Do ATVs Have Titles: What You Need to Know


Most vehicles on the road need to have a title.  The vehicle’s title states the owner and operator of said vehicle. Of course, ATVs are not like most vehicles. Some of them may never even go near a road. So, do ATVs have titles? Let’s take a look.


When did ATVs start having titles?

A lot of this will depend on the state. Most of them didn’t start requiring titles on their ATVs until at least the 90s. Some started much later, and there is even the odd state that still doesn’t require a title on any ATVs there. It is very rare that you will see a title on an ATV that was purchased before the mid-1990s. There is no legal requirement to have on then, even if the law for a state has now changed.

How to register an ATV without a title

So, now you know that the answer to the question ‘do ATVs have titles?’ Is not always ‘yes’, you may find yourself in a position where you have an ATV that does not have a title. You need to get one.

If you have purchased an ATV without a title, you have a responsibility to get a title as soon as you possibly can. Luckily, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do. You just need to head to your local DMV, or check whether they have a title registration option online. You will need to supply them with a bit of information, though. This includes:

  • The VIN number of the ATV
  • The addresses of the buyer and the seller
  • Details on the price and purchase date of the vehicle

Different states will require different types of information. For example; the state of New York requires you to provide proof that the vehicle was purchased in New York and that sales tax was paid on the ATV. Exceptions are made if you have purchased the ATV used, but they will still need proof that the transaction was carried out in New York. It is very rare that they will allow vehicles purchased in the state to be registered there.

If you have bought a vehicle without a title ‘used’, then you will need to bring the seller along with you. They will need to sign to say that they agree you are now the owner of the vehicle. Some states may allow them to send information in instead, but this is rare.

How to obtain a title for an ATV

Thankfully, obtaining a title for an ATV that already has an ATV isn’t anywhere near as difficult as registering a new title. Although, once again, this is something that will be dependent on the state that you live in.

Most states will require that the seller of the vehicle fills in a form known as a ‘title certificate’. Once this has been filled in and submitted to the DMV, the vehicle will now legally have a new owner. It is unlikely that the seller will need to be in attendance for this. They can just hand the buyer the certificate and everything is fine.

If you purchase an ATV from a dealer, then they will probably help with you gaining the vehicle title. It is part of the service that they offer.

Should you buy an ATV without a title?

When you are thinking ‘do ATVs have titles?, your main question should be whether you should purchase a used ATV that doesn’t have a title. The answer is ‘no’, and this even applies to a state that may not require titles on ATVs that are used there. There are a few reasons for this.

ATVs are very prone to theft. Without a title, particularly on a newer ATV, there is a chance that it was stolen. If it has been stolen, then you can’t do anything when the actual owner finds that you now have their ATV. You will have to hand the ATV to the real owner, and you will be out an ATV.

If you do purchase an ATV without a title, then at least carry out a VIN search to ensure that you are not purchasing a stolen vehicle.

A title will also show whether there are any liens against an ATV. A lot of people willö purchase an ATV using finance. This means that the lender has a vested interest in the ATV until the financing has been paid off. You will need to carry out a title search to make 100% sure that you are the sole owner of that vehicle, even if the original owner has financing against the vehicle and fails to pay it back.

Selling an ATV without a title

Ideally, you wouldn’t try to sell an ATV without a title. Most serious buyers of ATVs know that an ATV without a title will be a huge red flag. This means that you will either get zero sales on your ATV, or you will receive incredibly low offers. Neither is ideal.

If you have no choice but to sell an ATV without a title, then you will need to take huge steps to prove that you are the legal owner of the vehicle. Gather as much documentation as you can about the operation of the vehicle. This includes when you bought it, or maybe repair and maintenance history of the vehicle.

If you can, before the sale, you may want to try to register the vehicle and obtain a title on it. It will make the sale a lot easier, and it will probably benefit the purchaser in the long term too.


So, there you have it. If somebody asks you ‘do 4 wheelers have titles?’, the answer is yes. Although, titles haven’t always existed for ATVs. They will only exist for ATVs sold after the mid-1990s, and that will be dependent on the state. However, it is never recommended that you purchase an ATV without a title nowadays. It has the potential to cause far too many headaches.


More information

For more information on choosing the right ATV, check out some of our other buying guides: