A sheriff’s sale occurs when a vehicle’s original owner has outstanding debts and a judgment against the owner has been issued by the courts. If the judgment is not satisfied, a writ of execution may be granted that allows a sheriff’s department to confiscate or seize the vehicle. The vehicle is then auctioned by the sheriff’s department. Before the new owner who purchases the vehicle can title it, all liens on the vehicle must be satisfied.
How do I title a vehicle that I purchased from a sheriff’s sale?
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:
- Proof of ownership – You must provide all of the following:
- Sheriff’s bill of sale - must be notarized; and
- Court order or writ - allows the vehicle to be sold at a sheriff’s sale; and
- Newspaper advertisement of the sheriff’s sale – provides details about the auction where the vehicle was purchased
- Application form – If the vehicle’s current title was issued in Maryland, use it as your application form by completing the section entitled Application for Title and Registration. If not, use the Application for Certificate of Title. Be sure to include your insurance information. Your policy must conform to Maryland’s minimum liability insurance requirements.
- Proof of purchase price - Notarized Sheriff's Bill of Sale
- Maryland Safety Inspection Certificate - This Maryland State Police form certifies that your vehicle meets Maryland safety standards and must be submitted before you can register the vehicle. It is valid for up to 90 days from the date issued.
Under certain circumstances, additional information and/or forms may be required:
- Lien information – If you borrowed money to buy the vehicle, the lien information must be recorded on the application. The MVA form entitled Security Interest Filing must be used if a second lien is placed against the title.
- Lien release – If the existing title record indicates that a lien was placed against the vehicle, a lien release is required from the lending institution. For a vehicle that was titled in Maryland, this could be a properly completed and signed Maryland Security Interest Filing (SIF) or a signed letter from the lien holder specifically identifying the vehicle and stating that the lien has been released. If the vehicle is currently titled in another state, you may submit a signed letter of release from the lien holder or you may have the lien holder sign the lien release on the title indicating the lien has been released.
- Power of attorney - If someone other than you, the new owner, is signing the titling forms, this document is required.
Note that if you also intend to register the vehicle, additional forms may be needed. Registration requirements vary greatly by the type and intended use of the vehicle. The requirements for most vehicles can be found in Registration - Common Vehicles. If your vehicle is unusual, access the infoMVA homepage to find the applicable registration description.
Your title will be mailed to you regardless of how you apply for it. If you also register the vehicle, your registration card, license plates and expiration stickers can be provided immediately when you apply in person to the MVA; otherwise, these items also will be mailed to you.
Note: On July 1, 2015 all businesses wishing to title a vehicle will be required to show proof of the legal existence of the business. The business will be given a number with a "Z" to identify it.
- 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.
Mail In Title Unit
6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
Glen Burnie, MD 21062
For telephone questions:
MVA Customer Service Center: