What Paperwork Do I Need To Sell My Car?

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Maybe you’re downsizing, or maybe you’re going to retire and travel. Whatever the reason, it’s time to sell your car. The process of selling your car is a straightforward one, but if you’ve never sold a vehicle before you may need some guidance. 

In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “What paperwork do I need when I sell my car?” After reviewing, you’ll be better prepared to ensure the sale of your car goes smoothly. 

What Papers Do I Need to Sell My Car?

Before we begin, it’s important to note that requirements may vary by state. For instance, some states may ask that you notarize a title. In other states, you may be required to turn in your vehicle’s tags. 

Use this guide as a checklist, but confirm with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that you have all the documents you need to transfer ownership of your car. 

Your Vehicle Title

The most important document you’ll need to sell your car is the title for your vehicle. In short, whoever holds the title is the rightful owner of the car, so transferring this document is critical.

Your title is just a single piece of paper with information about your car, including your name and address and the vehicle identification number. It’s not uncommon to lose this document; if you can’t find your title, contact your DMV. For a fee, they can assist you in replacing the document. 

Inspection and Maintenance Records

While not required for the sale of your car, it’s a good idea to furnish the vehicle’s new owner with the most recent inspection certificate (or smog certificate where applicable) and maintenance records. 

Again, this isn’t necessary but can certainly help you should questions about the care and condition of the car arise later. Newly installed tires replaced batteries and even timing belts can easily be documented by including receipts for repairs when your car changes ownership. 

A Bill of Sale

In some states, you won’t be required to give the DMV a bill of sale. However, it’s a handy record of the sale of your car that only takes a few minutes to complete, so we do recommend that you create one. 

You can find sample bills of sale online, or just create your own. The information that belongs on a bill of sale includes:

  • A description of the vehicle (eg. Black Ford Focus)
  • Your name and address
  • The buyer’s name and address
  • The VIN and current mileage (at time of sale)
  • The date of and amount of sale (include the payment method)
  • Any special conditions to the sale (warranty or other information would go here)

Your bill of sale can be handwritten, but even if it’s not required by the state, it’s a good idea to have the document as proof of the transfer. 

As-Is or Warranty Information

In the rare event that you’re transferring a warranty with your vehicle, this information should be noted in the bill of sale. However, you should also pass all paperwork pertaining to the warranty along to the vehicle’s new owner. 

Warranty transfer will typically need to be completed through the dealership or third party provider; check with the warranty service to ensure all paperwork is complete. 

FAQ about Bill of Sale and Other Paperwork

Selling your car to a new owner is a straightforward process but if this is your first time doing so, you may have a few questions about it. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the paperwork you need to sell a car. 

How do I make sure my registration is canceled?

After you sell your car, you’ll need to visit your DMV or give the state office a call. Inform them that you’ve sold the vehicle. The DMV will then tell you whether you need to turn in your license plates, and whether you’re eligible for a refund of the registration fees you paid. 

Does my insurance transfer to the new owner?

Absolutely not. In the same way that you’ll need to inform the DMV of the sale of your car, you’ll also need to let your insurance company know that you’re no longer liable for the vehicle. You can cancel the coverage or transfer it to a replacement vehicle, sometimes it is as simple as clicking a few links online. 

Why would I need an as-is statement?

An as-is bill of sale or statement, signed by both parties, will protect you should problems arise with your car following the sale. For instance, if the alternator quits a week after you sell your car, an as-is statement proves that the new owner is responsible for those repairs.