Removing a Lien in Pennsylvania

If you took out a loan on your car and are still in the process of paying it off, there is likely a lien on your car title. But even once you've paid the loan in full, the car won't legally be considered yours in Pennsylvania until you get the lien removed. You can do this at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

What Is a Vehicle Lien?

A lien is similar to an insurance policy for a lender, property owner, or service provider. It protects them from losing out monetarily in the event that a loan or bill goes unpaid.

In Pennsylvania, a lien on your car title will allow the lienholder to repossess your car if you cease making payments or default on your loan.

Your lienholder or the PA DOT is required to notify you before this process takes place.

Lienholders in Pennsylvania

The person or company providing the money up front in a transaction is usually the lienholder.

The lienholder on your PA car title is the corporation or individual who wrote your car loan. Most of the time, a lienholder on a car title will be a financial institution, like a bank, credit union or other lender.

If you were issued a paper title in Pennsylvania, your lienholder will be in possession of it—and also have their name on the document—until you've satisfied your loan.

Removing a Lien from a PA Title

Pennsylvania has established an electronic lien and title (ELT) program, which means that many titles will be issued and stored on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's computers. If your lienholder is a participant in the program, your lien will be released electronically.

If you were issued a paper title, your lienholder will mail it to you, either marked as paid or with a separate lien satisfaction document, after receiving your final payment.

If you want a new title that doesn't show the lien (commonly referred to as a “clear title"), you must submit to your local PennDOT office:

Forms

MV-38L
Application for Duplicate Title or to Record, Renew, Remove a Lien, or to Correct Lien Information by Lienholder
Form used to request a duplicate PA title OR add, renew, correct, or remove a lien.

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