How Do You Get an Abandoned Vehicle Title in Ohio?

The process for titling an abandoned vehicle in Ohio is pretty convoluted, but, with some perseverance, it can be done.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Hillary Kobayashi
Getting a title for an abandoned vehicle in
is not a simple process, and involves some patience and legal wrangling. 
In Ohio, getting an abandoned vehicle title can be a pretty lengthy process. If you’re the owner of a
car repair
shop, storage facility, or towing company that has an abandoned vehicle on the premises, acquiring the title is a bit more streamlined. 
But if not, it’s going to take time, perseverance, and paperwork—and maybe an attorney.

What is an abandoned vehicle title? 

Essentially, an abandoned vehicle title is just what it sounds like—a title for a vehicle that has been deemed abandoned. Since the owner has abandoned the car, it can potentially be claimed by someone else—but it’s a lot more complicated than just yelling “dibs!” 
The laws that determine what constitutes an abandoned vehicle vary by state, so it’s important to know the specifics of the state where you live. In Ohio, a vehicle is considered abandoned on private property if it’s been left there for 72 hours or more without permission. 
If it’s on a road, highway, or public property, then it’s considered abandoned after 48 hours
In accordance with
Ohio Revised Code § 4505.101
, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has laid out some very specific steps for a repair garage, storage facility, or towing company to claim a vehicle that’s been abandoned at their place of business.  However, the BMV offers little to no guidelines on how you can get a title for an abandoned vehicle in a non-business-related situation. 
For more information on what to do if you are the owner of one of these kinds of businesses in Ohio and have an abandoned vehicle on your hands,
click here
.  But for the rest of us, here’s what we know!
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Can you claim an abandoned vehicle in Ohio?

Yes, you can—but there are a lot of steps involved
Before you decide to do the legal wrangling of attempting to title a vehicle that’s been abandoned on your property, be sure it’s worth it to you. If it’s a 1988
Festiva, maybe just have it towed away and move on with your life.
But if it’s a 1968
Dodge Charger
that just needs a little TLC to return to its former glory, then it might be worth your efforts to pursue getting a clear title for it!  

How to title an abandoned vehicle in Ohio

So let’s say you do want to claim that car that you found abandoned on your lawn the morning after the Buckeyes won their big conference game. After 48 hours have passed, here’s a rough outline of what you’ll need to do: 
  • Visit the office of the clerk of courts to find out if there is a lien on the vehicle
  • If there is a lienholder, you must attempt to contact them via certified letter to tell them that you intend to petition the court for a certificate of title. Be sure to keep your receipt for the certified mail, as you’ll need it for court later. 
  • If you don’t get a reply, then you can proceed. 
  • It’s a little unclear as to what happens next, but it seems like you’ll have to complete a bunch of paperwork, after which an appointment will be made for an Ohio law enforcement officer to come out and look at the vehicle. 
  • After the inspection, the officer will give you a BMV form that will be required in court. 
  • You’ll now need to take all your paperwork to the Clerk of Courts General Office, pay a fee, and get another pack of forms and instructions.
  • If all the paperwork is done correctly, you’ll then go before a judge, who will hopefully decide that you can get the title. 
  • Once you have the court-ordered decree, you can finally head to the title office and apply for an auto title. 
Easy, right? Are you sure you don’t just want to call a towing service? 

How much does it cost to register an abandoned motor vehicle in Ohio?

The cost of registration and titling fees in Ohio is about $40. It varies according to what kind of vehicle it is, and you can check the
Ohio BMV’s fees
online for the details. But this is just what it costs after the vehicle has been determined to be unclaimed and you’ve gotten permission to get the title. 
Just getting to the point where you’re allowed to get the title involves several fees that you’ll have to pay to the county clerk. It’s unclear exactly how much those fees are, but the process isn’t free. 
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Abandoning a car is a misdemeanor in Ohio. If it’s successfully traced back to you (which is easy to do via the vehicle identification number), you can be held responsible for any and all costs incurred for the disposal of the vehicle.
Contact your local police department to report an abandoned vehicle in Ohio. If you want to go ahead with getting a title for the abandoned vehicle, then the police department should be able to set you in the right direction.
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