How to Find Who Holds a Lien on a Title

Liens protect creditors by legally allowing repossessions and preventing unauthorized sales of collateral. In the case of auto vehicles, liens are typically placed by lending agencies that financed the purchase or refinancing of the vehicle. Although these liens act as insurance for the loan, they can create burdens for car owners who must work with the lien holder to arrange car sales and insurance compensation, in case of vehicle damage. Fortunately, finding the lien holder on a vehicle title is easy since records are kept at the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where the car is registered.

Things You'll Need

  • Vehicle title


    • 1

      Find the physical paper title if you have it in your possession (the car must be registered in Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin or Wyoming for this to be possible).

    • 2

      Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the state where the vehicle is registered and ask for a copy of the title (if in one of the states listed in Step 1). This may require visiting the DMV in person, filling out forms, and/or paying a fee. Find the section of the title called "lien holder."

    • 3

      Ask the DMV who the lien holder is they cannot issue you a duplicate title because of the lien. Only the states listed in Step 1 allow owners to hold the vehicle title if there is a lien holder listed.

    • 4

      Contact the listed lien holder for any further inquiries about the lien.

Tips & Warnings

  • For lien information on homes or property, visit the county recorder, clerk or assessor's office online or in person. Bring the property owner's name or address to assist in the search.
  • Do not buy or sell a vehicle with a lien on the title without first consulting the lien holder.
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  • Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

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