A Wisconsin car title is required by law on any vehicle, regardless of whether it will be driven. The certificate of title is a legal document that defines who owns a vehicle. You should apply for a vehicle title as soon as you purchase a new vehicle, or if you are gifted a car, as soon as you take possession of the car.

Failure to obtain a proper car title in WI can result in tickets and associated fines. Instructions for how to get car title documents are explained in detail in the sections organized below.

Where to Apply for a Car Title in Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin makes getting car title documents an easy process. Vehicle titles, whether for operable or non-operable vehicles, can be obtained in multiple ways. The easiest way to get car title applications processed is to use the online eMV application. This system provides a DMV car title if you have recently completed a private sale with another driver instead of purchasing the vehicle from a dealer, and only if the existing auto title was not issued out of state.

You may also get a Wisconsin title for car purchases via mail order, or appear in person at one of almost 100 Wisconsin DMV customer service centers. However, keep in mind that not all centers offer every type of DMV service, so you should call first to make sure they can process your title application.

The Wisconsin Auto Title Application

To get a new car title in Wisconsin online, initiate the eMV application. This new and used car title online service will require you to have a printer. To start the pink slip application online, you will need to locate your car title number on the upper left-hand corner of the existing car title.

On the other hand, be mindful that this number is not the vehicle identification number (VIN) but the one located beneath the VIN. Getting car title documents online requires the following additional information:

  • The vehicle’s year, make and model.
  • Your driver license number.
  • The last 4 digits of your Social Security Number.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your complete and current mailing address.
  • Form of payment: either credit card, debit card or check card, or bank account to pay by eCheck.
  • Odometer reading, but only on vehicles less than 10 years old.

The existing DMV car title should include an odometer statement on the back of the document, and this should be completed by the seller. On the front of the Wisconsin car title, you will notice an area devoted to lien information, where any record of previous lien releases should show up.

Documents You Must Provide When Applying for a New Car Title in Wisconsin

Wisconsin DMV car title applications must be accompanied by the required documents. First, you must have the original auto title, and the DMV requires you to send in the original vehicle certificate of title—not a photocopy. Additionally, you must make sure that the car title is properly signed by the seller(s).

If you are not eligible to apply for a new car title via the eMV system, you can apply by mail or in person. To apply for a certificate of title in Wisconsin by mail or in person, you will need the following:

  • Certificate of title signed by the previous owner.
  • Completed Form MV1, Wisconsin Title & License Plates.
  • License plates, if you plan to transfer them to the new vehicle. If your current plates expire in less than 3 months, include your annual registration fee.
  • Title fee and sales tax payment by check or money order payable to “Registration Fee Trust.”
  • Current WI driver license or copy for mail transactions.

What is a Wisconsin Car Registration?

Car registration allows you to legally operate your vehicle. Without it, even if you possess the car title, you cannot operate your vehicle. DMV car registration is not the same thing as a car title. However, you will need to get car registration in addition to a car title if you plan on driving your vehicle.

The process for obtaining new car registration is simple and can be done at the same time you apply for your vehicle title. Auto registration can be handled online via eMV, by mail or in person using Form MV1, Wisconsin Title & License Plates Application.

What is the Difference Between a Car Title and a Vehicle Registration in Wisconsin?

The essential difference between a new car registration and a new car title is that a car title shows proof of ownership, while the vehicle registration shows that the vehicle is legally operable on roadways. You are required to get motor vehicle registration, as well as a valid auto title.

WI car registration takes up to 12 days to process, and you must attach plates within two days of receiving them. Once you have submitted or mailed your new car registration application and paid associated fees for auto registration, it is legal to drive your car.

Car Title Costs in Wisconsin

Wisconsin titling fees will vary depending on the type of vehicle you drive and on the processing fee you may be charged depending on your method of application. With that in mind, you will find the standard Wisconsin fees, below:

  • Original Title or Title Transfer – $69.50
  • Title Transfer to surviving spouse or domestic partner – $62
  • Title for a low-speed vehicle – $62
Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.