Before you can sell a vehicle, you’re going to need the right paperwork. A smooth vehicle sale can crumble if you don’t have certain documents ready. So without further ado, here are the 6 documents you need to sell a vehicle and properly transfer the title:
The vehicle title is a legal document issued by the DMV that states the current owner of the vehicle, the vehicle identification number (VIN), year, make, and model. A vehicle title cannot be bought from a company or downloaded online, it is a legal document provided by the DMV agency in your state.
On the back of every title is the section for the current owner to transfer ownership. Make sure to complete the transfer in its entirety, with all of the details, and the appropriate signature. Do not sign a blank title. Signing a blank title is considered an “open title” and is illegal. Be sure to examine the title transfer section carefully as some states also require the buyer’s signature. Ensure all signatures are valid and present before parting with the document. Before handing the signed title over to the new owner, make sure to take a photo of the front and back for your records. In case you need to prove you sold the vehicle, this can be used as evidence.
Bill of sale
The bill of sale is the receipt proving you’ve sold the vehicle. It also determines the conditions of the sale, 30-day warranty, as-is, etc. The format of the bill of sale is determined by the rules of the states where the vehicle is to be titled. Each state has its own requirements for a bill of sale, however, they’re very similar. Even if your state doesn’t have specific requirements for a bill of sale, we highly recommend that you still write one up. The buyer will still need this document when it comes time to transfer the title. Always make a copy of the bill of sale for your records before finishing the transaction.
The federal and state governments require that at the time of sale, the mileage of the vehicle is recorded. Make sure to be as precise as possible and to properly execute this document. Some odometer statements will require a local Sheriff to inspect the vehicle’s odometer to verify the number. If you’re unsure of the mileage, be sure to note there is an odometer discrepancy on the document in the proper section.
Lien release letter
If there is a lien against the vehicle, typically meaning if the vehicle was financed, you’ll need to obtain a lien release letter before you can sell the vehicle. A vehicle title cannot be transferred if there is a lienholder listed as a security interest on the title. If the lienholder is no longer interested in pursuing the vehicle, they may opt to send a letter of non-interest instead.
State new title application
Every time ownership is transferred, a new title is issued. To obtain a new title, the buyer will need to submit a new state title application for their state. Locate the state’s new title application and prepare it with vehicle information for your buyer, along with any other necessary information. This isn’t required, but it allows for a smoother sales process and ensures all details needed from you are provided. Additionally, some states are now requiring the seller to sign the state’s new title application. Be sure to check the laws of the state where the vehicle is being transferred to ensure all boxes are checked.
Notice of sale
The notice of sale is an often overlooked part of selling a vehicle. When you sign the title over to the new owner, it doesn’t automatically change anything in the DMV’s records. You will be listed as the owner of the vehicle until the buyer transfers the title or you submit a notice of sale. It’s imperative to submit a notice of sale rather than waiting for the buyer to do it because until you do, you are liable for anything the vehicle does, even though it’s out of your possession. To the DMV, you’re still the owner and the person who is liable. Each state has its own time frame to submit this document, ranging from 5 days-60 days.
When selling a vehicle, always take the necessary steps to protect yourself. With a little bit of research, you can put yourself at ease, knowing that you have everything you need.