A lien is a legal claim on property that is generally used to secure the repayment of a debt. Often, when you buy a car on credit, the lender places a lien on the car until you have repaid the loan in full. Unlike many other states, in Wisconsin you remain in possession of your car title even when it carries a lien. When a lien is placed, a new copy of your title will be issued, listing details of the lien on its face. To remove a lien from your title, you must obtain proof from your creditor that the lien has been released.
Find your original Wisconsin title. Photocopies and faxes are not acceptable. If necessary, you can apply for a replacement title from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Download a Title/License Plate Application from the DMV website and print it (see Resources). Complete sections A to D as they apply to you. Indicate that you want a replacement title. Submit the application to your local DMV customer service center, along with the required fee and your picture ID. A new title will be issued to you by the end of the day.
Obtain documentary proof that your lien has been released. You can prove this in several ways. First, your creditor should have sent you a lien release card, called a “Confirmation of Security Interest.” Second, an original letter from your creditor on company letterhead indicating the vehicle and its VIN number, the lien release date and an official signature is sufficient proof. Third, obtain a “PAID” stamp on your title, along with the lien release date and an official signature.
Mail both your current title and the documentary proof to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation a P.O. Box 7949, Madison, WI, 53707-7949 . There is no associated fee for removing a lien when you mail it in. A new title will be issued to you within six weeks. Alternatively, visit your local DMV customer service center to pay for immediate processing.
Certain lending institutions may have liens removed electronically. If your lien has been removed electronically, you will receive notification. In this case, you only need to submit your title, and a new copy will be issued in its place.
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation: Selling a Vehicle
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation: Removing the Lien From a Title
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation: Replacement Titles
- Internal Revenue Service. "Understanding a Federal Tax Lien." Accessed Sep. 18, 2020.
- Experian. "Tax Liens Are No Longer a Part of Credit Reports." Accessed Sept. 18, 2020.
- Experian. "What Affects Your Credit Scores?" Accessed Sep. 18, 2020.
- Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Credit Reporting Act 15 U.S.C § 1681," Page 22. Accessed Sep. 18, 2020.
William Carpenter began writing professionally in 2004, working with nongovernmental organizations and business clients while living in China. He maintains clients in China while writing for a variety of U.S. publications. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from Portland State University.