Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 46.2. Motor Vehicles
Chapter 6. Titling and Registration of Motor Vehicles
11/27/2021

Article 2. Titling Vehicles.

§ 46.2-616. Acquiring vehicle from vendor who does not have certificate of title.

Except as otherwise provided in this title, no person shall purchase, trade, exchange, or barter for a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer in the Commonwealth, knowing or having reason to believe that its seller has not secured a certificate of title, or knowing or having reason to believe that its seller does not legally have in his possession a certificate of title to the vehicle issued to its owner. Except as otherwise provided in this title, for the purposes of this article, off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles shall be deemed motor vehicles.

Code 1950, § 46-7; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-5; 1978, c. 605; 1989, c. 727; 2006, c. 896.

§ 46.2-617. Sale of vehicle without certificate of title.

Except as provided in §§ 46.2-644.03 and 58.1-3942, any person who sells, trades, exchanges, or barters a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer in the Commonwealth without first having secured a certificate of title for it or without legally having in his possession a certificate of title for the vehicle issued to its owner, except as otherwise provided in this title, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 46-7; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-88; 1968, c. 605; 1978, c. 605; 1988, c. 363; 1989, c. 727; 2009, c. 664; 2012, c. 623.

§ 46.2-618. When unlawful to have in possession certificate of title issued to another; remedy of purchaser against persons in possession of title of vehicle purchased from dealer.

A. It shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person in the Commonwealth to possess a certificate of title issued by the Commissioner to a person other than the holder thereof, unless the certificate of title has been assigned to the holder as provided in this title. This section, however, shall apply neither to secured parties who legally hold certificates of title as provided in this title nor to the spouse of the person to whom the certificate of title was issued.

B. When a purchaser of a motor vehicle is unable to obtain the title for such vehicle because the motor vehicle dealer who sold the vehicle to the purchaser is no longer engaged in business in the Commonwealth as a dealer as defined in § 46.2-1500 and the purchaser must petition a court of competent jurisdiction to direct that a person other than the dealer holding the title to release the title to the purchaser, the Court may order the title be released to the buyer if the court finds that the purchaser has a right to the title superior to that of the person holding the title under the laws of the Commonwealth. The court may also, upon finding that the person holding the title must release it, award reasonable attorney fees, expenses, and costs incurred by the purchaser in making the petition to the court.

Code 1950, § 46-81; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-80; 1966, c. 558; 1972, c. 208; 1982, c. 205; 1989, c. 727; 2012, c. 119; 2015, c. 615.

§ 46.2-619. New indicia of title; procedure as to leased vehicles.

When the Department receives a certificate of title properly assigned and acknowledged, accompanied by an application for registration, it shall register the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer described in the application and shall issue to the person entitled to it by reason of the transfer a new registration card, license plate, or plates and certificate of title in the manner and form and for the fees provided in this chapter for original registration. For leased vehicles, such application shall include (i) if the lessee is an individual, the name and residence street address of the lessee and the name of the locality in which the leased vehicle will be principally garaged or parked and (ii) if the lessee is a business, the name of the business, its street address, and the name of the locality in which the leased vehicle will be principally garaged or parked. The Department shall also make this information available to the commissioner of the revenue or other assessing officer of the locality in which the leased vehicle is to be principally garaged or parked. Nothing in this section shall permit the registration of all-terrain vehicles or off-road motorcycles titled pursuant to this title.

Code 1950, § 46-87; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-91; 1989, c. 727; 1996, c. 761; 2006, c. 896; 2012, c. 135.

§ 46.2-620. Period of validity of certificate of title.

Every certificate of title issued under this chapter shall be valid for the life of the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer so long as the owner to whom it is issued shall retain legal title or right of possession of or to the vehicle. Such certificates need not be renewed except on a transfer of title or interest of the owner.

Code 1950, § 46-83; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-86; 1989, c. 727; 2002, c. 93.

§ 46.2-621. Application for certificate of title.

The owner of a vehicle, or his duly authorized attorney-in-fact, shall apply for a certificate of title in the name of the owner on appropriate forms prescribed and furnished by the Commissioner. Officers and employees of the Department are vested with the authority to administer oaths and take acknowledgments and affidavits incidental to the administration and enforcement of this section and all other laws relating to the operation of motor vehicles, the collection and refunding of taxes levied on motor fuels and sales and use tax, for which services they shall receive no compensation.

Code 1950, § 46-49; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-51; 1972, cc. 301, 378; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-621.1. Correcting errors in titling.

If the owner of a vehicle or his duly authorized attorney-in-fact make a sufficient showing by providing an affidavit stating that the vehicle identification information provided on the application for certificate of title, the certificate of origin, manufacturer's statement of origin, or title, as the case may be, forwarded to the Commissioner by any means generally allowed, was incorrect, the Commissioner may take all actions necessary to correct the error.

2005, c. 283.

§ 46.2-622. Issuance of certificate of title in names of joint owners.

When the Department receives an application for a certificate of title for a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, to be issued in the names of two natural persons, jointly with right of survivorship, the Department shall issue to its owners a certificate of title accordingly. Any certificate issued in the name of two persons may contain an expression such as "or the survivor of them," which shall be deemed sufficient to create joint ownership during the lives of the two owners, and individual ownership in the survivor. A certificate issued in the names of two persons, with their names separated only by "or," shall create joint ownership during the lives of the owners, and individual ownership in the survivor of them.

Nothing herein shall (i) prohibit the issuance of a certificate of title in the names of two or more persons as owners in common which shall be sufficient evidence of ownership of undivided interests in the vehicle; (ii) grant immunity from enforcement of any liability of any person owning the vehicle, as one of two joint owners, to the extent of his interest in the vehicle, during the lives of its owners; (iii) permit the issuance of a certificate of title in the names of two persons as tenants by the entireties; or (iv) be used by one of the joint owners as a defense to the secured party's enforcement of a security interest in the vehicle that was granted by one or both of the joint owners of the vehicle on the same date or prior to the issuance of the certificate of title.

1968, c. 188, § 46.1-68.1; 1983, c. 586; 1989, c. 727; 2002, c. 432.

§ 46.2-623. Statements in application.

A. Every application for a certificate of title shall contain (i) a statement of the applicant's title and of all liens or encumbrances on the vehicle and the names and addresses of all persons having any interest in the vehicle and the nature of every interest in the vehicle; (ii) the Social Security number, if any, of the owner and, if the application is in the name of an employer for a business vehicle, the employer's identification number assigned by the United States Internal Revenue Service; and (iii) a brief description of the vehicle to be titled or registered, including the name of the maker, the vehicle identification or serial number and, when titling or registering a new vehicle, the date of sale by the manufacturer or dealer to the person first operating the vehicle.

B. The lessor of a qualifying vehicle, as defined in § 58.1-3523, shall send a report to the Department for each such qualifying vehicle containing (i) the name and address of the lessee as it appears in the lease contract; (ii) the social security number of the lessee; and (iii) the registration number of the vehicle as described under Article 1 (§ 46.2-600 et seq.) of Chapter 6.

