detect water damage in every case, they do provide some information to protect consumers from purchasing a vehicle damaged by water, such as flood. If you are considering purchasing a vehicle that you suspect may have been damaged by water, consider having it inspected by a licensed mechanic.

 

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