Va.Code §§46.2-1200 et seq.

If a vehicle is abandoned on your property in Virginia, you have the right to title it and sell it after a certain amount of time. However, before the vehicle can be titled, the person who is in possession of the car needs to follow a specific process as dictated by the commonwealth of Virginia. You may learn more about steps involved in this process by visiting this link:

Step 1

Initiate an Abandoned Vehicle Record Request search for the car's owner. Virginia requires that individuals, businesses and government agencies in possession of an abandoned vehicle perform an Abandoned Vehicle Record Request search on it. Go the Virginia DMV office nearest to you and provide the agency with the vehicle's VIN number to initiate a records request search. You may also perform this search online by visiting

The point of the records request search is to legally document your attempt to locate the owner or lien holder of the vehicle. As of 2021, this process requires paying a $25 fee to the DMV.

Step 2

Wait for the DMV to contact the vehicle's owner and notify them that the vehicle needs to be removed from your property within 15 days. The DMV will contact owners who are located in Virginia for you. If the owner is located out of state, then you will have to send a certified letter to them. Keep all paperwork and receipts from these actions.

Step 3

Go to the Online Transactions section of the Virginia DMV's website ( and post your intent to sell the vehicle at auction per the provided DMV standards and guidelines.

You can only do this if the car owner does not respond to the request to have the vehicle removed within the 15-day time limit. You will need to register online as a member of the DMV's website and then click the appropriate links under the Online Transactions section of the website to submit your posting. Posting should include pertinent legal information about the car, such as the make, model and VIN. The auction posting will remain active on the DMV's website for 21 days. Keep all paperwork, forms and receipts provided to you by the DMV during this process. If the forms and receipts arrive in your email, remember to print them out for safekeeping. After 21 days, you may title the vehicle yourself, sell it or scrap it.

Be sure to post your Intent to Auction within 30 days from the “Must Claim By Date” displayed on your AVP receipt or your vehicle will be inactivated in the AVP process.

Step 4

Fill out the Application for Certificate of Title ( and take it to your local DMV office along with the other documents you received during the previous steps. These documents include your Vehicle Removal Certificate and the Abandoned Vehicle Record Request Receipt—you will have received it after you paid the fee for the Abandoned Vehicle Record Request search. You will also need to provide insurance paperwork showing the vehicle is insured and proof of compliance with any other local registration requirements—such as emission inspection certificates—to your local DMV office. Be prepared to pay tax, tag, and title fees. Fees will vary depending on the approximate value of the car and whether or not you already own a tag or have to purchase one. You can expect to receive the title to the car in the mail within a few weeks of submitting the necessary paperwork.

For help other than do it yourself thru DMV, contact an attorney or a private company like Wisdom & Authority Title Solutions, LLC  at (757) 494-1298 or (757) 494-1299.

Adapted from How to Get an Abandoned Title for a Car in VA by Jen Davis



John Cole Gayle, Jr.
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Consumer Law Pioneer and Co-Author of Virginia's Lemon Law
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