C. Such lessor shall send a monthly report to the Department, by the fifteenth day of the month or such later day as may be prescribed in the guidelines promulgated under § 58.1-3532, listing any changes, additions or deletions to the information provided under subsection B as of the last day of the preceding month.

D. The application for title or registration shall contain such additional information as may be required by the Department.

E. The Department may require that an applicant present proof reasonably acceptable to the Department of the accuracy of information provided on the application, including proof of identity, and may refuse to issue a certificate of title until such proof has been provided.

Code 1950, § 46-50; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-52; 1972, c. 230; 1989, c. 727; 1998, Sp. Sess. I, c. 2; 2005, c. 305; 2006, c. 896; 2008, c. 171; 2012, c. 650.

§ 46.2-624. Information required on vehicles damaged by water.

A. When a vehicle has been damaged by water to such an extent that the insurance company insuring it has paid a claim of $3,500 or more because of this water damage, the insurance company shall report the payment of such claim to the Department.

B. Upon receipt of information from an insurance company pursuant to subsection A, the Commissioner shall issue a new certificate of title and place an appropriate indicator upon such certificate in order to convey that information to the new owner of the motor vehicle.

1966, c. 550, § 46.1-64.1; 1989, c. 727; 2011, cc. 652, 678; 2019, c. 72.

§ 46.2-625. Specially constructed, reconstructed, replica, converted electric, or foreign vehicles.

If a vehicle for which the registration or a certificate of title is applied is (i) a specially constructed, reconstructed, replica, converted electric, or foreign vehicle or (ii) off-road motorcycle converted to on-road use, the fact shall be stated in the application and, in the case of any foreign vehicle registered outside the Commonwealth, the owner shall present to the Department the certificate of title and registration card or other evidence of registration as he may have. The Commissioner may require such other evidence of ownership as he may deem advisable and promulgate regulations establishing what additional evidence of ownership, if any, shall be required for titling and registration of (i) specially constructed, reconstructed, replica, converted electric, or foreign vehicles or (ii) off-road motorcycles converted to on-road use. All titles and registrations for specially constructed, reconstructed, replica, and converted electric vehicles and off-road motorcycles converted to on-road use shall be branded with the words "specially constructed," "reconstructed," "replica," "converted electric," or "off-road motorcycle converted to on-road use," as appropriate. Titles for vehicles that are both converted electric vehicles and reconstructed vehicles shall be branded with the words "reconstructed" and "converted electric."

Code 1950, § 46-51; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-53; 1970, c. 632; 1989, c. 727; 2007, cc. 325, 393; 2012, c. 177; 2015, c. 259.

§ 46.2-626. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1996, cc. 591 and 917.

§ 46.2-626.1. Motorcycle purchased by manufacturer for parts; documentation required for sale of parts.

For the purposes of this section, "certificate of origin," "line-make," "manufacturer," and "new motorcycle" have the meanings ascribed to them in § 46.2-1500.

A licensed motorcycle manufacturer shall not be required to obtain a certificate of title for a new motorcycle of a different line-make purchased by the manufacturer for the purpose of obtaining parts used in the production of another new motorcycle or an autocycle, provided such manufacturer obtains a salvage dealer license in accordance with § 46.2-1601. The manufacturer shall not be required to obtain a nonrepairable certificate for the purchased motorcycle, as required by § 46.2-1603.1, but shall stamp the words "Va. Code § 46.2-626.1: DISASSEMBLED FOR PARTS" in a minimum font size of 14 point across the face of the original manufacturer's certificate of origin. The certificate of origin shall be forwarded to the Department, which shall make a record of the disassembly of the motorcycle. The manufacturer shall retain a photocopy of the stamped certificate of origin for its records.

Any parts remaining from the purchased motorcycle and sold as parts by the manufacturer shall be accompanied by documentation of how such parts were obtained. Documentation accompanying the frame of the purchased motorcycle shall include a photocopy of the stamped manufacturer's certificate of origin and certification from the manufacturer that the original certificate of origin has been forwarded to the Department.

2013, cc. 244, 367; 2014, cc. 53, 256; 2015, c. 615.

§ 46.2-627. Fee for certificate of title; use in special fund.

The fee to be paid to the Department for the issuance of each original certificate of title shall be ten dollars. The fee to record a supplemental lien and issue a new title shall be six dollars. All fees collected under the provisions of this section shall be paid into the state treasury and set aside as a special fund to be used to meet the expenses of the Department.

Code 1950, § 46-78; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-78; 1962, c. 368; 1964, c. 218; 1974, c. 454; 1982, c. 671; 1986, c. 553; 1987, c. 696; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-628. How certificate of title transferred.

The owner of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer registered under this chapter, when transferring or assigning his title or interest thereto, shall fully and correctly endorse the assignment and warranty of title on the certificate of title of the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer to its purchaser, with a statement of all security interests on it, and shall deliver the certificate to the purchaser or transferee at the time of delivering the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer. Any owner who willfully fails fully and correctly to endorse the assignment and warranty of title shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 46-84; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-87; 1966, c. 558; 1972, c. 378; 1988, c. 363; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-629. Odometer reading to be reported on certificate of title, application, or power of attorney.

A. Every owner or transferor of any motor vehicle, including a dealer, shall, at the time of transfer of ownership of any motor vehicle by him, record on the certificate of title, if one is currently issued on the vehicle in the Commonwealth, and on any application for certificate of title the reading on the odometer or similar device plus any known additional distance traveled not shown by the odometer or similar device of the motor vehicle at the time of transfer. If, however, a transferor gives his power of attorney to a dealer or other person for the purpose of assigning the transferor's interest in a motor vehicle, the transferor shall conspicuously record on the power of attorney the reading on the odometer or similar device at the time of the assignment. The owner or transferor of a motor vehicle may electronically provide, in a form and format prescribed by the Commissioner, the reading on the odometer or similar device at the time of transfer if a paper certificate of title was not issued by the Department in accordance with § 46.2-603.1 and electronic provision of odometer readings is permitted under the Federal Odometer Act (49 U.S.C. § 32701 et seq.) or any federal regulations promulgated thereunder.

B. The Department shall not issue to any transferee any new certificate of title to a motor vehicle unless subsection A has been complied with.

C. It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to record an incorrect odometer or similar device reading plus any known additional distance not shown by the odometer or similar device on any certificate of title or application for a title, or on any power of attorney as described in subsection A.

D. Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, an owner or transferor, including a dealer, of any of the following types of motor vehicles need not disclose the vehicle's odometer reading:

1. Vehicles having gross vehicle weight ratings of more than 16,000 pounds;

2. Vehicles manufactured in or before the 2010 model year that are transferred at least 10 years after January 1 of the calendar year corresponding to its designated model year and were previously exempt from recording an odometer reading on the certificate of title in another state, provided that the Department shall brand the titles of all such vehicles to indicate this exemption; and

3. Vehicles manufactured in or after the 2011 model year that are transferred at least 20 years after January 1 of the calendar year corresponding to its designated model year and were previously exempt from recording an odometer reading on the certificate of title in another state, provided that the Department shall brand the titles of all such vehicles to indicate this exemption.

