Why am I receiving an abandoned vehicle or vessel notice for a vehicle or vessel I have sold, traded in to a dealership, or donated to charity? And, what should I do?

Please note: Vehicle includes motor vehicles, ORVs, and snowmobiles. Vessel includes watercraft.

The Secretary of State will send notice of abandonment to the last owner of record as kept by the Secretary of State. The owner of record changes when a purchaser applies to transfer the ownership into his or her name. The law creates a presumption that the last owner of record as kept by the Secretary of State is responsible for abandoning it. The owner of record may be liable for all fees and penalties associated with the abandoned vehicle or vessel unless the person provides an acceptable record of sale. 

If you traded in the vehicle to a dealer, the title application for your new vehicle should show that your previous vehicle was traded in. If you donated your vehicle or vessel to a charity, the charity should provide a receipt with a description of the vehicle or vessel including the year, make, VIN, HIN, serial number, and date of donation. Either one may be considered an acceptable record of sale.

You cannot redeem a vehicle or vessel that you previously sold. If you are ticketed, fined, or involved in a civil or criminal proceeding, you should present your record of sale to the court. Otherwise, no action on your part is required.


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