A. Notwithstanding §§ 46.2-617 and 46.2-628, whenever a dealer licensed by the Board sells or conditionally sells and delivers to a purchaser a motor vehicle, the dealer may issue temporary license plates and a certificate of temporary registration. The temporary license plates and the certificates for temporary registration shall be obtained from the Commissioner or may be printed according to terms set by the Commissioner and may be issued if (i) the dealer has the title or the certificate of origin for the vehicle or (ii) is unable at the time of the sale to deliver to the purchaser the certificate of title or certificate of origin for the vehicle because the certificate of title or certificate of origin is lost or is being detained by another in possession or for any other reason beyond the dealer’s control. The temporary registration certificate shall bear its date of issuance, the name and address of the purchaser, the identification number of the vehicle, the registration number to be used temporarily on the vehicle, the name of the state in which the vehicle is to be registered, the name and address of the person from whom the dealer acquired the vehicle, and whatever other information may be required by the Commissioner. A copy of the temporary registration certificate and a bona fide buyer’s order shall be delivered to the purchaser and shall be in the possession of the purchaser at all times when operating the vehicle. One copy of the certificate shall be retained by the dealer, which copy may be retained in electronic format under terms set by the Commissioner, and shall be subject to inspection at any time by the Department’s agents. The original of the certificate shall be forwarded by the dealer to the Department directly on issuance to the purchaser if the vehicle is to be titled outside the Commonwealth, along with the physical or electronic application for title. The issuance of a temporary certificate of registration to a purchaser pursuant to this section shall have the effect of vesting sufficient interest in the vehicle in the purchaser for the period that the certificate remains effective for purposes of allowing the purchaser (a) to obtain and provide insurance coverage for the vehicle, including insurance indemnifying the purchaser against liability or providing for recovery for damage to or loss of the vehicle and (b) to operate the vehicle as if the purchaser had full rights of ownership, all subject to cancellation by applicable law or agreement between the dealer and the purchaser prior to the time the dealer submits an application for title along with all required fees. If the dealer or purchaser exercises the statutory or contractual rights to cancel a purchaser’s contract to buy a vehicle before application for title to the vehicle has been submitted to the Department in the name of the purchaser, the dealer shall have the right to possession of the vehicle without claim of possession by the purchaser within 24 hours of written or oral notice to the purchaser and without regard to the provision of Title 8.9A, provided the dealer’s right to possession is enforced otherwise in accordance with law and without breach of the peace. In the event the dealer regains possession of the vehicle, in the same condition, normal wear and tear excepted, as delivered to the purchaser, the purchaser shall have the right to possession of any trade-in and return of any down payment, and if the dealer fails to return the trade-in and/or down payment the dealer may be held liable under § 59.1-200 of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (§ 59.1-196), in addition to any other rights and remedies available by statute or contract.
B. A temporary certificate of registration issued by a dealer to a purchaser pursuant to this section shall expire when the certificate of title to the vehicle is issued by the Department in the name of the purchaser or vehicle ownership is transferred in accordance with § 46.2-603.1 and the permanent license plates have been affixed to the vehicle, but in no event shall any temporary certificate of registration issued under this section be effective for more than 30 days from the date of its issuance. In the event that the dealer fails to produce the old certificate of title or certificate of origin to the vehicle, fails to transfer vehicle ownership in accordance with § 46.2-603.1, or fails to apply for a replacement certificate of title pursuant to § 46.2-632, thereby preventing delivery to the Department or purchaser before the expiration of the temporary certificate of registration, the purchaser’s temporary rights may terminate and the purchaser shall have the right to return the vehicle to the dealer and obtain a full refund of all payments made toward the purchase of the vehicle, provided the purchaser provides notice to the dealer of a decision to return the vehicle before issuance of a title for the vehicle by the Department, less any damage to the vehicle incurred while ownership was vested in the purchaser, and less a reasonable amount for use not to exceed one-half the amount allowed per mile by the Internal Revenue Service, as provided by regulation, revenue procedure, or revenue ruling promulgated pursuant to § 162 of the Internal Revenue Code, for use of a personal vehicle for business purposes.
C. Notwithstanding subsection B, if the dealer fails to deliver the certificate of title or certificate of origin to the purchaser or fails to transfer vehicle ownership in accordance with § 46.2-603.1 within 30 days, a second temporary certificate of registration may be issued. However, the dealer shall, not later than the expiration of the first temporary certificate, deliver to the Department an application for title, copy of the bill of sale, all required fees and a written statement of facts describing the dealer’s efforts to secure the certificate of title or certificate of origin to the vehicle. On receipt of the title application with attachments as described herein, the Department shall record the purchaser’s rights hereunder to the vehicle and may authorize the dealer to issue a second 30-day temporary certificate of registration. If the dealer does not produce the certificate of title or certificate of origin to the vehicle before the expiration of the second temporary certificate, the purchaser’s rights to the vehicle under this section may terminate and he shall have the right to return the vehicle as provided in subsection B.
D. If the dealer is unable to produce the certificate of title or certificate of origin to the vehicle or transfer vehicle ownership in accordance with § 46.2-603.1 within the 60-day period from the date of issuance of the first temporary certificate, the Department may extend temporary registration for an additional period of up to 90 days, provided the dealer makes application in the format required by the Department. If the dealer does not produce the certificate of title or certificate of origin to the vehicle or transfer vehicle ownership in accordance with § 46.2-603.1 before the expiration of the additional 90-day period, the purchaser’s rights hereunder to the vehicle may terminate and he shall have the right to return the vehicle as provided in subsection B.
E. The Commissioner, on determining that the provisions of this section or the directions of the Department are not being complied with by a dealer, may suspend, after a hearing, the right of the dealer to issue temporary certificates of registration.The provisions of this section shall also apply to watercraft trailers and watercraft trailer dealers but shall not apply to all-terrain vehicles and off-road motorcycles.
1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:1; 1989, cc. 364, 727; 1995, cc. 767, 816; 2006, cc. 835, 897; 2009, c. 783; 2012, c. 650; 2015, c. 615.