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Title types and definitions

Find out about the different types of vehicle titles and their definitions.

Massachusetts classifies titles into types with sub-brands. A sub-brand is a secondary status that must be attached as a defining characteristic to a title to specify, as in the case of salvage vehicles, the occurrence that caused the damage.

Clear titles

This is a vehicle with no previous salvage notations, sub-brands, or legends.


This is a vehicle that has been declared a total loss resulting from damage, such as the following:

  • Collision

  • Theft

  • Fire

  • Vandalism

  • Flood

  • Other

Salvage titles have two categories:

  • Repairable - This is a vehicle that has been declared a total loss, but can be repaired. This requires at least one sub-brand of damage.

  • Parts only - This is a vehicle that has been declared a total loss and also unrepairable due to extensive damage. The vehicle can never be re-titled or registered in Massachusetts. A parts-only title does not need a sub-brand.


This is a vehicle that was previously titled as salvage-repairable.  The vehicle has been repaired, and has passed a salvage inspection. This title requires at least one sub-brand of damage.

Recovered theft

This is a vehicle previously titled as salvage-repairable with a theft sub-brand. These vehicles must have minimal damage. This title always requires the sub-brand of theft and may also have other sub-brands (if applicable).


This is when an insurance company deems a vehicle to be a total loss.  The owner then chooses to keep possession of the vehicle. The vehicle must have an active registration and be capable of driving.


This is a non-negotiable title issued when someone:

  • Brings a vehicle from out-of-state to Massachusetts.

  • Has a lien.

  • The lienholder is in possession of the out-of-state title.

A memorandum title is not transferable unless accompanied by the out-of-state title.


Junk vehicles

Any person who takes possession of a motor vehicle for the purpose of junking or scrapping must surrender the vehicle's certificate of title, salvage title, or any other document required by the Registrar as proof of ownership to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for cancellation within 10 days of receiving the vehicle. The record pertaining to a scrapped or junked vehicle is labeled "JUNK" and can never be titled or registered again in the Commonwealth.

Recovered theft or reconstructed

To apply for a reconstructed title or recovered theft title, you must bring the following documents in person to any RMV Service Center:

  • A completed application for title and registration (RMV-1 form). If registering the vehicle, the RMV-1 form must be stamped by your insurance agent
  • The current salvage repairable title with the assignment of title section(s) on the back of the title completed, and an authorization for payoff of a salvage sehicle (if applicable)
  • The certificate of salvage Inspection, completed by an inspector, stamped with the Registrar's signature
  • Current certificate of registration (if applicable)
  • $75.00 title fee

Please allow 4 to 6 weeks after receipt of the application for a reconstructed title or recovered theft title to be processed and mailed.

Additional Resources for Recovered theft or reconstructed

Undocumented bonded vehicles

A vehicle is considered undocumented when the purchaser does not have all the documents required to transfer ownership and apply for a certificate of title. The RMV can register and title an undocumented vehicle at its discretion. As a condition of issuing a certificate of title, the RMV may require the customer to file a bond in an amount equal to one and one half times the National Automobile Dealers Association clean trade-in value of the undocumented vehicle.


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