Updates to the Unclaimed/Abandoned Motor Vehicle Law
Legislative Act 2015-470 amended the unclaimed/abandoned motor vehicle law.
Effective July 1, 2016, a person or entity, including towing companies, in possession of an “unclaimed” or “abandoned” motor vehicle
must report the following information to the Department of Revenue (DOR) before a motor vehicle can be sold as an “abandoned” motor vehicle.
The DOR has provided an Unclaimed/Abandoned vehicle portal for this purpose: https://unclaimed.mvtrip.alabama.gov/. The Unclaimed/Abandoned
portal must be used to complete the following process to report a vehicle as “unclaimed” and sell the vehicle as an “abandoned” vehicle.
Within five (5) calendar days from the date the vehicle was first considered “unclaimed” by the person or entity in possession of a motor vehicle, the vehicle must be reported as
“unclaimed” to the DOR through the Unclaimed/Abandoned portal. A forty-five (45) day hold will be placed on the vehicle title record in order to protect the person or entity’s
interest in the vehicle.
Unclaimed motor vehicles include the following:
NOTE: Failure to report a motor vehicle as unclaimed or failure to notify the owner and lienholder of record, if any, shall result in the forfeiture of all claims
and liens for the vehicle’s garaging, parking, and storage prior to the time the vehicle is reported as unclaimed.
- A motor vehicle left unattended on a public road or highway for more than 48 hours.
- A motor vehicle, not left on private property for repairs that has remained on private or other public property for a period of more than 48 hours without the consent of the
owner or lessee of the property.
- A motor vehicle, left on private property for repairs, that has not been reclaimed within 48 hours from the latter of either the date the repairs were completed or the agreed
upon redemption date.
- A motor vehicle left unattended on a public street, road, or highway or other property for a period of at least 48 hours.
- A motor vehicle left unattended because the driver has been arrested or is impaired by an accident or for any other reason which causes the need for the vehicle to be
immediately removed as determined necessary by law enforcement.
- Within five (5) calendar days from the date the motor vehicle was reported as “unclaimed” to the DOR, the person or entity in possession of the motor vehicle shall use the National
Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) to determine the state in which the vehicle is titled and/or registered. A list of NMVTIS service providers may be found on the
following web site: http://www.vehiclehistory.gov/nmvtis_vehiclehistory.html
- Within five (5) calendar days of receiving the NMVTIS record from the state of record, the person or entity in possession of the motor vehicle must send a Notice of Possession to the
owner and lienholder or record via certified mail. The owner and lienholder of record must be reported to DOR through the Unclaimed/Abandoned portal.
- Notice of Public Auction must be provided to DOR through the Unclaimed/Abandoned portal. If the auction is to be held in the county in which the vehicle is registered, the public
auction must be publicized once a week for two consecutive weeks in a publication of local circulation.
- A list of all unclaimed/abandoned motor vehicles will be available to the public through the Unclaimed/Abandoned portal.
- Within five (5) calendar days of the receipt of the Notice of Public Auction, the DOR shall send a Notice of Termination to the current owner and lienholder of record. The owner
and lienholder may contest the vehicle sale by filing a notice of appeal with the circuit court in the county where the sale is scheduled to occur.
- After thirty-five (35) calendar days from the Notice of Public Auction, the vehicle may be sold as abandoned vehicle. The abandoned vehicle bill of sale will be generated from the
Unclaimed/Abandoned portal and will be used to apply for the Alabama certificate of title.
- If the vehicle is returned to the owner or lienholder, the person or entity who reported the vehicle as “unclaimed” must report the return of the vehicle through Unclaimed/Abandoned
portal within five (5) calendar days of the return of the vehicle.
NOTE: ACT 2015-470 only applies to the sale of an abandoned vehicle for which notice is published on or after July 1, 2016. If the notice of the sale was posted prior to July 1, 2016,
the vehicle may be sold under the abandoned motor vehicle law provisions in effect prior to ACT 2015-470. In this situation, the vehicle must be titled prior to the end of the calendar
year 2016, or the purchaser would be required to post a title surety bond in order to title the vehicle.
For more information regarding the unclaimed/abandoned vehicle requirements, please contact the Alabama Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division at: (334) 242-9000