Bill Of Sale For Automobiles How To Guide

How to Create a Bill of Sale When Selling a Car

Selling a car privately instead of trading it in or selling to a dealer requires creating your own bill of sale as proof of the transaction. This is an important legal document that helps protect both the buyer and seller. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make a bill of sale when selling a car privately.

Why You Need a Bill of Sale

A bill of sale for a car serves a few key purposes:

  • It documents that a sale took place for the stated amount
  • It provides buyer and seller information
  • It includes key details about the vehicle like VIN, mileage, etc.
  • It protects both parties if questions about the sale come up later

Without a proper bill of sale, you run the risk of legal issues down the road if there is a dispute over the sale details, ownership, etc. It’s an essential document in any car transaction between private parties.

Gather Necessary Information

Before creating the actual bill of sale document, you’ll want to gather the following information:

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Make, model, year, color, and body style of car
  • Odometer reading at time of sale
  • Full names and addresses of buyer and seller
  • Sale price and date
  • Description of any warranties or guarantees made about the vehicle’s condition
  • Signatures of both parties

Having these details available will allow you to fully fill out the bill of sale form.

Use a Bill of Sale Template

Instead of trying to format your own document, it’s highly recommended to use a bill of sale template. These contain the necessary fields and legal language already structured for you. Most templates follow the same general format:

  • Seller and buyer sections with areas for names, signatures, addresses, contact info, etc.
  • Vehicle details section for the VIN, mileage, year/make/model, etc.
  • Sale details like date, location, price, taxes paid
  • Area for describing any deposits, warranties, guarantees, or other terms
  • Signature fields for both parties

Rather than trying to write this from scratch, download a free bill of sale template that you can print out and fill in by hand, or use digitally on a tablet/computer.

Fill in the Details

Once you have a template, fill in every field with the relevant information about the vehicle sale. Important details to complete include:

  • VIN, year, make, model, body type, color, and odometer reading
  • Both parties’ full legal names and current addresses
  • Sale date and location (typically your city and state)
  • Sale price in both numbers and written out long form (e.g. $5,000 and Five Thousand Dollars)

In the area for additional terms and conditions:

  • Note if the car is being sold “as-is” with no warranty
  • List any known defects or issues disclosed to the buyer
  • Include any other guarantees, deposits, or agreements made between parties

Thoroughly filling in all fields protects both buyer and seller if questions about the sale come up later.

Sign Your Bill of Sale

To complete the bill of sale, both buyer and seller need to sign and date the document. Be sure to review all the details first and make sure both parties agree to and understand the transaction terms. Once signed, the bill of sale becomes a binding record of the sale between parties.

Both buyer and seller should retain either an original or copy of the signed document for their records going forward. This signed bill of sale can serve as proof of ownership and sale details.

Transfer Remaining Ownership Documents

In addition to the bill of sale, the following documents also need to change hands when selling a car privately:

  • Vehicle title signed over to buyer
  • Any service records or owner’s manuals for car
  • Two sets of keys for vehicle

The title is the most essential, as it legally shows change of ownership. Make sure to sign the title over to the new buyer during the sale. Putting their name on the title avoids disputes over legal ownership going forward.

Notify Your DMV

Finally, the buyer will need to notify their local DMV that they have purchased the car. This step officially updates the vehicle registration into the new owner’s name. Requirements vary by state but often include:

  • Filing a title transfer notification
  • Paying relevant sales taxes and title transfer fees
  • Completing a vehicle registration application
  • Possibly getting a vehicle inspection or VIN verification done

Check your local state’s DMV website for instructions on formally notifying them about the change in vehicle ownership after a private party sale.

Following these key steps when selling a car to another individual helps document the transaction, protect both parties, and ensure legal change of ownership. Be sure to retain copies of all documents like the bill of sale after the sale is complete.


For more information on creating a bill of sale when selling a car privately, check out these additional resources:

Selling a car yourself rather than trading it in can earn you more money, but requires good documentation like a bill of sale. Be sure to carefully put one together using a template and the guidance above when selling your car to an individual buyer.