It will vary from state to state. Also, the $ amount of the ATV is a factor.
I have a '96 Honda 90 that did not have a title. There 'was' a title but the owner lost it somewhere. I had no question about that story as the owner was a close friend of the dealer he bought it from - as am I. All I had to do was turn in some paperwork with a tracing of the VIN, let the state guys do a search to verify it wasn't stolen and we got a new title.
Now, my Can-Am is a different story. I bought it out of state from a police detective in Georgia. As he only drove it on his own acreage, he never got a title. I paid all my taxes and did paperwork back in TN so I could ride on public land but I still haven't followed through on getting a new title. In this case, since the purchase price was above $6,500.00 the rules were a little different. I would need to get a bonded letter from the former owner stating why there was no original title plus I would have to get a local police officer physically look at the ATV and verify the VIN number. Plus, I would have to provide a $200 bond. Since I have already paid all the fees to the state, they are not too concerned. Now that I've owned the ATV for 3 years it's value is below the $6,500 cap, so I really can finish this up anytime.
'07 Can-Am Outlander 800 XT - Crutchfield stage I Extremes all around
'02 Eiger 5-speed / mudlites
Past bikes: '89 Warrior, '97 Warrior, '98 LT80, '94 King Quad 300, '84 LT50