certificate of title

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A certificate of title is an official document issued by the state, usually a registrar or other public officer, that notes the owner(s) of personal or real property. It serves the purpose of proving the right of ownership, and it typically applies to real estate, but it can also apply to a business, boat, or vehicle, among other things. A certificate of title is usually transferred from seller to buyer in real estate and vehicle transactions. However, the certificate itself does not serve as a guarantee of a free and clear title on the property, and a title search must be conducted before settling large transactions.

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]