E. Violation of this section shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor.

F. The provisions of subsections A and B shall not apply to transfers under § 46.2-633.

G. This section shall not apply to transfers or application for certificates of title of all-terrain vehicles, mopeds, or off-road motorcycles as defined in § 46.2-100.

1972, c. 851, § 46.1-89.1; 1978, c. 294; 1986, c. 490; 1989, c. 727; 2004, c. 724; 2006, c. 896; 2007, c. 225; 2012, c. 650; 2013, c. 783; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 431.

§ 46.2-630. Transfer and application for certificate of title forwarded to Department.

The transferee shall write his name and address in ink on the certificate of title and, except as provided in §§ 46.2-619 and 46.2-631, shall within thirty days forward the certificate to the Department with an application for the registration of the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer and for a certificate of title.

Code 1950, § 46-85; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-89; 1988, c. 363; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-631. When transferred certificate of title need not be forwarded.

When the transferee of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer is a dealer who holds it for resale and operates it only for sales purposes under a dealer's license plate, the transferee shall not be required to register it nor forward the certificate of title to the Department, as provided in § 46.2-630, but the transferee, on transferring his title or interest to another person, shall notify the Department of the transfer and shall endorse and acknowledge an assignment and warranty of title on the certificate and deliver it to the person to whom the transfer is made.

Code 1950, § 46-86; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-90; 1988, c. 363; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-632. Transfer when certificate of title lost.

A. Whenever the applicant for the registration of a motor vehicle, manufactured home, trailer, or semitrailer or a new certificate of title is unable to present a certificate of title because the certificate has been lost or unlawfully detained by one in possession of it or whenever the certificate of title is otherwise not available, the Department may receive the application and investigate the circumstances of the case and may require the filing of affidavits or other information. When the Department is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the title, it may register the motor vehicle, manufactured home, trailer, or semitrailer and issue a new registration card, license plate, or plates and certificate of title to the person entitled to it.

B. Whenever the insurance company or its agent makes application for a certificate of title to a vehicle that is not a salvage vehicle as defined in § 46.2-1600 and is unable to present a certificate of title, the Department may receive the application along with an affidavit indicating that the vehicle was acquired as the result of the claims process and describing the efforts made by the insurance company or its agent to obtain the certificate of title from the previous owner. When the Department is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the title, it may issue a certificate of title to the person entitled to it. The Commissioner may charge a fee of $25 for the expense of processing an application under this subsection that is accompanied by an affidavit. Such fee shall be in addition to any other fees and taxes required. All fees collected under the provisions of this subsection shall be paid into the state treasury and set aside as a special fund to be used to meet the expenses of the Department.

Code 1950, § 46-88; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-92; 1989, c. 727; 2009, c. 171; 2014, c. 624.

§ 46.2-633. Transfer of title by operation of law.

A. Except as otherwise provided in § 46.2-615 in the event of the transfer by operation of law of the title or interest of an owner in and to a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer registered under the provisions of this chapter to anyone as legatee or distributee or as surviving joint owner or by an order in bankruptcy or insolvency, execution sale, sales as provided for in § 46.2-644.03, repossession on default in the performing of the terms of a lease or executory sales contract or of any written agreement ratified or incorporated in a decree or order of a court of record, or otherwise than by the voluntary act of the person whose title or interest is so transferred, the transferee or his legal representative shall apply to the Department for a certificate of title, giving the name and address of the person entitled to it, and accompany his application with the registration card and certificate of title previously issued for the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, if available, together with whatever instruments or documents of authority, or certified copies of them, are required by law to evidence or effect a transfer of title or interest in or to chattels in the case. The Department shall cancel the registration of the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer and issue a new certificate of title to the person entitled to it.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, if a title is presented from a state other than the Commonwealth, the Department shall, upon presentation of the title and a form prescribed by the Commissioner attesting to the lawful repossession of the vehicle and the intent to offer the vehicle for sale in the Commonwealth, issue a new certificate of title to the person entitled to it and request the state in which the vehicle is titled to cancel the title. Nothing in this subsection, however, shall be construed to require the presentation of a title from a state other than the Commonwealth if the vehicle is not required to be titled by the laws of that other state.

Code 1950, § 46-89; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-93; 1964, c. 142; 1968, cc. 187, 605; 1970, c. 287; 1989, c. 727; 2005, cc. 766, 849; 2008, Sp. Sess. II, c. 7; 2009, c. 664.

§ 46.2-633.1. Sale in Virginia of vehicle repossessed in another state.

Any motor vehicle dealer who purchases a vehicle titled in another state and that was repossessed may sell that vehicle in Virginia without obtaining a Virginia title for the vehicle from Virginia or the state in which the vehicle is titled, provided the motor vehicle dealer has an affidavit of repossession or similar document showing the lawful repossession, which affidavit or document would be sufficient to allow the sale of the repossessed vehicle in the state where it is titled without titling the vehicle in the name of the seller.

2009, cc. 185, 691.

§ 46.2-633.2. Transfer of title on death.

A. A motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer may include in the certificate of title a designation of a beneficiary to whom the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer shall be transferred after the death of the owner.

B. A motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer owned by one person may be titled with a designated beneficiary by applying to the Department for a certificate of title on which is stated the name of the sole owner followed by "transfer on death" or "TOD" and the name of the beneficiary.

C. A motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer owned by more than one person may be titled with a designated beneficiary by applying to the Department for a certificate of title on which is stated the names of the owners followed by "transfer on death" or "TOD" and the name of the beneficiary. Such application shall be signed by all owners of the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer. Such transfer to the designated beneficiary shall occur upon the death of the last surviving owner. Nothing herein shall limit the rights of any surviving owner as provided in this section.

D. A certificate of title with a designated beneficiary shall not be issued if (i) any owner is not a natural person or (ii) the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer is encumbered by a lien or security interest.

E. During the lifetime of the owner:

1. The beneficiary shall have no interest in the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer and the signature or consent of the beneficiary shall not be required for any transaction; and

2. The certificate of title with the designated beneficiary shall not be issued by the Department or shall be canceled if:

a. The owner files an application for a certificate of title under subsection B or C to remove or change the beneficiary;

b. The owner sells the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer and delivers the certificate of title to another person; or

c. An application for the recording of a lien or security interest has been filed with the Department for the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer prior to the death of the owner or filed within the time limits in § 46.2-639.

F. Except as provided in this section, the designated beneficiary shall not be changed or revoked by will or any other instrument, by a change in circumstances, or in any other manner.

G. A certificate of title with a designated beneficiary shall not be required to be supported by consideration and need not be delivered to the beneficiary to be effective.

H. Upon the death of the owner and application by the beneficiary, the Department shall issue a new certificate of title in accordance with § 46.2-600 for the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer to the beneficiary. The beneficiary must apply for a certificate of title upon submitting proof of the death of the owner and such other documents and information as the Department may reasonably require. If the beneficiary does not survive the owner or does not apply for a certificate of title within 120 days of the death of the owner, the beneficiary or his estate shall have no right to obtain title to the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer under this section. Upon transfer of title to the beneficiary, the Department shall cancel the registration of the deceased owner.

