Automobile Titles and Military Life


A few months ago, we made our last car payment on one of the vehicles we own. Yay! My husband and I have recently changed our state residency and it’s time to apply for license plates in our new home state. When I realized that our lender had not mailed the car title with the lien release to us, I naturally assumed that it had been returned to them because we have lived in four separate houses in the five years since we purchased the car. Because our payments were automatically debited from our checking account from the time we bought the car, I never bothered to update our many addresses with the lender over the years. Not a smart move….

But one quick phone call should clear this up, right?


Back in the old days, when you paid an automobile off, the lender mailed you a hard copy of the title with the lien release. Apparently that’s no longer the procedure in the digital age. The lender now sends an electronic version of the title/release to the state in which the automobile was originally titled and you have to request the title from the state. It’s not automatic. But who am I kidding, even if it were – they would have had a heck of a time trying to track us down!

Yesterday, I spent over an hour on the phone with the lender, the state in which the car was registered, the state in which the car was titled and the state which will issue new plates.

It’s just a hoot having a car purchased in one state, registered in another and titled in yet another. I mean, who doesn’t wake up every morning and hope they can speak with three different DMV offices that day?

Aye Yai Yai!

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.


    That’s odd that you don’t have the title to your vehicle. I received mine when I first registered it. It was brand new with a lien on it also. Though luckily, both of our vehicles are registered, tagged, titled, and until recently (I just paid mine off too! YAY!) paid on at our bank in our home state. The same will go when we replace my husband’s vehicle next year. We use my husband’s parent’s address as our permanent address so we only change the car insurance when we PCS. We also get great tax benefits since military doesn’t pay state tax in out home state. There is some military provision or law that allows us to do that as long as he is on Active orders. The only part that sucks (but not really) about us keeping them that way is we have to take a trip home once a year to renew the tags. But it gives us an excuse to see family and friends and get a small vacation.

  • Sarah

    We paid off our car when we were stationed in Germany. They mailed us an incomplete lien with instructions to take it to our DMV. Well, the “DMV” on post can’t title cars, so we filed it away. And then kinda forgot about it…until it was time to register our cars 3 years later. Then it became a mess…. :)

  • Amanda N

    Oh, I HAVE had this day… Just a few months ago! I do love talking to all the DMVs! came in a close second to my day(s) on the phone trying to get my colleges and universities in 3 different sates (and regions of the country i might add) to comprehend, complete and return my new state’s form so I could add yet another states teaching certificate to my growing pile of credentials. Aiy-Yi-yi! Moving is such fun!