In order to establish ownership of a vehicle when you don’t have the vehicle’s title or when the title has not been properly signed over (assigned) to you, you may need to obtain a court order, such as a final divorce decree. The order should include the vehicle’s year, make and vehicle identification number (VIN) and state that you are the rightful owner. Contact your lawyer about whether a court order is needed and how to proceed in obtaining one.
After you receive the court order, you can apply for a title and registration in person at any of the MVA’s full service branch offices. You also can mail the documents to the MVA’s Mail In Title Unit in the Glen Burnie office, or go to an MVA licensed tag and title service where they will assist you in applying.
Typically, the title application documents needed (along with payment for taxes and fees) include:
- Application for Certificate of Title – If you also want to register your vehicle, be sure to include your insurance information. Your policy must conform to Maryland’s minimum liability insurance requirements.
- Court order such as a final divorce decree – The court order must identify you as the rightful owner of the vehicle and include the year, make and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle.
- Maryland Safety Inspection Certificate - This Maryland State Police form certifies that your vehicle meets Maryland safety standards and may or may not be required contingent on the terms of the court order. It is valid for up to 90 days from the date issued.
Under certain circumstances, additional information and/or forms may be required:
- Lien release – If the existing title indicates that a lien was placed against it, you must submit a lien release. For a vehicle that was titled in Maryland, the lien release can be a property completed Maryland Notice of Security Interest Filing (SIF) or a lien release letter. If the vehicle is currently titled in another state, you may submit a lien release letter. The lien release letter must be on the lien holders letterhead and include:
- The secured party's name imprinted on it (if the lien holder is a business entity).
- Contact telephone number of the secured party.
- The name of the debtor (customer).
- A description of the vehicle to include the year, make, model and vehicle identification number.
- The date and amount of the original lien
- The printed name, signature, and capacity of the secured party's representative. Note: If the lien holder is not a financial institution, the lien release letter must be notarized. If a lien release letter on the lien holder's letterhead is submitted, a photocopy must be made of the driver's license or state issued ID of the person submitting the letter.
- Lien transfer letter – As an alternative to having the lien released, you may have it transferred to your new title if the lien holder writes a letter, on its letterhead, permitting the transfer.
- Power of attorney – If someone other than you, the new owner, is signing the titling forms, this document is required.
I have a final divorce decree but it does not specifically award ownership of the vehicle to me. How can I obtain a new title?
If your divorce decree does not specifically identify the vehicle (year, make and VIN) and make you the owner, and your spouse refuses to give up the title and/or properly assign it to you, contact your lawyer for guidance. The MVA cannot title the vehicle without either a properly assigned title or a final divorce decree where the vehicle’s identity is clear and where the decree assigns the vehicle’s ownership to you as the rightful owner.
- The fee for titling a vehicle typically includes a title fee, excise tax, and a security interest (lien) filing fee if required.
- The fee for registration varies by the type of vehicle, its weight, and/or its intended use. See Fees for Registration Plates for more information.
- A vehicle that is involuntarily transferred as a result of divorce or separation proceedings is tax exempt according to Maryland law (TR13-810).
Mail In Title Unit
6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
Glen Burnie, MD 21062
For telephone questions:
MVA Customer Service Center: