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What Is A Vehicle Lien Release & How To Get One

Order Lien Release Request

The vehicle lien release is a government-issued document that officially declares that the lien on your vehicle title has been removed and you will be free to take action with your vehicle. This document removes any restrictions on what you can do with your car. A vehicle lien release is an essential step to selling, trading, or giving away your car. A person is typically eligible for a vehicle lien release when the loan on the vehicle has been paid back to the lender. However, this isn’t an instantaneous process. Depending on the availability of your lender, there may be additional steps to take to obtain a vehicle lien release.

What is a lien title?

A vehicle lien title or a lien title is the designation of vehicle title that states the lienholder (aka your lender) is the owner of the vehicle until the lien (aka your auto loan) is paid back in full. Many vehicle owners have this type of title designation unless they’ve purchased their vehicle without the help of a lender. This type of title designation has limitations for the buyer and does not have the full range of abilities as the clear title designation.

What is a clear title?

A clear title is a vehicle title that has no liens, hold, or any other special interests or designations. A clear title has the owner’s name on the front (not the lienholder) and allows the owner to do as they please with their vehicle.

Vehicle lien release process

The vehicle lien release process will differ depending on your state, your situation, and your lender, but there are 4 main steps to this process:

  • Step 1: Locate the lienholder
  • Step 2: Compile the lien release request letter and letter of non-interest
  • Step 3: Mail your lien release request copies via certified mail
  • Step 4: Obtain your vehicle lien release and apply for a clear title

Locating your lienholder

The lienholder of your title is the lender of your auto loan. If you’re not sure who that is, check your bank records and identify the business entity that received your monthly car payments. Once that entity is identified, make note of the mailing address, physical address, registered agent address, corporate address, and any other address listed for this entity. This information can be pulled from the lienholder’s website or through your state’s Secretary of State business entity database.

Compiling your lien release request letter and letter of non-interest

Create at least five sets of copies for your lien release request. To officially request your lien be released from your vehicle title, you must send your lienholder a lien release request letter. In this letter, you must include the following:

  • VIN
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Owner name
  • Lienholder information

The letter of non-interest is in the event that your lienholder has no further interest in collecting on the lien and would like to legally sign off on their interests. The letter of non-interest should include all of the contents of the lien release request letter and should also provide a section where the lienholder can sign away their interests.

Mailing your lien release request via certified mail

Using the addresses you found for your lienholder, mail a set of your copies to each of the addresses via certified mail. In each envelope, you should include:

  • Lien release request letter
  • Letter of non-interest
  • Pre-labeled and pre-stamped return envelope

It may seem redundant to mail identical copies to multiple locations, but this is the best way to ensure that your lien release request is received. Most lienholders do not have a lien release department with staff standing by to release liens as they come in. Due to this, it’s important to attempt to reach as many locations as possible to reach the correct recipient or at least the recipient that has the ability to help.

Mailing your letter via certified mail will create a paper trail that proves you are attempting to release a lien on your vehicle title. This evidence will come in handy later if your lender cannot be located.

Getting the vehicle lien release and applying for a clear title

When your lienholder has released your lien or signed off on the letter of non-interest, the documents they provide to you can be taken to the DMV and you are now able to apply for a clear title! Your state DMV can then assist you in the application process. Before you go to the DMV, make sure you have the funds allocated for registration and taxes.

What if I can’t locate my lienholder?

Oftentimes when a lienholder or lender can’t be located, it means they’ve gone out of business. However, lenders don’t just close up shop and forget about their customers. Lenders will often be acquired by other companies or they’ll sell their loans to another financial institution to continue being paid off. If you can’t locate your lender, look to see if they were bought out or transferred their business to another entity.

If my car loan is paid off, why do I have to remove the lien?

If the loan is paid off, but the lien is on the title, you aren’t the owner. If you have a lien title, your lender is considered the owner. Requesting a lien release to apply for a clear title is an important part of keeping your assets safe from theft. Additionally, if your lienholder is listed on the title as the owner and you lost the title, you will not be able to apply for a duplicate title since it was not your name last printed. Removing a lien after the loan is paid off keeps you and your assets safe and secure.

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

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