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How To Get The Ownership of a Motorcycle With No Ownership

So you just bought a vintage motorcycle, or someone else’s basket case project bike, or maybe it’s a low kilometer barn find. It was a steal of a deal, and you had to have it. You get home with your motorcycle and boxes of parts, only to find that there is no ownership for the vehicle. Now what? How do you get the ownership of a motorcycle with no ownership?

This article is specific to people in the province of Ontario, Canada, however, transportation policies aren’t always all that different between provinces and states, so you may want to read along anyway. If you want to know how to get the ownership of a motorcycle with no ownership, this will still be a very helpful read for many.

First, we’ll look at common reasons why ownerships and motorcycles get split up. Then, we’ll talk about what to do about it, from easiest to most complex. Lastly, I’ll include a sworn affidavit that I had notarized by a lawyer, that you can use too.

Why motorcycles and ownership papers split up

Time has away of taking things away from us, and ownership papers are no exception, but there are a few other reasons that I’ve come across for lost ownerships over the past few years, including:

  • Crazy ex-girlfriends (seriously)
  • Other provinces/states which handle vehicle registry digitally (no printed ownership)
  • Natural disasters
  • Theft recoveries
  • Repossession recoveries

This is fairly self-explanatory, and if you’re reading this, you likely know how you’ve ended up at this point, so I’ll move ahead.

How to get the ownership of a motorcycle with no ownership

The first thing to do is to reach out to the seller. This can often be a quick and easy mix-up that can be fixed with a visit to the Ministry of Transportation  of Ontario (Department of Transportation for our American friends).

  • If the seller had the vehicle registered to his/her name, he/she will be able to go to the Ministry of Transportation (Department of Transportation) and have a new registration / ownership printed for a marginal cost. This can then be signed over to you

Note: Sometimes the seller may be unable to help you. For example, the Ministry of Transportation may refuse to reissue a vehicle registration if seller has outstanding tickets to be paid, outstanding child support payments to make, or the vehicle is not registered in their name.

On her way to the lawyer

But first, when to walk away…

If the seller is trying to sell you a motorcycle that is not registered in their name and does not have an ownership, walk away. We can’t help you, and what we’re about to suggest might not work for you. You might find yourself unable to legally get your motorcycle registered and plated, or worse: in possession of a stolen motorcycle. Seriously, walk away.

We have nothing against buying a motorcycle from someone who doesn’t have the ownership in their own name, provided that ownership is official and signed, you should be ok. People sell motorcycles for friends or older relatives all the time. But if they don’t have the ownership to go with it, be suspicious, and play it safe.

How get the ownership of a motorcycle with no ownership when the seller can’t help

In order to obtain ownership and register a motorcycle without an ownership registration in your hands, you’ll need a sworn affidavit, signed and notarized by a lawyer. On this affidavit you’ll need to include:

  • All relevant dates
    • Date of purchase
    • Communication dates (if possible)
    • Date of declaration (today’s date)
  • What the purchase was
    • Year/Make/Model
    • VIN#
    • Purchase price
    • Note: All of this info should be in line with what is on your Bill of Sale
  • Seller’s information
    • Full name
    • Address
    • Phone number
  • All information relevant to your need for the ownership/registration of this vehicle.
    • Declare that you are the legal and rightful owner
    • Declare the purchase of the motorcycle in question
    • Explain why the ownership was not available at time of vehicle purchase
    • Declare where the motorcycle was last registered (Province or State, and if possible, when)
    • Declare what you’ve done to try to get the ownership, and/or what the seller has done
    • If the seller was unable to help you, explain why

The next step are the most important: Include a piece of evidence for everything that you say. See below for an example.

This was my affidavit:

Affidavit to get the ownership of a motorcycle with no ownership

For example, for point 2 a. (Seller) was not able to supply the original ownership of the frame as it was lost or stolen during his move. I gave the following screenshot:

Evidence

I also included a screenshot of an email where he said he was unable to obtain the ownership because he owed child support and the province of Alberta (where his motorcycle was registered) would not assist him until he paid up on his outstanding child support bills. You really need to make sure that everything you mention has some kind of piece of evidence to support the claim, otherwise, a lawyer may choose not to notarize it.

Lastly, a lawyer will likely need to physically see the motorcycle. The lawyer will likely want to see that the vehicle is in your possession, and that the description and VIN# match what you claim in your document.

Download Free Affidavit Sample

You can download a free affidavid example, here.

Last steps / 5 Step Checklist

  1. Put together your affidavit package, complete with all evidence and have an appointment with your lawyer.
  2. Hire my kick-ass company, Motorcycle Towing Toronto, to tow your motorcycle to the lawyer’s office.
  3. Have the lawyer notarize your affidavit.
  4. Take the affidavit to the Ministry of Transportation (Department of Transportation) in the US.
  5. Pay taxes on the vehicle purchase and get new ownership in your name.

If your motorcycle was last registered in Ontario, that’s it, you’re done! That’s how you get the ownership of a motorcycle with no ownership.

If your motorcycle was last registered outside of the province, you have one more step. The Ministry needs a proof of registration from somewhere, in order to complete the transaction. In my case, they provided me with a phone number for an Alberta office, they in turn gave me a second number to call, and that person sent a fax to my Ontario ministry office directly.

Questions? Comments?

Have any questions? Leave them in the comments section below. Also, we love hearing about when we’re able to help our readers, so if this helped you, please leave a blurb in the comments section!

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YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?

6 comments

  1. How about creating an ownership for a bike that’s never been registered in Ontario? Now that’s a challenge.

    • Hey Jay. Thanks for asking. This is exactly how I obtained the ownership for a motorcycle that was never registered in Ontario. It was however registered in Alberta, but was never Ontario registered. Check out that second last paragraph again:

      If your motorcycle was last registered outside of the province, you have one more step. The Ministry needs a proof of registration from somewhere, in order to complete the transaction. In my case, they provided me with a phone number for an Alberta office, they in turn gave me a second number to call, and that person sent a fax to my Ontario ministry office directly.

      Where have you run into problems?

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