I. Any transfer pursuant to this section shall be subject to any lien or security interest authorized under § 46.2-644, 46.2-644.01, or 46.2-644.02.

J. Any transfer pursuant to this section is not testamentary and shall not be subject to the provisions of Title 64.2.

2013, c. 318; 2020, c. 974.

§ 46.2-634. Transfer of title when no qualification on estate.

If the holder of a certificate of title is dead and there has been no qualification on his estate, a transfer may be made by a legatee or distributee if there is presented to the Department a statement made by a legatee or distributee to the effect that there has not been and there is not expected to be a qualification on the estate and that the decedent's debts have been paid or that the proceeds from the sale of the motor vehicle will be applied against his debts. The statement shall contain the name, residence at the time of death, date of death, and the names of any other persons having an interest in the motor vehicle which is sought to be transferred and, if these persons are of legal age, they shall signify in writing their consent to the transfer of the title.

Code 1950, § 46-90; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-94; 1964, c. 574; 1972, c. 211; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-635. Surrender of certificates for vehicles to be demolished; securing new title certificates.

Every person disposing of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer which is to be demolished shall make an assignment of title to the transferee as provided in § 46.2-628. The assigned certificate of title, when available, however, shall be delivered to the Department, accompanied by a form provided by the Commissioner, stating that the vehicle is to be demolished. On receipt of this form and the assigned title, the Commissioner shall forward to the transferee a receipt for them.

If the person, in lieu of demolishing the vehicle, sells, transfers, or operates the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, he shall first secure a certificate of title from the Department. Before issuing the new certificate of title, the Department shall inspect, or have inspected, the reconstructed vehicle.

If a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer obtained for use or resale, is subsequently demolished, the owner shall immediately surrender its certificate of title to the Department.

1968, c. 156, § 46.1-98.1; 1978, c. 605; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-636. Certificate to show security interests.

When the Department receives an application for a certificate of title to a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer showing security interests on the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, the certificate of title issued by the Department to the owner of the vehicle shall show all security interests disclosed by the application. All security interests shown on the certificate of title shall be shown in the order of their priority according to the information contained in the application.

Code 1950, § 46-69; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-69; 1966, c. 558; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-636.1. Security interests in farm tractors and special construction and forestry equipment.

A financing statement, as defined in § 8.9A-102, must be filed to perfect all security interests in farm tractors and special construction and forestry equipment, as defined in § 46.2-100. No other provisions of this chapter pertaining to security interests shall apply to these motor vehicles.

2010, c. 135.

§ 46.2-637. Security interests subsequently created.

Security interests, other than those in inventory held for sale, in motor vehicles, trailers, or semitrailers created by the voluntary act of the owner after the original issue of a certificate of title to the owner must be shown on the certificate of title. In such cases, the owner shall file an application with the Department on a form furnished for that purpose, setting forth the security interests and whatever additional information the Department may deem necessary. If satisfied that it is proper for the security interest to be recorded, when the certificate of title covering the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, is surrendered, the Department shall issue a new certificate of title, showing security interests in the order of their priority according to the date of the filing of the application. For the purpose of recording a subsequent security interest, the Commissioner may require any secured party to deliver to him the certificate of title. The new certificate shall be sent or delivered to the secured party from whom the prior certificate was obtained. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a security interest in a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer which is inventory held for sale shall be perfected only as provided in §§ 8.9A-301 through 8.9A-527.

Code 1950, § 46-70; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-70; 1966, c. 558; 1989, c. 727; 2006, c. 896.

§ 46.2-638. Certificate as notice of security interest.

A certificate of title, when issued by the Department showing a security interest, shall be adequate notice to the Commonwealth, creditors, and purchasers that a security interest in the motor vehicle exists and the recording or filing of such creation or reservation of a security interest in the county or city wherein the purchaser or debtor resides or elsewhere is not necessary and shall not be required. Motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers, other than those which are inventory held for sale, registered or for which a certificate of title shall have been issued under this title shall not be subjected to, but shall be exempt from the provisions of §§ 8.9A-301 through 8.9A-527 and § 55.1-407, nor shall recordation or filing of such security interest, except a security interest in inventory held for sale, in any other place for any other purpose, be required or have any effect.

Code 1950, § 46-71; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-71; 1966, c. 558; 1989, c. 727; 2006, c. 896; 2010, c. 135.

§ 46.2-639. Security interest may be filed within thirty days after purchase.

If application for the registration or recordation of a security interest to be placed on a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer is filed with the Department, it shall be deemed perfected as of the date of filing, and, if the date of filing is within thirty days from the date of an applicant's purchase of the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, it shall be as valid as to all persons, including the Commonwealth, as if that registration had been accomplished on the day the security interest was acquired.

Code 1950, § 46-72; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-72; 1966, c. 558; 1972, cc. 300, 408; 1989, c. 727; 2000, c. 71.

§ 46.2-640. Priority of security interests shown on certificates of title.

The security interests, except security interests in motor vehicles, trailers and semitrailers which are inventory held for sale and are perfected under §§ 8.9A-401 through 8.9A-527, shown upon such certificates of title issued by the Department pursuant to applications for same shall have priority over any other liens or security interests against such motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, however created and recorded. The foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to liens for taxes as provided in § 58.1-3942, liens of keepers of garages to the extent given by § 46.2-644.01 and liens of mechanics for repairs to the extent given by § 46.2-644.02 if the requirements therefor exist, provided the garage keeper or mechanic furnishes the holder of any recorded lien who may request it with an itemized sworn statement of the storage charges, work done, and materials supplied for which the lien is claimed.

Code 1950, § 46-73; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-73; 1966, c. 558; 1977, c. 382; 1983, c. 397; 1984, c. 396; 1989, c. 727; 1999, c. 299; 2009, c. 664.

§ 46.2-640.1. Vehicle leases that are not sales or security interests.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of motor vehicles, trailers or semi-trailers, a transaction does not create a sale or security interest merely because it provides that the rental price is permitted or required to be adjusted under the agreement either upward or downward by reference to the amount realized upon sale or other disposition of the motor vehicle or trailer.

1991, c. 536.

§ 46.2-641. Who to hold certificate of title subject to security interest.

The certificate of title of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer shall be delivered to the person holding the security interest having first priority on the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer and retained by him until the entire amount of his security interest is fully paid by the owner. When the security interest is fully paid, the certificate of title shall be delivered to the secured party next in order of priority or, if none, then to the owner.

Code 1950, § 46-74; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-74; 1966, c. 558; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-642. Release of security interest shown on certificate of title.

When an owner secures the release of any security interest on a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer shown on its certificate of title, he may exhibit the documents evidencing the release, signed by the person or persons making the release, and the certificate of title to the Department. However, when it is impossible to secure the release from the secured party, the owner may exhibit to the Department whatever evidence may be available showing that the debt secured has been satisfied, together with a statement by the owner under oath that the debt has been paid. The Department, when satisfied as to the genuineness and regularity of the release, shall issue to the owner either a new certificate of title or an endorsement or rider showing the release of the security interest, which the Department shall attach to the outstanding certificate of title.

