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How to obtain your car title after loan payoff Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our aim is to assist you make better financial decisions by providing you with financial calculators and tools that are interactive, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct your own research and compare data for free – so that you can make sound financial decisions. Bankrate has agreements with issuers including, but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn Money The deals that are displayed on this site come from companies that compensate us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including for instance, the sequence in which they be listed within the categories of listing and other categories, unless prohibited by law. This applies to our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. But this compensation does have no impact on the information we provide, or the reviews you see on this site. We do not cover the vast array of companies or financial offerings that could be open to you.


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3 min read Published June 23, 2022

Written by Holly D. Johnson Written by Author, Award-Winning Writer

Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards loyalty, insurance and other topics. In addition to her work for Bankrate and, Johnson is also a regular contributor for clients which include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.

Edited by Chelsea Wing Edited by Student loans editor

Chelsea has been with Bankrate since the beginning of 2020. She is invested in helping students navigate the daunting costs of college , and simplifying the maze that are associated with student loans.

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After you’ve paid the final payment on an , you will need to get you a title document from the lender to show that you legally own the vehicle. It is also a critical document in the event that you decide to selling your car down the road. What is An auto lien is a note showing that your vehicle is , in many cases your lender. In a lot of ways the lien on your vehicle is similar to a lien on your home. With a lien in place, the lender holds the rights to the vehicle until you have paid off the amount you borrowed, plus fees and interest. Once your loan is paid in full, that lien placed on the automobile title is lifted and the title can be released to you. This is when the legal ownership of the car transfers from the lender and you. How to get your title after paying off your car loan After you have paid on your car loan the lien holder is required to notify the state’s Department of Monitor Vehicles (DMV). They can do so electronically or by submitting specific documents that are required by law. Whatever method you choose, they’ll notify the state that you no longer have an outstanding balance in your loan and are only the owner of your car. “After you’ve completed the repayment of your auto loan and have it cleared, you’ll be able to get a ‘free and clear’ title for your vehicle, which means that you’re now completely in control of your car,” says Julie Shinn who is vice director of lender management at RateGenius. “Anytime there are ownership changes, you have to update on the record.” The process for changing the title process varies by state The process involved in getting the title of your paid-off car depends on the state’s laws. Certain states handle the whole process, while others require you to do some grunt work. According to Shinn you, your lender will send you an obligation to file a lien release in states where you must file to get your title. This is a formal document that proves that the loan is paid in full. Then, you’ll bring these documents to your state DMV to get an updated title that is solely yours. Other states have different procedures, once the DMV is informed, they will automatically mail you the title for your car , with no additional effort from you. To learn the process in your state, go to your state’s DMV website . What’s the length of time required to get a title after loan payoff Shinn says that in states where you have to file paperwork to get the title of your car under your name, you could expect to receive your new title anywhere from two to six weeks after submitting the paperwork. Since every state’s processing timelines differ so the process can be longer or shorter. Nishank Khanna, a CFO at Clarify Capital, says that states that have DMVs which mail auto titles electronically could take less time, usually around 15 to 30 days. However, processing and shipping time can drag on therefore, be sure to follow up with a phone call to the office, an email or a visit in person when you think you’ve been waiting too long. Last thoughts about liens Although it is normal to have a lien placed on the vehicle you own, it is important to remember some important details to keep in mind. A lien on your vehicle may — or at least make selling your car more difficult, says Brian DeChesare of Mergers and Inquisitions. This is due to the fact that you’ll be required to pay back the vehicle loan and obtain access to the title before you are able to sell your vehicle or transfer it to another person. It is possible that you don’t have the funds to pay off the car prior to the sale, and if you happen to owe more than your vehicle is worth the amount, you’ll need to pay for the difference. DeChesare is also of the opinion that the opposite is true as well: You cannot get the title of an automobile when buying from someone who is a lien holder until they’ve paid off the car. This can be a tricky ordeal. However, some DMVs offer a lien search function where you can find out who owns the title to the vehicle and get in touch with them directly. As a result of these challenges, many drivers just trade in cars with a lien to their dealership as they upgrade. When you at a dealership, you’ll be offered an amount to trade in your car that is hopefully more than the amount you have to pay. The dealer will transfer the title to the owner in order to be able to sell your car to someone else leaving you off the table. The final word If you’re trying to obtain your title after paying the balance of your car loan it is possible that you will need to simply to sit and just wait. However, in certain states, a trip to the DMV could be in the future. In any case, you can be proud of having completed the repayment of your auto loan. Be aware of your financial future before deciding to upgrade to a new vehicle with a new loan, especially if your car is in good working order. Learn more


Written by Author, Award-Winning Writer

Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards loyalty, insurance and other topics. In addition to writing articles for Bankrate and, Johnson does ongoing work for clients including CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.

Editor: Chelsea Wing Edited by Student loans editor

Chelsea is with Bankrate since the beginning of 2020. She’s committed to helping students navigate the high cost of college and dissecting the complexity of student loans.

Student loans editor

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