Abandoned Vehicle Titles in Florida

To get an abandoned vehicle title in Florida, you’ll have to notify law enforcement and wait 90 days for the car to go unclaimed.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Bellina Gaskey
background
To get a title for an abandoned car in
Florida
, you need to call the local police department and try to find the owner. If the vehicle isn't claimed within 90 days, you (the person who found it) can claim ownership.
If you notice an abandoned vehicle, you might be tempted to just contact a towing company and have it . But that's not the only thing you can do with an abandoned car in Florida, especially if you own the property where the vehicle was left. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about abandoned vehicle titles in Florida in the article below.

What is an abandoned vehicle title?

A car that has been left on someone else's property without permission is considered abandoned. A vehicle can be considered abandoned anywhere from a few hours to 30 days, depending on the state you live in. The time frame also varies depending on whether the vehicle was left on public property, private property, or along a roadway.
In some states, the owner of the property where the car is found can then get legal ownership of it—this is what an abandoned vehicle title grants.

Can you claim an abandoned vehicle in Florida?

Yes, you can claim an
abandoned vehicle title
in Florida, but you’ll have to follow some specific steps before you can claim ownership of it.
Sections 705.103, 713.78, and 320.01 of the Florida statutes explain how to declare a car abandoned and put the title in the name of the person who found it. We’ll describe the steps in more detail down below.
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How to title an abandoned vehicle in Florida

If you’re looking to title an abandoned car in Florida, your first step will be notifying law enforcement in the town or county where you found the vehicle.
The police will put a notice on the car if it is parked on public property, and the owner will have a certain amount of time to remove the vehicle. If no one moves it, then the police will be towing and storing it. At this point, you can file a Florida lost property claim form, stating that you want the car if no one else does. Just obtain the form and submit it to law enforcement.
Then, go to a nearby Florida Department of Motor Vehicles office (flhsmv.gov) and ask the staff to run a title search and give you the contact information for the owner and lienholder (if applicable). You'll need the license plate number—if the car still has one—or the
vehicle identification number
(VIN). Check the dashboard or door frame for the VIN.
Florida law states that 90 days must pass before a car is officially considered abandoned.
During this time, the person who finds it has to try to get in touch with the real owner. You can send a certified letter with a return receipt requested to the owner's address. You might also place a small ad in the local media describing the vehicle and requesting information on who owns it.
If the registered owner cannot be located and 90 days have passed without them contacting the police, you can claim the abandoned property through the DMV.
Aside from the steps listed above, here are the other main rules to follow at the DMV when you file for a claim title:
  • Your name must be registered as the property owner on the Florida County property records at the address where the car was discovered
  • Your bill cannot include parts, labor, or repairs
  • Costs from any towing companies cannot be claimed
  • The title status can not be a Certificate of Destruction
  • If the claim of lien gets paid, you have to give back the car
MORE: Florida squatter laws

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

While there are no specific fees listed online for registering an abandoned car in the state of Florida, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
site
lists the cost of a motor vehicle title between $75-$85.
On top of the car title costs, you might have to pay for any extra storage or transport costs that the police had to pay.
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FAQs

There are no legal penalties for abandoning a car in Florida—but if you do not respond to the notice of removal and possession of the vehicle sent by law enforcement within 5 days, then they can keep the car for department use.
If no one claims the car after 35 days (or 50 days if it is less than three years old), it can be given to charity or sold at auction.
To report an abandoned vehicle in Florida, check your city or county’s official website. They will either have a form that you can fill out or a number listed that you can call to let law enforcement know about the abandoned car.
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