A Certificate of Title for a motor vehicle is a legal document issued by a state to certify the vehicle’s ownership and the lienholder that financed the purchase of the vehicle (if applicable). Each state in the U.S. issues its own Titles. These Titles may contain different designs and security features to deter counterfeiting or illegal reproduction and to make alterations or erasures to any information visible to the naked eye. All Titles share most of the basic information to convey ownership of a vehicle. This information includes the vehicle's owner, vehicle information, and lienholder (if applicable).
A Certificate of Title contains the following information:
• A complete description of the vehicle, including:
o Title number
o Date of issuance
o Date of purchase
o Model year
o Vehicle make
o Model name
o Body style
o Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
• Lienholder (if applicable) listed on the front of the Title, or a lien release indicated on the front of the Title
• Assignment spaces on the reverse side of the Title that allow for the transfer of ownership. The first assignment of the vehicle is used to transfer ownership from the owner to the purchaser. The remaining assignments are reserved for the use of licensed dealers only
• Odometer disclosure*
• Security features to deter alterations or counterfeits
*The odometer disclosure is a Federal requirement which provides purchasers of motor vehicles with odometer information to assist them in determining a vehicle's condition and value by making the disclosure of a vehicle's mileage a condition of Title and by requiring lessees to disclose to their lessors the vehicle's mileage at the time the lessors transfer the vehicle. Please see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Website for more information on Odometer Fraud.
According to Massachusetts law, whoever alters, forges, or counterfeits a Certificate of Title or supporting documents, such as a lien release, or uses such a false or altered document will be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1000) or by imprisonment in a state prison for not more than five years, or in a house of correction for not more than two years, or both. See Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90D Section 32 for more information.