Removing a Lien in Illinois

If you financed your car and are still paying off your car loan, you may have a lien on your car title. That means, in the eyes of the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS), your vehicle will belong to someone else. However, once you've satisfied your loan, you can have the lien removed.

What Is a Lien?

A lien is a form of legal protection for a property owner. It ensures that he or she will receive compensation for something they have sold if you should fail to make the full payment for the item.

When a lien is placed on your car title, it gives the lienholder the legal right to repossess your vehicle should you default on your car loan or cease to make payments.

A car title lien can also allow the lienholder to determine the level of car insurance that must be placed on the car until the time that the loan is paid in full.

Who Are IL Lienholders?

The individual or entity responsible for issuing your car loan is the lienholder. Usually, the lienholder is a bank, credit union, or other financial firm. Until the car loan has been satisfied, the lienholder may also be referred to as the legal car owner.

The lienholder's name will appear on the car title, and the title will be in possession of the lienholder until the time that the car loan has been paid in full.

Remove a Lien from an IL Title

To remove a lien from your car title, you will need to submit one of the following items to your local Illinois SOS office location:

  • A lien clearance letter or a lien contract letter from your lienholder explaining that the lien has been satisfied.
  • A court order telling the Secretary of State's office to issue a title without the lien.
    • The court order must include:
      • The year, make, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car in question.
      • The signature of the judge presiding over the case.
      • The field stamp of the clerk's office.

Once you've completed the application process, a new vehicle title without the lien information will be sent to your address.

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