Removing a Lien in Washington

When you financed your car in Washington, a lien was put on your vehicle's title. It will remain there through the life of your auto loan, and once you've completed making payments, you can have it removed through the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL).

What Is a Car Lien?

A lien is a type of legal collateral. It protects a service provider, property owner, or lender in the case that they do not receive full payment on a loan or a bill.

The lien on your WA vehicle title will give your lienholder the legal right to repossess your vehicle if you are unable to satisfy your car loan.

Lienholders in Washington State

The person or place of business providing either money or services up front in a transaction is typically the lienholder. This role is most often filled by a bank, credit union, or other financial institution.

The business or individual who wrote your car loan will have possession of your title and be considered your car's legal owner by the WA DOL until your auto loan has been paid in full.

Removing a Lien from Your WA Title

When you've settled the debt with your lienholder, you can have the lien removed from your Washington car title. Typically, this process is very easy.

Your lienholder will send all the necessary documents to the Washington State Department of Licensing on your behalf.

If for some reason this doesn't happen, you can you can bring the following to your local WA DOL office:

Absent or Out-of-Contact Lienholders

If your lienholder is out of business, and you are unable to find or contact them, you must use one of the following options to release your lien:

  • Petition the Washington State Superior Court or District Court.
    • Show proof of your satisfied loan.
    • The court order will need to show the vehicle's:
      • Make.
      • Model.
      • Year.
      • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Bring to your local WA DOL office the following documents:
    • A copy of the purchase agreement, including the purchase price.
    • Cancelled checks or receipts that equal the original purchase price amount.
  • File a complaint at your local Washington Department of Licensing office, if your lienholder is a Washington vehicle dealer.


Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest
Notify the WA Department of Licensing that title, registration, tabs, decals, OR license plates have been lost, stolen, OR destroyed. Releases you from that vehicle's interest.
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