How to Get a Title for an Abandoned Vehicle in West Virginia

by Tameka McSpadden
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Once a vehicle has been left unattended for over five days on open public or private property in West Virginia without permission it is considered to be abandoned. A vehicle can also be classified as abandoned after three days if it is left on private property without the consent of the property owner. After a vehicle has been abandoned it is possible for another individual to obtain the title if they adhere to the established laws.

Step 1

Contact the nearest local law enforcement agency regarding the abandoned vehicle after recording its license plate number and vehicle identification number. A law enforcement agent will recover the vehicle. If it is on private property and the individual notifying the law enforcement agency is not the property owner then the property owner will be given 30 days before the vehicle is removed.

Step 2

Wait for the law enforcement agency to complete the notification process. West Virginia law enforcement agencies are required to locate the last known vehicle owner and all lienholders. Law enforcement agencies will notify all interested parties within seven days of recovering the vehicle using registered or certified mail. During this time you should call the agency that recovered the vehicle to keep track of the status of the vehicle. The lienholders and vehicle owner have 10 days to respond to the notice. The West Virginia Division of Transportation will also be contacted if no vehicle owners respond before the law enforcement agency disposes of the vehicle.

Step 3

Purchase the vehicle at auction. West Virginia law requires that all vehicles be sold at auction or to a licensed salvage yard. Once the vehicle is purchased the law enforcement agency will issue a sales receipt to the purchaser that gives the new owner the right to the title free and clear of all liens.

Step 4

Apply for the title at one of the West Virginia's Division of Motor Vehicle Regional Offices. As of April 2010 a 5 percent titling sales tax and $10 title fee will be required at the time of application. If a new license plate is needed a $30 registration fee will also be charged. After the application is processed the title will be mailed to you within 10 business days.

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