Code 1950, § 46-75; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-75; 1966, c. 558; 1972, c. 249; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-643. Surrender of certificate of title required when security interest paid.

It shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor for a secured party who holds a certificate of title as provided in this title to refuse or fail to mark satisfied and surrender it to the person legally entitled thereto within ten days after his security interest is satisfied.

Code 1950, § 46-76; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-76; 1966, c. 558; 1978, c. 605; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-644. Levy of execution.

A levy made by virtue of an execution, fieri facias, or other court order, on a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer for which a certificate of title has been issued by the Department, shall constitute a lien, subsequent to security interests previously recorded by the Department and subsequent to security interests in inventory held for sale and perfected as otherwise permitted by law, when the officer making the levy reports to the Department on forms provided by the Department, that the levy has been made and that the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer levied on has been seized by him. If the lien is thereafter satisfied or should the motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer thus levied on and seized thereafter be released by the officer, he shall immediately report that fact to the Department. Any owner who, after the levy and seizure by an officer and before the officer reports the levy and seizure to the Department, shall fraudulently assign or transfer his title to or interest in a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer or cause its certificate of title to be assigned or transferred or cause a security interest to be shown on its certificate of title shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 46-77; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-77; 1966, c. 558; 1972, c. 408; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-644.01. (Effective until January 1, 2022) Lien of keeper of garage.

A. Every keeper of a garage and every person keeping any vehicles shall have a lien upon such vehicles for the amount that may be due him for the towing, storage, recovery, and care thereof, until such amount is paid.

B. In the case of any vehicle subject to a chattel mortgage, security agreement, deed of trust, or other instrument securing money, the keeper of the garage shall have a lien thereon for his reasonable charges for storage under this section not to exceed $500 and for alteration and repair under § 46.2-644.02 not to exceed $1,000. However, in the case of a storage lien, to obtain the priority for an amount in excess of $300, the person asserting the lien shall make a reasonable attempt to notify any secured party of record at the Department of Motor Vehicles by telephonic means and shall give written notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to any secured party of record at the Department of Motor Vehicles within seven business days of taking possession of the vehicle. If the secured party does not, within seven business days of receipt of the notice, take or refuse redelivery to it or its designee, the lienor shall be entitled to priority for the full amount of storage charges, not to exceed $500. Notwithstanding a redelivery, the vehicle shall be subject to subsection D.

In the case of any vehicle not subject to a chattel mortgage, security agreement, deed of trust, or other instrument securing money, the keeper of the garage shall have a lien thereon for his reasonable charges for storage under this section and for alteration and repair under § 46.2-644.02 not to exceed the value of the vehicle as determined by the provisions of § 8.01-419.1.

C. In addition, any person furnishing services involving the towing and recovery of a vehicle shall have a lien for all normal costs incident thereto, if the person asserting the lien gives written notice within seven days of receipt of the vehicle by certified mail, return receipt requested, to all secured parties of record at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

D. In addition, any keeper shall be entitled to a lien against any proceeds remaining after the satisfaction of all prior security interests or liens and may retain possession of such property until such charges are paid.

E. Any lien created under this section shall not extend to any personal property that is not attached to or considered to be necessary for the proper operation of any motor vehicle, and it shall be the duty of any keeper of such personal property to return it to the owner if the owner claims the items prior to auction.

F. For the purposes of this section, in the case of a truck or combination of vehicles, the owner, or in the case of a rented or leased vehicle, the lessee of the truck or tractor truck, shall be liable for the costs of the towing, recovery, and storage of the cargo and of any trailer or semitrailer in the combination. Nothing in this subsection, however, shall bar the owner of the truck or tractor truck from subsequently seeking to recover from the owner of any trailer, semitrailer, or cargo all or any portion of these towing, recovery, and storage costs.

2009, c. 664; 2016, c. 397; 2019, c. 561.

§ 46.2-644.01. (Effective January 1, 2022) Lien of keeper of vehicles.

A. For purposes of this section, "keeper of vehicles" means a garage keeper; a person keeping any vehicles, including a self-storage facility; and a tow truck driver or towing and recovery operator furnishing services involving the towing and recovery of vehicles.

B. Every keeper of vehicles shall have a lien upon such vehicles for the amount that may be due him for the towing, storage, recovery, and care thereof, until such amount is paid.

Such lien shall be in addition to any lien under § 46.2-644.02. Any garage keeper to whom a vehicle has been delivered pursuant to § 46.2-1209, 46.2-1213, or 46.2-1215 shall, within 30 days from the date of delivery, have a lien upon such vehicle pursuant to this section, provided that action has not been taken pursuant to such sections for the sale of the vehicle.

C. In the case of any vehicle for which the title shows an existing lien, the keeper of vehicles shall have a lien upon the vehicle for his reasonable charges for storage under this section not to exceed $500; however, the keeper of vehicles shall also be entitled to a lien against any proceeds remaining after the satisfaction of all prior security interests or liens. In addition, any tow truck driver or towing and recovery operator shall have a lien for all normal costs incident to any towing and recovery services furnished for the vehicle.

In the case of any vehicle not subject to an existing lien on the title, the keeper of vehicles shall have a lien thereon for his reasonable charges for storage under this section, alone or in combination with a lien under § 46.2-644.02 not to exceed the value of the vehicle as determined by the provisions of § 8.01-419.1.

D. The keeper of vehicles, or the authorized agents of such, shall ascertain from the Department whether the certificate of title for the vehicle shows a lien in accordance with the provisions of § 46.2-644.03 within seven business days of taking possession of the vehicle. The owner or lienholder shall have 10 business days from the date of the notice sent by the Department pursuant to § 46.2-644.03 to reclaim the vehicle. The terms for such reclamation shall be the payment of the amount due to the keeper of the vehicles or other amount as agreed by the parties. If the vehicle remains unclaimed, the keeper of the vehicles may enforce the lien under the provisions of § 46.2-644.03 or relinquish the lien under the provisions of § 46.2-644.04.

For purposes of this subsection, the date of possession for a garage keeper to whom a vehicle has been delivered pursuant to § 46.2-1209, 46.2-1213, or 46.2-1215 shall be the date such lien attaches, and the date of possession for a self-storage facility shall be the date on which the facility owner learns that a leased space subject to default contains a motor vehicle.

E. Any lien created under this section shall not extend to any personal property that is not attached to or considered to be necessary for the proper operation of any motor vehicle, and it shall be the duty of any keeper of vehicles to permit the owner to access the vehicle in order to recover his personal property, provided the owner claims and retrieves the items at least two business days prior to the auction date. The keeper of vehicles may dispose of any unclaimed personal property.

F. For the purposes of this section, in the case of a truck or combination of vehicles, the owner, or in the case of a rented or leased vehicle, the lessee of the truck or tractor truck, shall be liable for the costs of the towing, recovery, and storage of the cargo and of any trailer or semitrailer in the combination. Nothing in this subsection, however, shall bar the owner of the truck or tractor truck from subsequently seeking to recover from the owner of any trailer, semitrailer, or cargo all or any portion of these towing, recovery, and storage costs.

