When is a vehicle considered to be abandoned?
Virginia law (§ 46.2-1200) defines an abandoned motor vehicle as a motor vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home,
or part of a motor vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home that is:
- Left unattended on public property for more than forty-eight hours in violation of a state law or local ordinance, or
- Has remained for more than forty-eight hours on private property without the consent of the property’s owner, regardless of whether it was brought onto the private property with the consent of the owner or person in control of the private property, or
- Is left unattended on the shoulder of a primary highway.
What happens if my car breaks down and I have to leave it on the side of the highway?
If your vehicle is left unattended on the shoulder of a primary highway, the vehicle meets the definition of
abandoned vehicle and may be towed at the request of the locality and either transferred directly to a demolisher,
or disposed of using the Abandoned Vehicle Process (AVP). If the vehicle is entered into the AVP, the owner will
be notified by certified letter that their vehicle must be reclaimed within 15 days. If the vehicle is not
reclaimed, it may be auctioned, re-titled or demolished after an additional 21 days.
I gave my neighbor permission to park his vehicle in my yard last year, but he has refused my repeated requests to remove it. What can I do?
If your neighbor’s vehicle remains on your property for more than forty-eight hours without your consent, even
if you at first agreed to allow him to park on your property, the vehicle is defined as an abandoned vehicle.
You may use the AVP to begin the process of auctioning, re-titling or demolishing the vehicle.
What is the AVP?
State law automates DMV's AVP, making it easier for people to remove and dispose of an abandoned motor
vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home left on the highway and public property, or private property.
For a $25 AVP fee, information about an abandoned vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home in your possession
may be entered into the AVP on dmvNOW.com. Not all vehicles and users are eligible to utilize the AVP.
Vehicles which qualify for a Mechanic’s and Storage Lien may not be processed as abandoned vehicles.
The website explains the legal requirements for vehicle removal and disposition.
Owners of vehicles, trailers or manufactured homes that are considered abandoned may be notified by a certified
letter from DMV that they must reclaim their vehicle or trailer within 15 days (120 days for manufactured homes).
If it is not reclaimed, it may be auctioned, re-titled or demolished after an additional 21 days.
Who is eligible to use the AVP on DMV’s website?
Individuals, businesses, or government agencies in possession of a vehicle, trailer or manufactured home
that meets the definition of abandoned
How does the online AVP work?
The new procedure allows those in possession of an abandoned vehicle to initiate a records request on
www.dmvNOW.com. If a Virginia vehicle owner or lienholder is found during the records request, DMV will send a
certified letter advising them to remove the vehicle from the property.
If no vehicle owner is found in Virginia, DMV will provide that specific state's contact information for use
in a letter requesting the vehicle's owners or lienholders, provided the state participates in the National
Motor Vehicle Title Information System.
If the vehicle is not claimed after 15 days (120 days for manufactured homes), DMV's online process may be
used again to post an intent to auction the vehicle. You must be sure to post your intent to auction within
30 days from the date you first become eligible or the vehicle is inactivated and you will be required to
restart the AVP process. The intent to auction must remain posted for 21 days
before auctioning, titling or demolishing the vehicle. However, if no vehicle owner is located during the
initial records request, the vehicle may be demolished without posting an intent to auction.
Can local governments use the online AVP to obtain reimbursement for recovered,
inoperable abandoned vehicles in their localities?
No. Local governments (counties, cities, towns) who wish to apply for reimbursement under Virginia
Code §46.2-1207 for the removal and disposition of inoperable vehicles, trailers, or manufactured homes
abandoned in their locality must use the Vehicle Disposition History form (VSA 44) to apply for reimbursement
and to transfer possession to a demolisher or scrap metal processor.
Can vehicles, trailers, or manufactured homes that are left unclaimed in tow yards be considered abandoned?
If a vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home is dropped off at a tow yard, and not on behalf of the tow yard,
it may be processed as abandoned using the AVP only if it is left for more than 48 hours without the consent of
the property owner, regardless of whether or not it was brought onto the private property with the consent of
If the vehicle, trailer or manufactured home does not meet the above criteria, a business that tows, recovers,
repairs, and/or stores a vehicle may use Virginia's Mechanic's or Storage Lien Process to recover costs.
Can I use the online AVP to remove manufactured homes abandoned on my property?
Yes. Provided the manufactured home has not been converted to real estate and meets the definition of abandoned,
manufactured homes can be disposed of using the online AVP. Check with your local tax office to determine if the
manufactured home is taxed as real estate.
Can I use the online AVP to record request transaction to search for Virginia owner(s) or lienholder(s) for vehicles
in my possession that are abandoned on property in another state?
Yes. If abandoned vehicle laws in the state where the vehicle is abandoned require you search for a Virginia owner
or lienholder, you can process a $25 record request using DMV’s online AVP process. DMV searches its records for Virginia
owners(s) and lienholder(s). DMV notifies any Virginia owner(s) and lienholder(s) on record by certified mail of the
location and contact information for the out-of-state abandoned vehicle. You will need to enter the vehicle’s VIN and
pay a $25 fee.
