Liens (purchasing/selling a vehicle with a loan)


Any Wisconsin title with a lien (loan) listed on or after July 30, 2012, is sent to the lender or lien holder (this includes vehicles purchased with a personal loan or through a dealer or financial institution). Lien holders (also known as secured parties) may receive titles in a paper or electronic format.

Owners of vehicles receive a Confirmation of Ownership. This document cannot be used to transfer ownership of a vehicle. Once the loan has been paid off, the actual paper title will be mailed to the owner. If you need your Wisconsin title for any reason (before you pay off the lien), you will need to contact your lien holder directly.

Use the lien holder search button (below) to:

  • Verify to whom the title was delivered (owner or lender)
  • Verify lender's name/address if loan is through a business
    • If you have a personal loan, you will not see the name/address of the individual lender

Tips for using the lien holder search application:

  • Do not use the letter "O" when entering in a VIN. Use the number zero, "0."
  • The letters "Q" or "I" are not used in standard VINs.
  • If no record is displayed for the vehicle identification number (VIN) entered, check Title transfer search to see if a title was recently issued for the vehicle.

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If you purchased your vehicle with a loan, depending on the list date of the lien, you or the lender received the title.

Current liens (listed on or after July 30, 2012)

  • The lender received your title.
  • When you pay the loan off, if your lending institution electronically released their lien on your vehicle, you will automatically receive a new title in the mail (unless there is another loan on your vehicle).
  • If your lien was not released electronically, send the valid lien release (original letter on letterhead from lender, lien perfection, lien perfection, or stamped “paid” title with signature) to:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 7949
Madison, WI 53707-7949


  • There is no fee to remove a lien from a Wisconsin title.
  • Allow up to six weeks to receive a new title.
  • To confirm the lien has been removed from your vehicle record (electronically released by lender or with mailed-in lien release) use the .

Older liens (listed before July 30, 2012)

  • You received the title with the lien listed on the title
  • When you pay the loan off, your lender will either mail you a lien release document or they will notify the DMV electronically.
  • If you received a lien release document (lien perfection, original letter on letterhead from lender, or stamped “paid” title with signature) and would like a clear title (no lien listed) mail the release with your title to the DMV. There is no fee to remove a lien from a Wisconsin title. Allow up to six weeks to receive a new title.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 7949
Madison, WI 53707-7949


  • There is no fee to remove a lien from a Wisconsin title.
  • Allow up to six weeks to receive a new title.
  • To confirm the lien has been removed from your vehicle record (electronically released by lender or with mailed-in lien release) use the
    • If the lien has been removed from the official DMV record, you do not need to wait for a clear title to sell or dispose of your vehicle.
  • If you can’t locate the title, will need to pay for a replacement title. You may do this at the same time you have the lien cleared.

For lenders

  • Any title with a lien listed on or after July 30, 2012, will be sent to the lien holder rather than the owner.
  • As a lien holder, you may choose to receive either paper or electronic titles.
  • DMV requires that a financial institution has a secured party number to list liens on titles in Wisconsin. A financial institution should only have one secured party number, regardless of how they choose to receive titles. Secured party numbers are assigned by the Vehicle Research Unit (608) 264-0890.
  • When you release your lien on a title that was sent to you, DMV automatically prints and sends a new title to the owner of the vehicle. There is no need to return the title to DMV; destroy it once your lien has been released.

Electronic title option

Lenders are required by Wisconsin law to process most title lien applications electronically. The eMV PARTNER and authorized vendor systems are available for lenders to process title lien transactions in Wisconsin. These systems are separate from the delivery of electronic titles.

The Electronic Lien Title (ELT) program allows lenders to electronically exchange essential vehicle, lien and title information with the DMV via an authorized third-party Electronic Service Provider (ESP). This eliminates the need for printing, mailing and storing paper titles. This process is faster and more efficient for all parties involved.

You may choose to participate in the ELT program using an ESP who works with DMV to provide a computer-based system to electronically record liens.

Electronic service providers

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Program Standards are viewable on the eMV PARTNER page.

Paper title option

  • DMV will print and mail a title to the first lien holder on the title record.
  • DMV will send subsequent lien holders on the title record a form T084 Confirmation of Security (Lien) Perfection
  • The first lien holder is required to hold the title until the lien is paid in full

Lender alternate delivery address options

Lenders who hold the title have the option of adding a one-time name and address to redirect delivery of the new title to a different name/address than that of the vehicle owner listed on the title. You will be able to add this optional name and address when releasing liens via the eMV PARTNER system and any authorized third party vendor or Electronic Service Provider system.

This option will be available whether the original title is paper or electronic. Lenders do not have to be set up to receive electronic titles to do this. Lenders currently receiving titles electronically may release their liens directly through an electronic service provider. Liens are released once daily and may also take advantage of the alternate delivery options.

Adding a one-time name and address during lien release processing will be useful to direct delivery of titles to:

  • Motor vehicle dealerships paying off a lien on a vehicle that has been traded in
  • Financial institutions processing a refinance on the vehicle

Financial institutions should only redirect title delivery to an alternate address if they are releasing the last lien on a vehicle’s title. DMV will return an information message stating that the alternate address provided was not used in the case where another lien holder still holds a right to the title.

Alternate address information provided is saved until the title is printed, including situations when a customer has prior incidents that will prevent immediate title issuance.

DMV's Dealer and Agent Section works with lending institutions to help them understand the process and requirements for adding a lien. A comprehensive fact sheet is available to help lenders find the answers they need. Topics include: general information, how you will receive your title, policies, "mail-to" information, printing, electronic title, and processing.

Refer to Lien Holder Processing FAQs

Wisconsin law requires dealers and secured parties to electronically process many types of title and/or title/registration applications. Electronic processing offers numerous benefits, including automatic fee calculations, real time record updates, no need for writing checks, and immediate listing of liens. You can choose to use the department-maintained eMV PARTNER program, or one of several third-party processing options.

For Wisconsin dealers when the title is held by a lien holder:

  • You may take vehicles on trade without the customer having a physical title in hand with the use of a secured Power of Attorney. Contact your forms provider for information on form MV2690 availability (see Trans Rule 154).
  • You are allowed to put a vehicle for sale on the lot and/or sell it to a retail customer while the title is held by the lien holder if all the following are true:
    • You have verified that the lien holder has the title with a Wisconsin Inquiry print
      • All Wisconsin dealer processing system inquiries, including vendors and eMV PARTNER, will indicate whether the Wisconsin title is held by the lien holder
    • You possess proper odometer and title transfer documentation, including the MV2690
    • All liens on the vehicle are paid
  • You may not offer a vehicle for sale under this policy if the vehicle is not currently titled in Wisconsin
  • If you choose to wholesale the vehicle or it is being sold to an out of state resident who will obtain title/registration in their home state, you must wait for a physical title to be issued and sent to you. For wholesale deals, you are required to provide the paper title to the purchasing dealer within 14 days of sale.

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