2009, c. 664; 2016, c. 397; 2019, c. 561; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-644.02. (Effective until January 1, 2022) Lien of mechanic for repairs.

Every mechanic who shall alter or repair any article of personal property at the request of the owner of such property shall have a lien thereon for his just and reasonable charges therefor and may retain possession of such property until such charges are paid.

Every mechanic who shall make necessary alterations or repairs on any article of personal property which from its character requires the making of ordinary repairs thereto as a reasonable incident to its reasonable and customary use, at the request of any person legally in possession thereof under a reservation of title contract, chattel mortgage, deed of trust, or other instrument securing money, the person so in possession having authority to use such property, shall have a lien thereon for his just and reasonable charges therefor to the extent of $1,000 or, if the property is a motor vehicle and is not subject to a chattel mortgage, security agreement, deed of trust, or other instrument securing money, an amount not to exceed the value of the vehicle as determined by the provisions of § 8.01-419.1. In addition, such mechanic shall be entitled to a lien against the proceeds, if any, remaining after the satisfaction of all prior security interests or liens and may retain possession of such property until such charges are paid. In any action to enforce the lien hereby given all persons having an interest in the property sought to be subjected shall be made parties defendant.

If the owner of the property held by the mechanic shall desire to obtain possession thereof, he shall make the mechanic defendant in proceeding in the county or municipal court to recover the property.

The owner may give a bond payable to the court, in a penalty of the amount equal to the lien claimed by the mechanic and court costs, with security to be approved by the clerk, and conditioned for the performance of the final judgment of the court on the trial of the proceeding, and with a further condition to the effect that, if upon the hearing, the judgment of the court be that the lien of the mechanic on such property, or any part thereof, be enforced, judgment may thereupon be entered against the obligors on such bond for the amount due the mechanic and court costs, if assessed against the owner, without further or other proceedings against them thereon. Upon giving of the bond, the property shall be delivered to the owner.

2009, c. 664; 2016, c. 397; 2019, c. 561.

§ 46.2-644.02. (Effective January 1, 2022) Lien of mechanic for repairs.

A. Every mechanic who shall alter or repair any vehicle at the request of the owner or authorized person in possession of such vehicle shall have a lien thereon for his just and reasonable charges therefor and may retain possession of such property until such charges are paid. Such lien shall be in addition to any lien under § 46.2-644.01.

B. No lien under this section shall exceed $1,000 for any vehicle for which the title shows an existing lien. However, the mechanic shall be entitled to a lien against the proceeds, if any, remaining after the satisfaction of all prior security interests or liens.

For any vehicle not subject to an existing lien on the title, no lien under this section, alone or in combination with a lien under § 46.2-644.01, shall exceed the value of the vehicle as determined by the provisions of § 8.01-419.1.

C. The mechanic or his authorized agent shall ascertain from the Department whether the certificate of title for the vehicle shows a lien thereon in accordance with the provisions of § 46.2-644.03 within seven business days after the due date of an invoice for the amount due for the alteration or repair. The mechanic may then enforce his lien under the provisions of § 46.2-644.03 after such invoice goes unpaid for 10 days after it is due or relinquish his lien under the provisions of § 46.2-644.04.

D. If the owner of the vehicle held by the mechanic shall desire to obtain possession thereof, he shall make the mechanic defendant in proceeding in the county or municipal court to recover the vehicle.

The owner may give a bond payable to the court, in a penalty of the amount equal to the lien claimed by the mechanic and court costs, with security to be approved by the clerk, and conditioned for the performance of the final judgment of the court on the trial of the proceeding, and with a further condition to the effect that, if upon the hearing, the judgment of the court be that the lien of the mechanic on such vehicle, or any part thereof, be enforced, judgment may thereupon be entered against the obligors on such bond for the amount due the mechanic and court costs, if assessed against the owner, without further or other proceedings against them thereon. Upon giving of the bond, the vehicle shall be delivered to the owner.

2009, c. 664; 2016, c. 397; 2019, c. 561; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-644.03. (Effective until January 1, 2022) Enforcement of liens acquired under §§ 46.2-644.01 and 46.2-644.02 and of liens of bailees.

For the purposes of this section, "public place" means a premises owned by the Commonwealth or a political subdivision thereof, or an agency of either, that is open to the general public.

Any person having a lien under §§ 46.2-644.01 and 46.2-644.02 and any bailee, except where otherwise provided, having a lien as such at common law on personal property in his possession that he has no power to sell for the satisfaction of the lien, if the debt for which the lien exists is not paid within 10 days after it is due and the value of the property affected by the lien does not exceed $12,500, may sell such property or so much thereof as may be necessary, by public auction, for cash. The proceeds shall be applied to the satisfaction of the debt and expenses of sale, and the surplus, if any, shall be paid within 30 days of the sale to any lienholder, and then to the owner of the property. A seller who fails to remit the surplus as provided shall be liable to the person entitled to the surplus in an amount equal to $50 for each day beyond 30 days that the failure continues.

Before making the sale, the seller shall advertise the time, place, and terms thereof in any of the following places: (i) a public place in the county or city where the property is located; (ii) a website operated by the Commonwealth, the county or city where the property is located, or a political subdivision of either; or (iii) a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city where the property is located, either in print or on its website. In the case of property other than a motor vehicle required to be registered in Virginia having a value in excess of $600, 10 days' prior notice shall be given to any secured party who has filed a financing statement against the property, and written notice shall be given to the owner as hereinafter provided. If the property is a motor vehicle required by the motor vehicle laws of Virginia to be registered, the person having the lien shall ascertain from the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles whether the certificate of title of the motor vehicle shows a lien thereon. At that time, the Commissioner shall also determine the value of the property and shall communicate it to the bailee. If the certificate of title shows a lien, the bailee proposing the sale of the motor vehicle shall notify the lienholder of record, by certified mail, at the address on the certificate of title of the time and place of the proposed sale 10 days prior thereto. If the name of the owner cannot be ascertained, the name of "John Doe" shall be substituted in any proceedings hereunder and no written notice as to him shall be required to be mailed. Whenever a vehicle is shown by the Department of Motor Vehicles records to be owned by a person who has indicated that he is on active military duty or service, the Department shall include such information in response to requests for vehicle information pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.

If the value of the property is more than $12,500 but does not exceed $25,000, the party having the lien, after giving notice as herein provided, may apply by petition to any general district court of the county or city wherein the property is, or, if the value of the property exceeds $25,000, to the circuit court of the county or city, for the sale of the property. If, on the hearing of the case on the petition, the defense, if any made thereto, and such evidence as may be adduced by the parties respectively, the court is satisfied that the debt and lien are established and the property should be sold to pay the debt, the court shall order the sale to be made by the sheriff of the county or city. The sheriff shall make the same and apply and dispose of the proceeds in the same manner as if the sale were made under a writ of fieri facias.

In determining the value of the property as required by this section, the Commissioner shall use a recognized pricing guide and, in using such guide, shall use the trade-in value specified in such guide.

