Ordinarily, you cannot get a car out of impound without title. First, what is a car title? It is a legal document issued by the state government to show who owns the vehicle. Therefore, someone else can’t merely contact the impound lot to claim your vehicle.
When a car is released from the storage facility, all provided documents have to bear the owner’s name, which also has to match the name on the driver’s license. For a tow company, the necessary paperwork include a current registration certificate, an active insurance card listing you as an insured driver, and a valid inspection sticker on the car window. Moreover, tow companies prefer to deal with the title owner to avoid legal problems from releasing property to the wrong person.
How to Get a Car Out of Impound Without Title
Generally, only the registered owner can retrieve a car from an impound lot. However, there are a few exceptions where someone else could collect the vehicle on your behalf if you are:
- Too unwell or disabled
- In police custody
- Overseas, and unable to return in time to retrieve it yourself.
However, these reasons must be substantiated with proof. That said, below are the ways to get a car out of impound without title:
1. Contact the impound lot
Get in touch with the storage facility. The impound staff will determine what type of evidence they require, which could vary based on your state, circumstances, and their own policies. You will need to reach out to them directly to understand what you need to provide.
2. Prepare the necessary documents
The person delegated to get the car from impound without title will need to present:
- The car’s registration document
- Proof of identity, preferably a passport or photo driving license
- Proof of address. A photo driving license might suffice, but having additional documents such as recent utility bills is advised.
Additionally, you will require an authorization letter from the title holder, and a clear copy of their driver’s license or passport that includes their signature, which should match the one on the letter of authorization.
On your end, you will also need a valid driving license and insurance that covers the retrieval of an impounded car without a title. This could be challenging since many insurance policies specifically exclude this scenario. Also, a 30-day impounded car insurance can only be provided to the registered owners. You may need to engage a specialist recovery operator to help get the car out of the impound lot. Nevertheless, you might be able to get around using insurance to have an impounded car released.
While the impound staff can’t recommend a company, they may provide some options, or you could find one through an online search.
3. Present the proof of authorization
You must prove your right to the car, typically through a notarized “Power of Attorney” provided by the registered owner. If you can contact the owner, they should consult an attorney to prepare a limited power of attorney specifically for the vehicle. This document will permit you to represent them and help you retrieve the car from impound in their absence. The titled owner here can be the loan company, bank, or individual holding title.
The impound lot requires photo identification and a notarized power of attorney and payment of accrued fees. Laws and rules vary by state and impound lot.
Another scenario is if the person acts as an Estate Executor for a deceased individual, proven with notarized documentation.
Aside from these exceptions, only the Lien Holder or “Legal Owner” of the vehicle can claim an impounded car, typically notified when the Tow Yard begins Lien Sale Procedures to liquidate and assume ownership of the vehicle.
4. Pay the impound fees and drive home
Once the car is out of the impound lot, someone with a car insurance policy that covers driving any car not owned by them might be able to drive it (provided the owner grants permission, and the policy is checked thoroughly). All accumulated fees must be cleared to secure the vehicle release.
What if You Don’t Want the Owner to Find Out?
If you are trying to avoid the owner finding out about the impoundment of their car, you’ve probably reached a dead end. That’s because the impound yard will notify them and any lien holders about the situation via certified mail.
If the vehicle in question belongs to your spouse, you could try bringing your marriage certificate to the impound lot to see if they will release it based on that.
No other individuals can access or claim the vehicle from the Tow Yard on behalf of the registered owner. While these steps might seem excessive, they are your legally required alternative to getting a car out of impound without title.