Removing a Lien in Maryland
If you took a loan out on your car and are still paying off your loan, you may have a lien on your car title. In the eyes of the law and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), that means you will not be the legal owner of your car until the car loan is satisfied.
Once you've completed making payments, however, you can remove the lien from your car title.
What Is a Lien?
A property owner or service provider may have a lien on your vehicle as a type of insurance policy. The lien will give them the legal right to compensation for any money lost through a defaulted loan or unpaid service bill.
In the case of a car title, a lien will give your lienholder the ability to repossess the vehicle in the event that you cannot complete payments on their car loan.
Who Is a Lienholder in Maryland?
A lienholder is the person or company at risk of losing money should a loan default or a service bill go unpaid. In the case of a title lien, the individual or entity responsible for writing your car loan is the lienholder—usually a bank, credit union, or financial firm.
Until the car loan has been satisfied, the lienholder may also be referred to as the legal car owner.
Other Types of Maryland Lienholders
In Maryland, a mechanic's lien can also be placed on your vehicle. This would establish the lienholder as:
- A person or company who did repair work to your car.
- A towing company.
- A vehicle storage company.
In these cases, the car could be sold at a public auction in order to settle the debt.
Remove a Lien from Your MD Title
Once you've paid off your car loan, the lienholder is obligated to send you a completed Maryland Notice of Security Interest Filing (Form VR-217) or a letter of lien release on the lienholder's official letterhead.
This will be sufficient documentation of the lien release, but you can also choose to apply for a clear title by bringing to your local Maryland MVA office:
- Your current vehicle title.
- The completed Maryland Notice of Security Interest Filing (Form VR-217).
- The lien release letter.
If you don't have your current title, you can instead submit:
- A completed Application for Duplicate Title (Form VR-018).
- The lien release letter.
- The $20 duplicate title fee.
You may also mail everything to:
Title File Unit
6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
Glen Burnie, MD 21062
If you have questions, contact the Motor Vehicle Administration Customer Service Center at:
- (410) 768-7000.
- Hearing impaired hotline: (301) 729-4563.
Buying a Used Car with a Lien
If you purchase a used car that requires a lien release on its current Maryland title, the process to remove the lien is slightly different.
You will need to submit:
- A completed and signed Maryland Notice of Security Interest Filing (Form VR-217).
- A lien release letter on the lienholder's letterhead. The letter must include:
- The secured party (lienholder)'s name & phone number.
- Name of the debtor.
- Vehicle description, including:
- Vehicle identification number (VIN).
- Financial account number of the lien.
- Date the lien was released.
- Printed name, signature and title of the lienholder's representative.
- Date and amount of original lien.
IF YOU SUBMIT A LIEN RELEASE LETTER: A photocopy of of the driver's license or state-issued ID of the person sending the letter must be included.
If the lienholder is not a financial institution, the lien release letter must be notarized.