A bill of sale is a legal document used to transfer ownership of an item from one person to another. These forms are similar to retail receipts but are used to record the sale or transfer of valuable things like cars.
This document protects the buyer and the seller from future legal disputes over the item’s condition or ownership. Most states require a completed vehicle bill of sale to register a motor vehicle at the DMV, and many recommend using a Bill of Sale if you are buying or selling any item over $500.
Find your printable template by type and state below.
Bill of Sale Forms (By Type and State)
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What Is a Bill of Sale?
A bill of sale is a document that details a sales transaction or transfer of ownership between two parties. Once signed, both the buyer and the seller should keep a copy of the bill of sale to prove that the transaction occurred.
Not all states or counties require a bill of sale, but it is generally recommended to sign one to add an extra layer of protection in case of future disputes. If the asset is transferred as a gift, this can be recorded on the bill of sale, and the purchase price can be set to $0. Depending on your state, you may also need to file an Affidavit of Motor Vehicle Gift Transfer or similar document.
For a vehicle purchase, buyers should keep an original copy of the document for registration. In some states, you may need to add an odometer disclosure statement or a separate form on the bill of sale.
When Should I Use a Bill of Sale?
You should use a bill of sale when transferring any valuable item to a new owner. Many states require you to provide a signed sale statement as proof of purchase when registering certain items.
You can use it to transfer ownership of items such as the following:
- Vehicles (cars, RVs, motorcycles, trailers, campers)
- Watercraft (boats, jet skis)
- Personal property (bicycles, furniture, jewelry)
- Animals (horses, dogs, cats, livestock)
- Equipment (tools, exercise equipment)
What happens if I don’t use a Bill of Sale?
If you don’t use a bill of sale, you could encounter legal issues after selling an item. Bills of sale are essential to prove a cash sale took place, and they protect both the buyer and seller in case of a dispute.
For example, you cannot legally prove that an item was sold without a bill of sale to record the transaction. Therefore, the seller may still be responsible for violations the purchaser commits after transferring the item (such as speeding tickets in the case of a vehicle).
Bill of Sale Sample
The following template is a generic bill of sale that you can use to transfer ownership of any personal property.
How to Write a Bill of Sale Form
Buyers and sellers can follow the simple steps below to fill out their blank bill of sale form and record the transfer or sale of a vehicle or any other item.
The seller typically provides the document, but you may wish to bring your form if you’re the buyer. Remember to check individual state requirements before creating your form, as some states have different requirements for specific items, especially regarding cars.
Complete the bill of sale fully and accurately describe the transferred or sold item. If the seller withholds any information about the item, the form may be null and void (not legally valid).
Both parties should keep a copy of the signed document for their records.
Step 1 – Negotiate the Terms of the Sale
Before filling out a bill of sale, the buyer and seller should confirm the item’s condition and agree to its sale.
At this stage, both parties agree on a payment method and any special conditions of the sale, such as a warranty or financing. If the buyer chooses to pay in cash, the amount must be paid in full at the time of the sale. Financing is commonly handled separately through a bank.
When a bill of sale includes a warranty, it must clearly explain what damage and repairs the guarantee covers and for how long. If the document does not have a warranty, the item is sold “as-is.” Therefore, the buyer must check the item thoroughly and ask any questions before the sale is completed and the form is signed.
Step 2 – Fill Out the Bill of Sale With the Required Information
Once the terms of the sale have been agreed upon, the buyer and seller should complete the bill of sale form. Be careful as you fill it out, as both parties’ handwriting must be legible for the form to be valid.
A bill of sale includes the following sections that you must complete:
Seller and Buyer Information
The seller and buyer must write their contact details, including their full name, street address, city, state, zip code, telephone number, and email address.
Item Information and Purchase Price
This section will differ depending on the item you are buying or selling, but you’ll always need to write the purchase price and describe the item’s condition. Noting any faults or damage in detail will help you avoid disputes later.
If you are completing a vehicle bill of sale, you’ll need to fill out the following information:
- Body style
Other items have different sections. For example, boats require manufacturer, vessel type, and size. Horses need breed, sex, and the name of the sire.
Step 3 – Complete the Sale
Once you’ve filled out all the information, both parties must check the form and sign and date it. Most states don’t require you to notarize your bill of sale to make it valid.
To complete the sale, the seller collects payment and hands over the certificate of title (if applicable). If you’ve bought a vehicle, you must register it at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and pay sales tax.
Whether you’re buying or selling a vehicle or any other item, knowing the following legal terms is important to fill out your form correctly.
- Buyer — The person who is purchasing the item. Also known as the purchaser.
- Seller — The person (or party) that is selling the item.
- As-is — “As-is” means that the item is sold in its current condition at the time of sale and that the buyer accepts any present faults.
- Warranty Provision — A written guarantee that the seller will repair or replace the item if there are any defects over a specified period. If you don’t include a warranty provision, the item is sold “as-is.”
- Certificate of Title — Separate paperwork that states an item’s legal owner. If applicable, this should be transferred when completing the sale. Note that the document proves the transaction occurred, but it’s not always proof of ownership.
- Sales Tax — A tax included in the price of the sale of goods. This tax varies by state, county, or municipality.
- Notarization — A process that authenticates a legal document and the parties’ signatures. Not all states require a bill of sale to be notarized.
- Notary Public — A state-appointed representative who notarizes documents.
- Promissory Note — A promissory note is a document that promises someone will pay an amount of money. You should include one if the transfer requires the buyer to take out a loan instead of paying in full.
- Odometer Reading — A section of an auto bill of sale where you record the vehicle’s mileage at the time of purchase.
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) — A unique identification code for a motor vehicle that you must include in a car bill of sale.
DMV Offices in Each State
Bill of Sale Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Bill of Sale legally binding?
Yes, a bill of sale is a legally binding contract between a seller and a buyer.
The document is evidence of an agreement between the two parties that a sale has occurred between them. Some sales agreements can also be a promise that a sale will occur in the future.
Does a Bill of Sale need notarized?
Yes, certain types of bills of sale need to be notarized.
For example, it is a requirement that a vehicle bill of sale is notarized in some states. But even if it’s not a legal requirement in your state, getting your document notarized is advised, as it provides legal protections you may need in the future.
Can you get a title with a Bill of Sale?
Yes, in some states, you may be able to get a title to the property you purchased with a Bill of Sale.
Although this mostly happens when buying a vehicle. For some types of property, such as real estate, you will need more legal documents to own the property, such as a title transfer fully.
What’s the difference between a sales agreement and a bill of sale?
A sales agreement and a bill of sale are both used to transfer ownership, but they are not the same. A sales agreement is used before the goods are exchanged, while a bill of sale is used during or after the transaction. In this sense, a sales agreement outlines the terms of the purchase, and the bill of sales acts as a receipt to record that the purchase took place.
Is a bill of sale the same as a title?
A bill of sale is not the same as a title, but these documents are complementary. Buyers can use the bill of sale to obtain a title.
If the former certifies the transfer of ownership, the latter identifies the purchaser as the vehicle’s legal owner.
Do I need a bill of sale if I have the title?
This depends on the state requirements for registering a vehicle. In most states, a bill of sale is required because it outlines the sales tax, selling price, and other fees that must be collected for registration purposes.
Who keeps the bill of sale?
Both buyer and seller should keep a copy of the bill of sale as proof that the transaction took place.
In most cases, the buyer keeps the original document to obtain a title and register the vehicle, and the seller keeps the copy.