If the owner of the property is a resident of the Commonwealth, any notice required by this section may be served as provided in § 8.01-296 or, if the sale is to be made without resort to the courts, by personal delivery or by certified or registered mail delivered to the present owner of the property to be sold at his last known address at least 10 days prior to the date of sale. If the owner of the property is a nonresident or if his address is unknown, any notice required by this section may be served by posting a copy thereof in three of any of the following places in any combination: (i) one or more public places in the county or city where the property is located; (ii) one or more websites operated by the Commonwealth, the county or city where the property is located, or a political subdivision of either; or (iii) one or more newspapers of general circulation in the county or city where the property is located, either in print or on their websites.

If the property is a motor vehicle (i) for which neither the owner nor any other lienholder or secured party can be determined by the Department of Motor Vehicles through a diligent search of its records, (ii) manufactured for a model year at least six years prior to the current model year, and (iii) having a value of no more than $3,000 as determined by the provisions of § 8.01-419.1, a person having a lien on such vehicle may, after showing proof that the vehicle has been in his continuous custody for at least 30 days, apply for and receive from the Department of Motor Vehicles title or a nonrepairable certificate to such vehicle, free of all liens and claims of ownership of others, and proceed to sell or otherwise dispose of the vehicle.

Whenever a motor vehicle is sold hereunder, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall issue a certificate of title and registration or a nonrepairable certificate to the purchaser thereof upon his application containing the serial or motor number of the vehicle purchased together with an affidavit of the lienholder that he has complied with the provisions hereof, or by the sheriff conducting a sale that he has complied with said order.

Any garage keeper to whom a motor vehicle has been delivered pursuant to § 46.2-1209, 46.2-1213, or 46.2-1215 may after 30 days from the date of delivery proceed under this section, provided that action has not been taken pursuant to such sections for the sale of such motor vehicle.

Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary, any person having a lien under § 46.2-644.01 or 46.2-644.02 shall comply with the provisions of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. § 3901 et seq.) when disposing of a vehicle owned by a member of the military duty or service.

2009, c. 664; 2011, cc. 14, 702; 2014, c. 339; 2015, c. 640; 2016, c. 397; 2019, c. 560.

§ 46.2-644.03. (Effective January 1, 2022) Enforcement of liens acquired under §§ 46.2-644.01 and 46.2-644.02.

A. For the purposes of this section:

"Bailee" means anyone who has one or more liens under § 46.2-644.01 or 46.2-644.02.

"Independent appraisal" means an estimate for the value of a motor vehicle prepared by an individual or business that (i) has all required business licenses and zoning approvals and (ii) is either a licensed appraiser in another state or a business authorized by an insurance company to prepare insurance appraisals. "Independent appraisal" does not include an estimate prepared by an individual or business with a financial interest in the bailee's business.

B. Any bailee eligible to enforce a lien under § 46.2-644.01 or 46.2-644.02, if the value of the vehicle affected by the lien does not exceed $12,500, may sell such vehicle by public auction, for cash, in accordance with the provisions of this section. The proceeds shall be applied to the satisfaction of the debt and expenses of sale, and the surplus, if any, shall be paid within 30 days of the sale to any lienholder of record, and then to the owner of the vehicle, provided such lienholder or owner contacts the bailee prior to the sale to claim any surplus that may result. If such claim is made by the lienholder or owner within 30 days following the sale, the surplus shall be paid within 30 days of the claim. If no claim to the surplus is made within 30 days of the sale, or if the owner or lienholder cannot be ascertained by the Department, the bailee shall be entitled to keep the surplus.

C. Before any lien may be enforced under this section, the bailee or his authorized agent shall initiate with the Department, in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner, a search for the owner and lienholder of record for the vehicle, the names and addresses of which if found shall be provided to the bailee. Any bailee or authorized agent who initiates more than five such requests within any 12-month period shall enter into an agreement with the Department to initiate requests and receive responses electronically.

The Department shall check (i) its own records, (ii) the records of a nationally recognized crime database, and (iii) records of a nationally recognized motor vehicle title database for owner and lienholder information. If a vehicle has been reported stolen, the Department shall notify the appropriate law-enforcement agency of that fact. If a vehicle is found to have been titled in another jurisdiction, the Department shall contact that jurisdiction to ascertain the requested information and provide it to the bailee. At the time of the search, the Department shall also determine the value of the vehicle, using the trade-in value specified in a recognized pricing guide, and, for a vehicle titled in the Commonwealth, whether the records of the Department show that the owner of the vehicle has indicated that he is on active military duty or service. The Department shall include such information in the response to the request for vehicle information.

After responding to the request for vehicle information, the Department shall notify the owner and any lienholder of record of the request by first-class mail to the address provided on the vehicle record held by the Department or by the jurisdiction in which the vehicle is titled. Such notice shall include the name and contact information of the bailee and any terms for reclaiming the vehicle, as well as any additional information the Commissioner determines to be necessary.

No notice by the Department shall be required if no record for the vehicle can be found or, in the case of a vehicle titled in another jurisdiction, the other jurisdiction refuses to release the requested vehicle information to the Department. In either situation, the bailee may continue with lien enforcement under this section. However, if a vehicle record exists in another jurisdiction, the bailee shall assume all liability for proceeding with such enforcement without written notice to the owner and/or lienholder of record.

For every vehicle subject to a record search as provided for in this section, if the record for the vehicle is held by the Department, the Department shall place an administrative hold on the vehicle record until the bailee reports to the Department that the vehicle has been reclaimed or sold pursuant to this section.

D. Any bailee enforcing a lien in accordance with this section shall notify the Department of his intent to sell the vehicle in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner. A $40 fee shall be paid to the Department at the time of notice. Upon receipt of such notice and fee, the Department shall repeat the vehicle record search prescribed in subsection A for the purpose of confirming the most recent owner and lienholder information for the vehicle.

If the Department confirms owner or lienholder information, either through a search of its own records or those of another jurisdiction, the Department shall notify the owner, at the last known address of record, and any lienholder, at the last known address of record, of the intent to sell the vehicle, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and advise them to reclaim the vehicle and repay the debt owed within 15 days from the date the notice was sent. Such notice, when sent in accordance with these requirements, shall be sufficient regardless of whether or not it was ever received.

Following the notice required in this subsection, if the vehicle remains unclaimed and the debt unpaid, the owner and all persons having security interest shall have waived all right, title, and interest in the vehicle, except to the extent that subsection B requires a surplus to be paid. The bailee shall notify the Department in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner within five business days if the vehicle is reclaimed and the debt paid. Should the bailee fail to notify the Department as required herein, and the Department must remove the administrative hold placed under subsection C at the request of the vehicle owner or lienholder, and upon submission of proof that the debt was paid and the vehicle reclaimed, the Department may impose and collect an administrative fee of $40 from the bailee for each such removal.

