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How To Get An Abandoned Vehicle Title in Alabama

If you’ve come to possess an abandoned vehicle in the state of Alabama, you may be able to get the vehicle titled in your name. Unlike some states, Alabama allows for the finder to buy the vehicle at a public auction. But first, there are certain steps that need to be taken before you can register the car in your name.

What is an abandoned vehicle in Alabama?

Abandoned vehicles are vehicles that have been left on private property by their owner with no further intentions to collect or dispose of the vehicle. If you know who owns the car or know how it got on the property, it is not considered to be an abandoned vehicle.

An abandoned vehicle in Alabama is defined as a motor vehicle that has been:

  • Unattended for more than 48 hours on private property without the consent of the property owner
  • Left for repairs for more than 48 hours after the date the repairs were completed

How do you get an abandoned vehicle title in Alabama?

Unclaimed/Abandoned Vehicle Portal

To begin the abandoned vehicle process in Alabama, within five days of the vehicle being considered abandoned, you must first electronically notify the Alabama DMV of the abandoned vehicle through the Unclaimed/Abandoned Vehicle Portal. This electronic report must include the following information:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • License plate number (if applicable)
  • Your name, address, and phone number
  • The date the vehicle was deemed abandoned*

*The date the vehicle was deemed abandoned is the most important date to remember for this process. The time requirements for this process will be determined by the date that is provided to the DMV.

Additionally in the first five days, the entity or person in possession of the abandoned vehicle must check the VIN against the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) to obtain the last titled state.

Once the Alabama DMV receives your full report, they will place a 45-60 day hold on the title. This means that for those 45-60 days, no one can transfer or make changes to the vehicle title.

Request prior owner information

Once you have obtained the last titled state, use the process that matches the last titled state:

  • If the vehicle was last titled in Alabama, submit an Abandoned Motor Vehicle Record Request to the Alabama DMV. This is a formal request for the information and other forms may not be used for this purpose.
  • If the vehicle was not last titled in Alabama, submit a DPPA request to that particular state in which it was last titled. You may do this by mail or some agencies provide an online service. Note that not all states provide DPPA information. If you cannot obtain the legal records, you cannot proceed with the abandoned vehicle process.

Send a notice of possession via certified mail

Within five days of receiving this information from the appropriate motor vehicle agency, you must report the owner and lienholder information into the Unclaimed/Abandoned Vehicle Portal and send a notice of possession to the current owner and secured party. The notice of possession must be sent to the parties provided by the motor vehicle agency, information from other sources is not permitted. The notice must state that you are in possession of the abandoned vehicle and intend to sell it at a public auction. During these five days, the DMV will send an official notice of termination to the current owner and lienholder. The current owner and lienholders will have 30 days from the time of notification to come forward to claim the vehicle. If the current owner or lienholder claims the vehicle, you must report it in the Unclaimed/Abandoned Vehicle Portal as redeemed and this will end the process.

Public notification and auction

After the current owners and lienholders have been notified, you place a notice of public auction in the Unclaimed/Abandoned Vehicle Portal and notify the public through a circulating publication. A circulating publication would be considered a local newspaper, meaning you can’t just post it on the bulletin board of a laundromat. You must provide these notices at least 35 days prior to the scheduled auction date.

In your notice and publication, you must include the following:

  • Your name and address
  • Name and address of the owner
  • Vehicle information
  • Date and time of public auction

Hold a public auction and sell the vehicle

After 35 days, the vehicle may be sold at a public auction. Once it’s sold, you must update the report in the Unclaimed/Abandoned Vehicle Portal. You’ll need to provide the following information in your report:

  • Bill of sale
  • Vehicle description
  • All dates pertaining to the process (initial date, auction date, certified mail, etc.)
  • Name of the newspaper or circulating publication
  • Dates of the publications
  • Sale proceeds amount
  • Buyer and seller information

Anyone from the public can bid on the vehicle, including you as the entity in possession. If the bid is higher than the value of the vehicle, you must remit the additional balance to the county. You cannot keep excess proceeds from the public auction of an abandoned vehicle.

Once the vehicle is sold, the new owner must get the vehicle title put into their name immediately. Additionally, if you use this process, you must maintain the electronic record for a period of three years and be subject to audit if necessary.

Failure to follow any of these requirements and to properly record all events in the portal will result in forfeiture of all claims and liens on the vehicle, you’ll lose all rights to the vehicle. The portal is only designed for abandoned vehicles. Remember, a vehicle is not abandoned if you know where it came from. If you purchase a vehicle without a title from a private seller, you can’t use the abandoned vehicle title process because, in this process, you sign an affidavit that states you did not create this abandoned vehicle circumstance in order to obtain a title for a non-abandoned vehicle. This may be considered a felony and there are legal consequences for this action.

This process isn’t designed to fix a title problem, but rather to get rid of a vehicle in your way. If you’re looking to remove or title an abandoned vehicle in Alabama, this overview will help you get started on the process. 

Want a professional to do it for you?

For as little as $159 for most processes, we will save you the headache and prepare all of the car title paperwork needed to get you a new title. Simply choose the title recovery method you’d like to use and we’ll get started!

Select your title recovery method:

Order Vermont Title LoopholeOrder Deceased Owner Title TransferOrder Bonded Title ProcessOrder Abandoned Vehicle ProcessOrder Prior Owner ContactOrder Lien Release Request Letter

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Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. If it’s your car, you deserve a title.

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