Getting a Texas salvage title is a procedure that can be completed through the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by owners of motor vehicles that are eligible to be branded as salvage. Note that the DMV will issue a car salvage certificate only if the vehicle in question is repairable and meets the state’s definition of a salvage vehicle. Thus, if the damages sustained by a car are extensive to the point that it can only be used as a source of scraps or parts, the vehicle will only qualify for a “non-repairable” title.

Once you obtain a salvage certificate in TX, you will have the option of repairing the vehicle in order to relicense it, thus being able to operate the car on public roads. In such cases, the vehicle will first have to complete an official anti-theft inspection for purposes of proving its roadworthiness and the origin of its component parts. The following sections provide detailed information about salvage and rebuilt title certificates in Texas.

What is a Texas salvage title?

A Texas salvage car title is a special type of certificate that determines the ownership of a vehicle that cannot be legally operated on public roads due to the damages that it has sustained. Therefore, the main purpose of this vehicle salvage certificate is to monitor all inoperable vehicles within the state and protect potential car buyers who wish purchase such vehicles. For instance, once a salvage brand is applied to a vehicle title, it will remain on its record permanently, which will consequently affect its selling price.

In addition to TX salvage titles, the DMV also issues “non-repairable” certificates, which indicate that a vehicle has been damaged to such an extent that it can only be used or sold for spare parts or scraps. While you can potentially repair and relicense salvage title cars, non-repairable vehicles will be permanently disqualified from receiving a new certificate of title and car registration card.

Texas Salvage Title Eligibility Requirements

Motor vehicles will only receive a salvage certificate in Texas if they meet the criteria to be branded as salvage. In most cases, this determination is made by auto insurance companies once they pay a total loss settlement for the vehicle. However, self-insured vehicle owners can also apply for a voluntary salvage title if they believe that their cars meet the requirements for this credential. Per current state law, motor vehicles of any model year will be considered salvage if they:

  • Have sustained damages that exceed their market value without the damages.
  • Are missing at least one major component part that prevents their safe and legal operation.
  • Are damaged and transferred within the state under a similar out-of-state salvage certificate.

Note: Motor vehicles will not be eligible for a TX salvage vehicle title if they are non-repairable, stolen or if they only sustained cosmetic damages.

How to Get a Salvage Title in Texas

Applying for a salvage title in Texas is a procedure that can easily be completed by submitting the necessary forms and fee payments by mail. Note that the steps to get a salvage certificate may vary slightly depending on whether you are applying as the original owner or an agent of another entity, such as an insurance company. The standard process to get a salvage title includes the following steps:

  1. Fill out the “Application for Salvage or Nonrepairable Vehicle Title (Form VTR-441)” document with the following information:
    1. Personal information about the owner
    2. A description of the vehicle
    3. The vehicle’s mileage reading
    4. Lien information, if applicable
    5. The date and the owner’s signature
  2. Obtain proof of ownership, such as the vehicle title, a salvage title or a manufacturer’s certificate of origin.
  3. Get proof of release of liens and/or any other supporting paperwork, if applicable.
  4. Arrange payment for the titling fee.
  5. Send the above items to one of the following addresses:

Regular mail:

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Titles and Registration Division
Title Control Systems
P.O. Box 26450
Austin, Texas 78755-0450

Express mail:

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Titles and Registration Division
Title Control Systems
4000 Jackson Ave
Austin, Texas 78731

If the original title certificate is missing, you may obtain a certified copy of the title for an extra fee within the same application form.

You will have to submit your request for a TX salvage car title within 30 days of the settlement date of the total loss claim. Otherwise, you must file this request within 30 days of the occurrence of the vehicle’s damages. Once the Texas DMV receives your application, it will manufacture a new title after it verifies that you have met all requirements. Generally, the state DMV will mail out the new salvage certificate within six days of receiving the request.

Salvage Car Inspections in Texas

You can apply for salvage title in Texas without submitting your vehicle to an inspection, since only a declaration of total loss will be required. On the other hand, if you rebuild the vehicle and choose to apply for a TX rebuilt title, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will have to inspect it thoroughly. The main purpose of this salvage vehicle inspection is to verify that the components used to rebuild the vehicle were not acquired illegally, as well as to check the car’s roadworthiness.

You can initiate the application process for a TX rebuilt salvage title once you or a rebuilder restores the car to an operable condition. In such cases, you and your mechanic will have to fill out the “DMV Rebuilt Vehicle Statement (Form VTR-61)” document, and submit it to a county tax assessor-collector office. You will also have to complete the “Application for Texas Title and/or Registration (Form 130-U),” and collect the vehicle salvage title and receipts for the parts used to rebuild it.

At this point, you can contact an authorized DPS inspection station and schedule a visit for your salvage car inspection. During the inspection procedure, you will have to submit the VTR-61 form and the proofs of ownership of the component parts. If your car passes this inspection, you will receive a vehicle inspection report (VIR), which you will have to submit along with the abovementioned paperwork when titling and registering your rebuilt vehicle through a DMV office. When licensing a vehicle with a rebuilt title, you may need to submit additional paperwork, such as a proof of auto insurance.

Texas Salvage Title Fees

An important step when applying for a salvage certificate or a restored salvage title in Texas is arranging payment for the applicable fees. The standard fee for both a salvage title and a “nonrepairable” certificate is currently set at $8. If you are would also like to apply for a certified copy of the title after losing the original document, you will have to pay an additional $2. When applying by express mail, additional costs may also apply.

On the other hand, when getting a rebuilt title in TX, you will have to pay other fees. In such cases, you will first have to arrange payment for any applicable inspection fees, before paying a $28 or $33 title application fee, as well as a $65 fee for the rebuilt salvage title.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.