E. At the time the bailee notifies the Department of his intent to sell the motor vehicle, the bailee shall provide the intended date of sale at public auction, including the time, place, and terms of such sale. The intended date shall be at least 21 days after the date of notification. The Department shall post notice on behalf of the bailee for at least 21 days prior to the date of sale, advertising the time, place, and terms of the sale. Such 21-day posting period shall run concurrently with the 15-day reclamation period provided for in subsection D. Notifications and postings shall be in an electronic manner prescribed by the Commissioner and shall include the vehicle identification number and a description of each vehicle to be sold. No other postings or notices advertising the sale shall be required.

Upon notice by the bailee that the vehicle will be sold, the Department shall provide a certification document in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner to the bailee. The bailee shall complete all applicable certification statements on the document and provide it to the buyer of the vehicle, who shall submit the document and an application to the Department in order to obtain a certificate of title for the vehicle. Upon receipt of a completed application and certification document, the Department shall issue a certificate of title to the buyer or a nonrepairable certificate, if requested, free of all prior liens and claims of ownership of others.

F. If the value of the vehicle is more than $12,500 but does not exceed $25,000, the bailee, after the notice is sent by the Department pursuant to subsection C, may apply by petition to any general district court of the county or city wherein the vehicle is, or, if the value of the vehicle exceeds $25,000, to the circuit court of the county or city, for the sale of the vehicle. No notice sent by the Department pursuant to this section shall substitute for service of process for any court proceeding. If the name of the owner cannot be ascertained, the name "John Doe" shall be substituted in any proceeding pursuant to this section.

If, on the hearing of the case on the petition, the defense, if any made thereto, and such evidence as may be adduced by the parties respectively, the court is satisfied that the debt and lien are established and the vehicle should be sold to pay the debt, the court shall order the sale to be made by the sheriff of the county or city. The sheriff shall make the same and apply and dispose of the proceeds in the same manner as if the sale were made under a writ of fieri facias. No additional notifications or postings by the Department related to the sale shall be required.

If a court has ordered the sale of the vehicle, the bailee shall submit to the Department a copy of the court order in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner. Upon receipt, the Department shall provide a certification document to the bailee. The bailee and sheriff conducting the sale, or his authorized representative, shall complete all applicable certification statements on the document and provide it to the buyer of the vehicle, who shall submit the document and an application to the Department in order to obtain a certificate of title for the vehicle. Upon receipt of a completed application and certification document, the Department shall issue a certificate of title to the buyer or a nonrepairable certificate, if requested, free of all prior liens and claims of ownership of others.

G. In determining the value of the property as required by this section, the Commissioner shall use a recognized pricing guide and, in using such guide, shall use the trade-in value specified in such guide.

However, the bailee may submit an independent appraisal and supporting documentation to show the accurate value of the vehicle in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner. Upon receipt, the Department shall update the vehicle record to reflect the value established by the independent appraisal and notify the bailee that enforcement under this section may proceed based on the new value.

If the Department is unable to determine a trade-in value for a vehicle, the Commissioner may establish guidelines for acceptable alternate valuation options to include independent appraisals and retail or loan values that may be available in online or printed pricing guides. The bailee may submit documentation pursuant to such guidelines in order to establish the value of the vehicle.

H. For a vehicle (i) for which neither the owner nor any other lienholder or secured party can be determined by the Department through a diligent search as required by this section, (ii) manufactured for a model year at least six years prior to the current model year, and (iii) having a value of no more than $4,500 as determined by the provisions of this section, a bailee may, after showing proof that the vehicle has been in his continuous custody for at least 30 days, apply for and receive from the Department of Motor Vehicles title or a nonrepairable certificate to such vehicle, free of all liens and claims of ownership of others, and proceed to sell or otherwise dispose of the vehicle.

I. Notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary, a bailee shall comply with the provisions of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. § 3901 et seq.) (the Act) when disposing of a vehicle owned by a member of the military on active duty or service. If the records of the Department show that the owner of the vehicle has indicated to the Department that he is on active military duty or service, such indicator shall be prima facie evidence that the vehicle is subject to the provisions of the Act. However, neither the presence nor absence of such indicator on the vehicle record shall absolve the bailee of his obligation to ascertain the owner's military service status, if any, in accordance with the Act.

J. All fees imposed and collected pursuant to this section shall be paid into the state treasury and set aside as a special, nonreverting fund to be used to meet the expenses of the Department.

K. Residents or businesses of other jurisdictions in possession of vehicles titled in the Commonwealth, or the authorized agents of such residents or businesses, seeking to enforce laws in those jurisdictions that are substantially similar to the enforcement of liens under §§ 46.2-644.01 and 46.2-644.02 may request information for such vehicles from the Department. The Department shall conduct the information search as provided for in subsection C, provide the names and addresses of the owner and lienholder, if any, for each vehicle to the requester, and notify the named owner and lienholder, if any, by first-class mail of the request. Such notification shall not replace any notification requirements imposed by the jurisdiction in which the requester and subject vehicle are located, nor shall the enforcement rules of this section apply to vehicles not located within the Commonwealth. If the Department finds that the vehicle is titled in another jurisdiction, the Department shall identify that jurisdiction to the requester with no further obligation to the requester or vehicle owner. The Department shall collect a $25 fee for such search.

2009, c. 664; 2011, cc. 14, 702; 2014, c. 339; 2015, c. 640; 2016, c. 397; 2019, c. 560; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.

§ 46.2-644.04. (Effective January 1, 2022) Relinquishment of liens acquired under §§ 46.2-644.01 and 46.2-644.02.

A. For purposes of this section, "bailee" means the same as that term is defined in § 46.2-644.03.

B. A bailee may relinquish a lien acquired under § 46.2-644.01 or 46.2-644.02, provided that (i) the Department has completed a vehicle record search pursuant to subsection C of § 46.2-644.03 and determined that no lien exists on the vehicle record, whether held by the Department or another state, and (ii) the vehicle owner has not reclaimed the vehicle as provided for in § 46.2-644.01 or 46.2-644.02. Such relinquishment shall permit the bailee to transfer possession of the vehicle to an unaffiliated tow truck driver, towing and recovery operator, or keeper of a garage, whose business is located within the same locality as the bailee.

C. Any lien relinquishment hereunder shall be reported to the Department by the bailee on a form and in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner within five business days of the transfer of possession of the vehicle. Such form shall include (i) the make, model, model year, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle; (ii) the name and address of the bailee; (iii) the name and address of the person or entity receiving the vehicle; and (iv) the date of transfer of possession.

Upon receipt of the relinquishment form, the Department shall note such relinquishment on the vehicle record and notify the owner by first-class mail at the last known address of record that the bailee has relinquished the lien and transferred possession of the vehicle. The Department shall collect a $5 administrative fee for this process from the bailee. Such fee shall be paid into the state treasury and set aside as a special, nonreverting fund to be used to meet the expenses of the Department.

D. Upon taking possession of a vehicle for which a lien has been relinquished pursuant to this section, a towing and recovery operator or keeper of a garage shall have a lien on the vehicle in accordance with § 46.2-644.01 and all enforcement provisions applicable to such lien shall remain in place. No other relinquishment may take place under this section for the same vehicle until the lien created under this subsection is enforced pursuant to this article and the vehicle titled to a new owner.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 374.