Removing a Lien in West Virginia

If you financed your car and are still making payments, you probably have a lien on your car title. Until you pay off the loan, you don’t technically own the vehicle; your lender owns it.

However, once you pay off the loan, you can have the lien released and apply for a clear title with the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

What Is a Car Lien in WV?

A lien is a form of collateral or security interest that protects a lender, property owner, or service provider against financial losses if they aren’t recouped for their loan or services.

When you borrow money to buy a car in West Virginia, your lender—who becomes the lienholder—places a lien on your car title. Your lienholder will release the lien and you can apply for a clear title once you pay off the loan; however, if you stop making payments, your lienholder can repossess the vehicle.

Other Types of Liens

Many car owners have car liens at some point. After all, most of us need to take out car loans to buy vehicles.

However, there are other kinds of car liens. For example, you might face a mechanic’s lien if you fail to pay for certain vehicle services. On the other hand, you might put up your car as collateral in a transaction.

Clearly, these situations are unique to each person so you must talk with the lienholder and a WV DMV agent for information on what you need to do to remove the lien.

Lienholders in West Virginia

Your lienholder is the individual or entity that issued your auto loan. Usually, lienholders are financial institutions like banks and credit unions but could also be a car dealer or individual person who issued you an auto loan.

Your lienholder keeps your WV title and is considered the vehicle’s legal owner until you pay off the loan. At that point, your lienholder will release the lien and return the title, after which you can apply for a clear title.

Remove a WV Car Title Lien

After you make your final auto loan payment, your lienholder will send you the properly completed and notarized car title and possibly a notarized lien release statement.

It is strongly recommended that you apply for a clear title because there’s no guarantee your lienholder will notify the WV DMV that your lien is released; applying for a clear title ensures the DMV removes the lien from your vehicle records.

To apply for a clear title, you need:

  • A completed Application for Certificate of Title (Form DMV-1-TR).
  • The properly completed car title and lien release letter (if appicable).
    • The car title must be notarized and show the lien is released.
    • If the title doesn’t show the lien as released, you must submit a notarized lien release letter that includes your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • A copy of your registration card.
  • The $15 title fee.
    • When applying by mail, send a check or money order made payable to the “Division of Motor Vehicles.”

You can apply in person at your local WV DMV office or by mail at:

Division of Motor Vehicles
5707 MacCorkle Ave. SE
P.O. Box 17710
Charleston, WV 25317

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