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A salvage title is a document that DMVs grant to vehicle owners whose cars are no longer operable, like total losses. Typically, these cars are used for parts or for vehicle owners to reconstruct. You cannot apply for a salvage title online. You must apply in person at your DMV. To ensure that you are prepared for the application process, download our informative car title guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to complete the application process quickly and easily. You will also get in-depth details on how to complete other important title transactions, such as transferring ownership, updating information and replacing your title if it is lost.

2. In Person at the DMV

To obtain a salvage title, you must provide details that relate to your car, such as its make, model, VIN number, date of purchase, odometer reading and lienholder information. You must also provide additional information about the condition of the vehicle before it can be considered eligible for a salvage title. It can be complicated to determine what kind of vehicle is eligible for a salvage title, and filling out the application can be confusing. Furthermore, arriving at the DMV without the necessary documents or with a mistake on your application may require you to return to complete the transaction.


The Illinois salvage title certificates are a special type of vehicle titles issued for motor vehicles that have sustained extensive body damage in most cases. The Office of the Secretary of State (SOS) will issue a car salvage title only if the motor vehicle in questions is repairable. Note that insurance companies are responsible for applying for a salvage certificate in most cases, since they effectively become the new vehicle owner after paying a total loss claim.

If you believe that your vehicle is unrepairable, you can apply for a junking certificate. However, if you obtain a junking title, you will never be able to title and register your vehicle again. If you have restored a salvage vehicle, on the other hand, you can apply for an IL rebuilt title if and when your vehicle successfully passes an inspection procedure. Note that this requirement only applies to newer motor vehicles.

What is an Illinois salvage title?

The purpose of the Illinois salvage certificate is to document all wrecked motor vehicles within the state that cannot be legally operated on public roads. The state salvage titles indicate that the vehicle is repairable and can be relicensed only when the necessary repairs are conducted. Motor vehicles that are restored to operable status will then qualify for an IL rebuilt salvage title, which will be branded correspondingly to indicate that the vehicle had previously sustained extensive damages.

The SOS issues junking certificates, as well, which signify that the motor vehicle cannot be retitled or reregistered within the state. Vehicles that were branded as junk vehicles can only be used for spare parts. Note that you will be required to apply for a junk title within 15 days of junking your vehicle. You can legally possess, transport or sell a junked vehicle only after obtaining this vehicle death certificate via official channels.

Illinois Salvage Title Eligibility Requirements

The SOS Vehicle Services Department (VSD) will issue a salvage title in Illinois only for vehicles that meet the requirements to be branded salvage. The situations that require the issuance of a vehicle salvage certificate are outlined below:

  • An insurance company has paid off a total loss claim on a wrecked vehicle, thus becoming the sole owner of the motor vehicle.
  • An insurer has made payments to the vehicle owner after the theft of the motor vehicle.
  • The ownership of a salvage vehicle was transferred on a certificate of purchase after obtaining the vehicle at an auction, a public sale or other similar disposition.
  • The motor vehicle has been repossessed by a lienholder, it has sustained damages caused by fire, theft, collision or via other means, and the total cost to repair such damages is greater than 33 1/3 percent of its value without damages.
  • The passenger and/or trunk compartment of the vehicle were flooded by water and the cost to repair the damage exceeds 33 and 1/3 percent of its value without the damages.
  • The motor vehicle is part of a commercial vehicle fleet and it has sustained damages that exceed more than 33 and 1/3 percent of the vehicle value without damages.

Note: The vehicle owner can retain ownership of a damaged vehicle only if the vehicle is older than 9 model years and he or she reaches an agreement with the insurance company.

How to Get a Salvage Title in Illinois

If you are wondering how to get a salvage title in Illinois, note that the application process will vary depending on who applies for the salvage certificate. For instance, when applying for a salvage title insurance companies will be required to complete the following steps:

  1. Pay off the vehicle as a total loss vehicle.
  2. Collect the current vehicle title from the original owner.
  3. Fill out the SOS Application for Vehicle Transaction (Form VSD 190).
  4. Visit a nearby SOS motor vehicle licensing site to apply in person or prepare a mail-in application packet.
  5. Provide the applicable titling fee.

The application process for an IL salvage car title must be initiated within 20 days of obtaining the salvage vehicle. The department will process the titling request once it verifies the authenticity of the submitted paperwork and fee payment. However, when buying a salvage title car owners may be required to submit additional documents depending on their situation.

For example, if you have obtained your salvage vehicle at an auction, you will also need the certificate of purchase, in addition to the above items. Therefore, prior to requesting a salvage certificate, contact a nearby SOS facility to inquire about the exact requirements that apply in your case.

Salvage Car Inspections in Illinois

Completing a salvage vehicle inspection in Illinois when applying for a salvage certificate is not a required step. However, applicants for a rebuilt title will have to submit their restored motor vehicles to a thorough inspection. This examination is needed to determine whether or not the former salvage vehicle has been reconstructed to operable status. Note that the requirement to pass an IL restored salvage title inspection only applies for vehicles older than nine model years.

To complete the salvage car inspection, you will have to deliver the vehicle to an authorized inspection site after it has been restored by a licensed rebuilder. Note that you can obtain a short-term permit to operate the vehicle to the place of inspection. The inspection process includes an overall examination of the motor vehicle and the component parts used to rebuild it. The examiner will also check the vehicle identification numbers of all components by reviewing the Affirmation Supporting Salvage Certificate (Form RT 11.16) for purposes of determining whether or not they were stolen.

Illinois Salvage Title Fees

When obtaining an Illinois salvage title, applicants will be required to pay the salvage certificate fee in the amount of $4, which is much smaller than the standard titling fee of $95. If you are applying for a junking certificate instead of a car salvage title, on the other hand, you will not be required to pay any costs.

However, if you are getting a rebuilt car title, you will have to pay several fees. First, you will have to arrange payment for the $94 vehicle inspection cost. Then, you will be required to pay the standard titling fee and the applicable registration costs, which will vary depending on several factors surrounding your motor vehicle.

Last updated on Wednesday, February 20 2019.

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