Ownership in doubt is a process where you can get either Registration Only or a Bonded Title for a period of 3 years, when proof of ownership or release of interest from the previous owner is not available. Ownership in Doubt ONLY applies to vehicles or vessels acquired by purchase, exchange, gift, lease, or inheritance. It does not apply to unauthorized vehicles or vessels abandoned on public or private property. There are different processes to remove these vehicles depending on where and for how long they have been abandoned, as well as their state of disrepair.
3 Year Registration Only
If you have an Ownership in Doubt vehicle, and apply for registration only successfully, you will receive plates and registration for that vehicle in your name. You will NOT be issued a title for a period of 3 years. You may sell the vehicle within Washington using a notarized bill of sale or release of interest, and the 3 year timer will not reset for the new owner. At the end of the 3 year period, or earlier if the appropriate release is acquired, the current owner may apply for a clear title from any vehicle licensing office.
In order to apply for a Bonded Title for an ownership in doubt vehicle, you must apply for a bond worth 1.5 times the vehicle's value. In this instance, if the application is successful, you would receive plates and registration, as well as a title with a "BONDED" brand. The bond must be maintained for the 3 year ownership in doubt period. After the 3 year period is up, the current owner may apply for a clear title from any vehicle licensing office.
There are several steps before applying for 3 Year Registration Only or a Bonded Title. There is full explanation in our Ownership in Doubt handout. You will also need to complete a Bonded Title or Three-Year Registration Without Title Affidavit, explaining how the vehicle or vessel came to be in your possession.