How to Put a Lien on a Car Title (A Full Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Put a Lien on a Car Title

Putting a lien on a car title is a legal process that allows a creditor to claim ownership rights to a vehicle if a borrower defaults on their loan or debt. This guide will provide you with a step-by-step process on how to put a lien on a car title, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of the necessary steps and requirements.

What is a Lien on a Car Title?

A lien on a car title is a legal claim that a lender or creditor has on a vehicle. It gives them the right to take possession of the vehicle if the borrower fails to repay the debt or loan. The lienholder’s name will be listed on the car’s title until the debt is fully paid off.

Liens are commonly placed on car titles in situations where the vehicle is being used as collateral for a loan, such as an auto loan or a personal loan. The lien protects the lender’s interest in the vehicle and ensures that they have the legal right to repossess it if necessary.

How to Put a Lien on a Car Title

Putting a lien on a car title involves several steps that need to be followed carefully. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

1. Determine the Reason for the Lien

The first step in putting a lien on a car title is to determine the reason for the lien. Are you a lender looking to secure a loan, or are you a creditor trying to collect a debt? Understanding the reason for the lien will help you navigate the process more effectively.

2. Check State Laws and Regulations

Each state has its laws and regulations regarding liens on car titles. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and procedures in your state. This information can typically be found on the website of your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent agency.

3. Gather Required Documentation

Before proceeding with putting a lien on a car title, you will need to gather the necessary documentation. This may include:

  • Loan or Debt Agreement: If you are a lender, you will need a copy of the loan or debt agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the loan.
  • Vehicle Information: You will need the vehicle’s make, model, year, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
  • Borrower Information: If applicable, you will need the borrower’s name, address, and contact information.
  • Lienholder Information: If you are a creditor, you will need to provide your information as the lienholder.

4. Complete the Necessary Forms

Once you have gathered the required documentation, you will need to complete the necessary forms to put a lien on the car title. These forms can usually be obtained from your state’s DMV or equivalent agency. The forms may vary depending on the reason for the lien and the state in which you reside.

5. Submit the Forms and Pay Any Fees

After completing the forms, you will need to submit them to the appropriate authority, usually the DMV or a designated lienholder department. Along with the forms, you may be required to pay a filing fee or any other applicable fees. Make sure to check the fee schedule in your state to ensure you include the correct amount.

6. Await Confirmation

Once you have submitted the forms and paid the necessary fees, you will need to wait for confirmation that the lien has been successfully placed on the car title. This confirmation may come in the form of a new title or a lienholder document.

7. Maintain Proper Documentation

It is crucial to keep copies of all documentation related to the lien on the car title. This includes the loan or debt agreement, completed forms, proof of payment, and any correspondence with the DMV or lienholder department. These documents will serve as evidence of the lien and can be used if any issues arise in the future.

Why Put a Lien on a Car Title?

There are several reasons why someone may choose to put a lien on a car title:

  • Securing a Loan: Lenders often put a lien on a car title to secure a loan. This gives them the legal right to repossess the vehicle if the borrower defaults on the loan.
  • Collecting a Debt: Creditors may put a lien on a car title as a means of collecting a debt. This allows them to claim ownership of the vehicle and sell it to recoup the owed amount.
  • Protecting Interests: For businesses and individuals, putting a lien on a car title can help protect their interests and ensure that they have legal recourse in case of non-payment or default.


Putting a lien on a car title is a legal process that involves several steps and requirements. By following this step-by-step guide, you can ensure that you navigate the process correctly and protect your interests as a lender or creditor. Remember to familiarize yourself with your state’s specific laws and regulations to ensure compliance throughout the process.

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