A quick guide on how to get a lien removed from a motorcycle or car in Ontario in three steps. Have you bought a vehicle with a lien on it? No problem. I’ll show you how I got through it and you can too.
So you thought you found your dream motorcycle or car, and everything looked good until you noticed that it had a lien on it when you looked at the Bill of Sale or got to the counter at Service Ontario. Now what?
Getting a lien removed from a motorcycle or car in Ontario is actually pretty easy. You can do it just about three steps. Just find out the organization that has the loan on your vehicle and contact them. If the vehicle has been paid for, they can help you remove it. If the bike hasn’t been paid for, don’t worry, I’ll give you some help there too.
Read on for the step-by-step walkthrough on how to get a lien removed from a motorcycle or car here in Ontario. It took me a lot of running around, because no one gave me the full story, so I’ve organized it succinctly to guide you through the process.
Getting a lien removed from a motorcycle or car when the debt has been paid
If you’re certain, or fairly certain that the debt has already been paid, you’re in luck, this is going to be easy. We’ll have your new-to-you used motorcycle or car lien-free and ready to transfer in your name in three easy steps.
Step 1: Find out who the Secured Party is
The first step in getting a motorcycle or car lien removed is determining who the Secured Party is. The Secured Party is the financier who loaned the money that was borrowed against your car or motorcycle. They could be a bank, a private lending company, a private individual who offered a loan against the vehicle, etc.
You can find out who the Secured Party (the lender) is by getting the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) and turning to the second last page. On that page you’ll find a ton of information on your motorcycle or car’s lien including:
- VIN # – Your vehicle’s unique Vehicle Identification Number
- Lien File Number
- Registration Number
- Debtor(s) – The person or people who borrowed money against the vehicle
- Secured Party – The financing company, bank, or individual(s) who was/is owed money
Pay special attention to the Secured Party, as you’ll need that for the next step.
Step 2: Call up the Secured Party
The fastest way to get a lien removed from your car or motorcycle starts with making a phone call to the Secured Party. First, enter their name and address into Google to get a phone number for them, then give them a ring.
When you call them, you should have the Used Vehicle Information Package on hand, as they will ask you for some of the information mentioned in Step 1.
The Secured Party (the lender) will be able to tell you if the lien was paid off. In other words, whether or not the debt owing on the motorcycle or car was paid. Assuming it was, we have two options for moving forward in Step 3. If you find out the debt wasn’t paid, you can keep scrolling down a little further.
Step 3a: Get a Lien Release Letter from the Secured Party
There are two ways to get a lien removed from a car or motorcycle in Ontario. The first way is by getting what’s called a Lien Release Letter.
The Secured Party (the lender) can create a Lien Release Letter for you, that explains that your motorcycle or car has been paid in full, and releasing the vehicle of the lien. Depending on the Secured Party, this will either be mailed to you, or e-mailed to you. Either way you need to bring a hard copy in to Service Ontario with. You can’t simply show it to them on your phone.
Service Ontario would take your letter, scan it, make a copy, add it to their records, update their record for your car or motorcycle’s VIN#, and then they can print you a new Used Vehicle Information Package stating that there are now 0 liens registered against the vehicle.
Step 3b: Wait for the database push to happen
Unfortunately, some lenders won’t give you a letter. Instead, they will check their records to make sure that the debt was paid, and if so, they will push an update to Service Ontario’s database.
With the database push, everything is now out of your hands. You don’t need to print anything to bring with you on your next trip to Service Ontario, but this also means that you’ll be stuck waiting for the two parties to send, receive, and process the data before the lien will be removed from your motorcycle or car. This can take up to 10 business days.
With a motorcycle I was interested in buying, I waited a full 12 business days because I didn’t want to risk having to make an extra trip. When I arrived I was happy to see that the new Used Vehicle Information Package now read “0 lien(s) registered against this vehicle” – Success!
Buying a vehicle with an unpaid lien or debt
I was going to make an article and video sharing my success. Then I thought, “What about the people who buy a motorcycle or car that wasn’t paid off?” So I decided to do a little research on that for you.
At this point, let’s assume that you’ve bought a car or a motorcycle that wasn’t paid off, and there is a lien registered against the vehicle, and you’ve tried contacting the seller but he or she isn’t cooperating. In this position I assumed there would be three options:
- Calling OMVIC (the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council)
- Calling the police – after all, some shady business was definitely happening here
- Calling a lawyer
So first I called up OMVIC
The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council administers and enforces various regulations, code of ethics, government acts and more that are related to cars and motorcycles. My initial thought was: “If something wrong is happening and it’s related to a vehicle sale or purchase in Ontario, these guys are the ones to call.”
Unfortunately I called OMVIC not once, but twice, and both times their Hold system dropped my call right around the twelve-and-a-half minute mark.
Having wasted nearly half an hour for no reason whatsoever, I decided to move on. I’m not sure if OMVIC’s system had an issue that day, but I still recommend you try calling them at (416) 226-4500. A tip from me to you: If their system hangs up on you the first time, don’t bother calling back a second time.
Then I called the police
Then I called the police, but as this wasn’t an emergency, I didn’t call 9-1-1, I looked up the phone number of the police department nearest me. You can find this on Google with a quick “Police department near me” search.
I explained a hypothetical situation to the officer: “A friend bought a motorcycle from a seller, and then discovered the motorcycle has a lien on it, but now the seller has stopped responding. What can we do?”
Unfortunately, the officer said that the police couldn’t help, and he recommended my hypothetical friend should speak to a lawyer.
Speaking to a lawyer
It seems that if you find yourself in a position where you’ve bought a motorcycle or car with a lien registered against it, and you’ve tried my three steps, and the seller isn’t cooperating, your best bet is to speak to a lawyer.
Going the legal route can be expensive, but you could have your costs paid for down the road. And it beats paying someone else’s debt.
Resources for avoiding buying a vehicle with a lien
Here are some links that might help you to avoid buying a motorcycle or car with a lien:
Ontario’s Access Now: You can create an account on Access Now to lookup liens against the vehicle. A search on the VIN # should cost you $8 here.
CARFAX: CARFAX will tell you some history of the vehicle, along with whether there are any liens on it. CARFAX is more expensive than using Ontario’s Access Now system, but there’s no need to create an account so the whole process is a little faster.
Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) online purchase: You should ask your seller to supply you with a Used Vehicle Information Package before you buy any car or motorcycle in Ontario, but if they refuse, you can always buy one online here. Unfortunately they will only send it to you via snail mail.
OMVIC: OMVIC is here to help consumers. If you’ve already purchased a motorcycle or car with a lien, and my three steps above didn’t work, you should contact them. Hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did getting through to them. Visit their website here.