Removing a Lien in Virginia
When you finance your car, there is usually a lien placed on your vehicle's title. The car won't legally be considered yours until the lien is released, which you can do at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after satisfying your auto loan.
What Is a Vehicle Title Lien?
A lien is a type of collateral. It protects a lender, service provider, or property owner against the chance that they will encounter monetary losses if a bill or loan goes unpaid.
The lien on your Virginia car title will allow your lienholder to repossess the vehicle if you are not able to continue making payments or default on your car loan.
Who Is a Virginia Lienholder?
The company or person who fronts the money or services in a transaction is usually the lienholder. Oftentimes, this position will be filled by a bank, credit union, or other financial institution.
Your lienholder is the individual or entity that wrote your car loan. They will be in possession of your VA title and considered your car's legal owner by the Virginia DMV.
Removing a Car Title Lien in VA
Once you've paid off your auto loan, you can begin the process of removing the lien from your Virginia car title. This will vary slightly, depending on whether you have:
- An electronic title—Your lender will release your lien electronically.
- The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will print and send you a clean title.
- You do not need to take any action.
- A paper title—Your lienholder must release the lien and send you your title within 10 days of receiving your final loan payment.
- Bring the document to your local VA DMV office.
- Complete an Application for Supplemental and Transfer Liens or Replacement and Substitute Title (Form VSA 66).
- Pay the $15 substitute title fee.
Missing, Merged, or Unavailable Lienholders
It is sometimes possible that you cannot reach your lienholder because the lender has:
- Gone out of business.
- Changed its name or address.
In these cases, you can submit a letter stating that the lienholder is no longer in business. This letter must be from EITHER:
- The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC).
- The Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board MVDB, IF the lender is a dealership.
You must also include:
- Proof the loan is paid in full.
- E.g., Receipts or cancelled checks.
- A notarized statement saying you have satisfied the loan.
- A returned letter through certified mail addressed to the lienholder.
- The letter must request a lien release for your specific vehicle.
- VSA 66