What Happens to Your Tag When Your Car is Repossessed

Car repossession is not what you can wish even your worst enemy and the reason is because, it is a sad thing. The thought of loosing your car simply because you’re not able to continue the payment is sad and depressing. Your lien company has to repossess the car if you fail to continue the payment or no longer able to pay for the car.

When a car is repossessed, it triggers a series of events that extend beyond the mere repossession itself. One aspect of concern for many individuals is the fate of their vehicle’s license plate or tag. Understanding what happens to the tag in such situations is important to help you make proper decision. Therefore, what happens to your tag when your car is repossessed?

your car is repossessed, it will be repossessed with the tags, you will be called by the repossession company to collect the tags after which you can return them to the DMV for cancellation or have them connect to another vehicle of your own. 

What Happens to Your Tag When Your Car is Repossessed?

Below are what happens to your tags or license plates when your car is repossessed:

1. The Tags are Repossessed with the Car

When your car is repossessed, it is repossessed with the tags and it remains with the car until proper arrangements are made for you to come collect them.

The reason for this is because, when a car is about to be repossessed, you will not be given the chance to remove the tags or license plate numbers before the repo man tows the vehicle. He will tow the car alongside the tags.

The only time car tags are not repossessed with the vehicle is when you know for sure that the said car will soon be repossessed. If you are not able to continue the car payment for a while, and you have no intention of continuing the payment, you already know that the lien company must be preparing to come take their car. You can remove the tags before the come for the repossession.

Removing the car tags before the car is repossessed is possible. The only downside is that, you will no longer be able to drive the car. However, since repo agents can repossess your vehicle even in your driveway, you can remove the tags while the vehicle is parked on your driveway, the repo man will just come and tow the car away.

In other words, if you fail to remove the tags, the car will be repossessed with the tags. But you will be contacted sooner to come pick it up as well as other personal belongings that were in the car when it was repossessed.

2. The Tags Will Not Be Automatically Transferred to Your Lender

When your car is repossessed, the tags are not automatically transferred to your lender. No, it’s not done that way.

The fact that they have taken ownership of your vehicle because of your inability to pay for the vehicle doesn’t mean the tags are automatically transferred to them after repossession.

The tags will still be registered under your name until you do the needful because it is personal belongings.

3. You Will be Contacted to Come collect the Tags

After your car is repossessed, you will be contacted to come pick your personal belongings which includes your tags. Since the tags are registered under your name, they are your personal belonging.

Once you’re contacted for the tags, you should go collect them. Don’t leave them with the repossession company or on the repossessed vehicle because it is part of your personal belongings.

3. The Tags Can be Returned to the DMV

After you have collected the tags from the repo agents, you can return them to the DMV for proper documentation. If you fail to collect the tags, the repo agent may remove the tags and return them to the DMV for proper documentation.

Nevertheless, if you’d removed the tags before your car was repossessed, you can voluntarily return the tags to the DMV yourself.

Surrendering the tags helps to DMV officially end your association with the repossessed car, preventing any future liability or confusion.

4. The Tags Can be Used in Another Car

After returning the tags to the DMV, you can choose what to do with the tags according to the DMV approved recommendations.

You can decide to let go of the tags and have the DMV remove them from your name and destroy them or have the tags connected to another car of your own.

If you have another vehicle, you can transfer the license plates to another vehicle which is good if you plan to purchase a new vehicle and want to retain your existing license plates.

However, if you don’t have any intention of using the tags again, you can have the DMV cancel the tags. Cancelling the registration ensures that you are no longer responsible for the vehicle, and it may have implications for insurance and other associated fees.

Can I Transfer my License Plate to Another Vehicle Before Repossession?

You may be able to transfer your license plate to another vehicle before repossession if the DMV of your state of residence allow such. But if they don’t, you won’t be able to do so.

Transferring a license plate to another vehicle is a process that involves certain requirements and paperwork. However, attempting to transfer the license plate to another vehicle just before repossession may raise legal and ethical concerns.

Laws regarding license plate transfers differs from one jurisdiction to another, but generally, if you’re aware that your vehicle is about to be repossessed due to missed payments, attempting to transfer the license plate to another vehicle might be viewed as an evasion tactic.

It’s important to act in accordance with the law and any agreements you have with the lender. If you’re facing financial difficulties, it’s advisable to communicate with the lender to explore possible solutions or arrangements.

You can also contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent authority. They are the one responsible for license plates transfer and in best position to tell you the possibilities.

Can Your Car Get Repossessed for Expired Tags?

No, you cannot be repossessed because of expired tags because while having expired tags on your car is a violation of the law, it is not a direct cause for repossession.

Car repossession usually occurs when there are outstanding payments on the vehicle, and the borrower has defaulted on the loan agreement.

However, having expired tags can lead to other legal consequences, such as fines or penalties, depending on local regulations but not a cause for repossession.


Knowing what happens to your tag when your car is repossessed is important to know the steps to take to avoid having issues with the DMV and other law enforcement agencies.

When your car is repossessed, it is repossessed with the tags. However, since your lender cannot automatically transfer the tags to themselves, you will be contacted to come collect the tags as well your personal belongings that were in the car when it was repossessed.

After you have collected your tags, you can return them to the DMV to either disassociate your name from the tags and cancel them or have them transferred to another car of your own.