Can I search for an out-of-state abandoned vehicle record using the AVP search transaction?
No. Out-of-state abandoned vehicles do not remain in the Virginia Abandoned Vehicle Process files and are not searchable.
I inadvertently parked in a "no-parking" zone, my car was towed and I don't know where it was taken. How can I find it?
A searchable database of identified abandoned vehicles is available using the AVP on DMV's website, dmvNOW.com.
Not all vehicles towed for parking violations are considered abandoned or reported in DMV’s online AVP. However, if your vehicle is entered into
the AVP, you may search for the vehicle on the Abandoned Vehicle Search page using the vehicle’s VIN.
Information on vehicles and trailers is retained for 39 days, and information on manufactured homes is retained
for 144 days. A list of vehicles in the online database may also be requested at any DMV
customer service center. You may also check with the locality where
vehicle was towed to find information about its location.
What is a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique number assigned by the manufacturer to a vehicle, trailer,
or manufactured home for purposes of identification. Most vehicles have a 17-character VIN containing both letters
and numbers (ex. 1DAUY19H9SLA23318). You must have a valid VIN to use the online AVP.
Correct keying of the VIN into the AVP is essential to legally comply with Virgina’s Abandoned Vehicle
Laws. If a VIN is keyed into the online AVP incorrectly, you are required to remove the incorrect VIN
record and re-apply, pay the fee and key the vehicle information correctly.
Where can I find the VIN?
The VIN can be found on the vehicle’s title, registration, or certificate of insurance. Vehicles built after
1969 have the VIN on the driver’s side dashboard that is viewable through the windshield. There is also a VIN
plate in the engine compartment.
The VIN for a trailer can usually be found on a plate attached to the trailer tongue.
The VIN for a manufactured home, sometimes called an identification serial number, may be found stamped into the
metal on the front of the tow bar. The identification serial number may also be on a data plate typically found
near the electrical box in the home. A call to the manufacturer may help you locate the VIN.
How do I apply for the AVP record request if I don’t have a computer, or I don’t have internet access?
The AVP is an online-only process. You may apply for the AVP from any computer that has Internet access, such
as a computer located in a public library. You will need a valid email address to use the AVP
What do I do if the make, model or year that displays on my AVP receipt does not match the make, model, or year
for the vehicle, trailer or manufactured home in my possession?
Double check your VIN to see if you typed it correctly.
- If the VIN on your receipt is different than the VIN on the vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home, you
have typed the VIN incorrectly for the record request transaction. You must go to DMV’s website, remove the
record request, then initiate a new record request with the correct VIN. You will be required to restart
the 15-day waiting period and pay another $25 fee.
- If the VIN that displays on your receipt matches the VIN on the vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home,
but the make, model, or year does not match, contact DMV for further assistance by calling 1-866-DMVLINE (
1-866-368-5463) or (804)497-7100.
I'm in possession of an abandoned vehicle and my notice of intent to auction is on DMV's website.
However, my contact or vehicle location information is incorrect. How do get it corrected?
Go to DMV’s website, remove the record request and re-apply for the AVP. Please note that once you remove
your record request, you are starting the AVP again and must wait the 15 days (120 days for manufactured homes)
and pay the fee.
In the intent to auction phase, you may return to DMV’s website and remove the intent to auction, then repost
it with the corrected information. There is no fee when reposting your intent to auction but you must restart
the 21-day waiting period before being eligible to auction, title, or demolish the vehicle.
Do I have to post my intent to auction in other public locations once I have posted my intent to auction on DMV’s website?
No. You are not required to post notice of auction in other public places, including newspapers.
I lost my AVP receipt. How can I obtain a duplicate receipt?
You can request a duplicate receipt on DMV’s website. You will need the VIN to apply for a duplicate receipt.
I lost my Vehicle Removal Certificate (VSA 40). How can I obtain a duplicate VSA 40?
You can print another VSA 40 at the time you request a duplicate receipt.
Click “Print VSA 40," or you can print a blank VSA 40.
After the AVP requirements are successfully completed, how is a title for the vehicle obtained?
You must apply to title the vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home within 30 days at any DMV customer service
center or DMV Select, or you may mail your application along with all required documents and fees to:
Attn: Titles Work Center
P.O. Box 27412
Richmond, Va. 23269
What documents must be submitted to title the abandoned vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home?
If you sold the vehicle, trailer, or manufactured home at auction, you must provide the purchaser with
the completed VSA 40, the AVP receipt, and proof of purchase price such as a bill of sale.
To obtain a title for yourself, you must submit:
- Completed Application for Title and Registration (VSA 17A) or
- Application for Certificate of Title-Manufactured Home (VSA 17B),
- Completed Vehicle Removal Certificate (VSA 40),
- AVP receipt,
- Proof of address,
- $10 titling fee,
- Registration fee, if you choose to register the vehicle.
- If purchased at auction, purchaser must submit: