People in a meeting discussing electronic titles, and what electronic lien and title transfers are.
ComplianceFinanceMarch 12, 2020

Learn the basics about Electronic Lien and Title (ELT)

Paper titles are cumbersome and inefficient to manage. States have different requirements regarding who must keep the documents. Many vehicle owners lose the paperwork, and making changes to titles can be time-consuming and expensive.

As a lender, you want to encourage car and truck owners to complete the title and registration process to secure your lien and prioritize your interest over other potential creditors’ interests. To do that, you must first understand the basics of an Electronic Lien and Title (ELT).

What is an Electronic Lien and Title (ELT)?

Several states have adopted ELT systems to improve the vehicle titling process. So, what is an ELT? It's a system that electronically creates, saves, and alters vehicle titles. The ELT system eliminates the need for paper titles.

In states where ELT is available, the process is smoother for everyone. You and the other parties involved can manage the titling process electronically instead of wasting time and money with the storage and retrieval of a paper title. And best of all, you might even receive notification of perfection within one business day, depending on the jurisdiction. But ELT isn't available everywhere, and when it's an option, the process varies from state to state.

What is an eLien?

An electronic lien — also known as eLien — is a valid, enforceable lien. Its function does not differ from a paper lien as both liens originate in state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices. The primary difference between a paper lien and an electronic lien is simply how the information is stored.

How does an electronic title transfer work?

The application process for an electronic title transfer is relatively simple. Paper titles are submitted to the DMV under the same procedures as when a lien is created. However, there is an additional identification number known as the “ELT ID Number” on the lien filing paperwork.

After an application is approved, the state DMV will send an electronic notification to the lienholder in place of a paper title certificate. Some states' DMVs require lienholders to first enroll with a service provider to view and manage an electronic lien.

When the lien is satisfied, the lienholder releases it electronically through their service provider. First, a notification that the lien has been satisfied is sent to the DMV. The electronic title is issued either automatically to the registered owner of the vehicle or to a new lienholder if one is added.

A lien is perfected when registration or titling documents are submitted to the DMV and processed. The DMV then sends an electronic notification to the lienholder. ELT service providers do not send electronic records to the DMV to perfect the lien.

Why can Electronic Liens and Titles seem complicated?

Adoption of ELT programs is ongoing, and the rules and processes vary by state. Each state chooses how and when to implement an ELT program and sets its own rules. This can add to the complexity of an already complex paper titling process — especially in states where lenders must juggle two separate processes simultaneously.

For example, California currently operates a voluntary ELT program. But the state plans to begin mandatory participation in 2021, according to the DMV.

The good news is that efforts are already in place to standardize the process. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) has created a standard for implementing and using an ELT system. But only six states currently use the AAMVA ELT Specifications: Arizona, Hawaii, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. The rest have created unique standards or rely on various third-party providers.

How can working with a service provider help your lien and title ELT program?

Navigating different ELT rules across jurisdictions can be challenging. Instead of trying to stay on top of this constantly changing and complex area of law, partner with Wolters Kluwer Lien Solutions to efficiently handle the lien and title management process. Learn more about our title management services to help you keep your liens perfected — always.

Rick Vanko Senior Product Manager
Product Manager
Rick Vanko is the Motor Vehicle Solutions Product Manager for Wolters Kluwer Lien Solutions. Vanko’s responsibilities include developing automated lien perfection and portfolio management solutions. These solutions help the company’s customers more effectively complete lending transactions with a higher rate of perfected claims and minimized risk. 

Back To Top