Vehicle Title
Export cars from the U.S. Buyer Tips

Car Titles 101: Buying a Vehicle with a Pending Title

By Daisy Emah-Emah Posted: 05/23/2021

Have you come across a vehicle with a pending title and wondered what they mean? Or have you bought a vehicle with a Title Pending, only to forfeit the vehicle after heavy storage fees? 


Title pending vehicles can be very challenging to buy if you don’t understand what they mean or how to go about purchasing them. Yes, they may be slightly cheaper than other options, but overall very costly if you don’t plan for it.


Before understanding pending title’s you need to know what car titles are. A car title is a legal document that indicates ownership information about a vehicle issued by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 


A vehicle title has the owner’s data and vehicle information. This includes the mileage and condition of the vehicle. A title is essential because it shows proof of ownership. The information in a car title includes the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the year, make, model, and the mileage at the time the title was issued to the owner. 


Before buying a used vehicle be sure to verify availability and the type of title your intended vehicle has. This is to avoid local title renewal issues if you are buying to use domestically, or export issues if you intend to ship out of the US. 


bonded title



Without a valid title, vehicles will not be allowed for export by both the port authorities and U.S Customs.  Your vehicle will be automatically rejected regardless of the shipping method, RORO, or container shipping.


The seller or sellers in the case of multiple ownership or a vehicle with an outstanding lien will need to sign over the title transfer before it is transferred to you, the buyer as an acknowledgment or recognized/legal change of ownership. 


So What does a Pending Title Mean For Foreign Buyers? 

A vehicle with a pending title means that the vehicle’s title has not been received at the auction clearinghouse at the time the car was put on auction.


It can be for a wide range of reasons including lien, repossession, or title loss. Also, the owner may be uncomfortable leaving the original title at the auction. The seller may make it available within 24hrs of purchase.


Since a vehicle with the pending title cannot be shipped out of the US if you are buying for export. You may incur storage fees from the auction house or from the shipping company. That is if the vehicle is stored in their location pending when the title is available and transferred. 


On average, title processing could take about 14-30 days from the date of sales before it is available. Some shipping companies offer storage and may agree to store your vehicle for up to 30days while the title is being processed. Once the 30 days elapse and the title is not ready you will be charged daily storage fees. Others may charge you on a weekly basis till they have the title and can submit the car at the ports for export


Salvage Title Insurance Cars Auctions


A lot of buyers purchase vehicles with pending titles because it is cheaper. This can work if you are in the US.  If you want to ship out of the US it is advisable not to purchase vehicles with pending titles. 


To avoid delay or an increased budget, it is advisable to avoid bidding on vehicles with pending titles if exporting. There are different types of vehicle titles such as salvage titles, which you can read up here


How Does Auto Auction Mall help?


When purchasing through Auto Auction Mall, our Auction Specialist will let you know if the vehicle you are interested in has a pending title or not. They will also advise you on what to do and how best to avoid storage. 


You can sign up here to get started. 


You may come across some vehicles with special document types when purchasing vehicles from an auction. It is advisable not to bid on these vehicles to avoid not being able to export these vehicles.