California bill of sale forms are used to record the official sale of any personal item, such as a vehicle, boat/vessel, or firearm. A completed and signed bill of sale is legal proof that ownership of the documented item has been transferred to the buyer, and that the seller has been paid the agreed upon amount. In California, a bill of sale does not need to be notarized or witnessed, so it’s a good idea to get a photocopy of the buyer or seller’s ID to ensure the personal information on the bill of sale is accurate.
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1. California Vehicle Bill of Sale
While California law does not require a bill of sale for a car, it is still a good idea to have one. You can use it to record pertinent details of the sale, such as the other parties’ contact information, the purchase date, and the sale price.
The state’s official DMV website provides a convenient, easy-to-use form. In order to be considered official, it asks for the following information:
- The seller’s name, address, and signature
- The buyer’s name and address
- The make, model, and year of the vehicle in question
- The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- The price paid by the buyer(s)
- The date the vehicle was sold or gifted
Because the bill of sale is not necessarily a legal requirement, however, you can draft your own. Be sure to include all the information listed on the online form.
While a penalty of perjury statement is not necessary in California, California Vehicle Code Section 20 states that supplying the DMV with any false information is a crime. Doing so may be treated in the courts of California law as violations of already established perjury laws, and may be punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 or up to a four-year stint in state prison.
Why Use One?
As a buyer, drafting a proper bill of sale can act as a proof of purchase, or a receipt. It can also help the California DMV determine the appropriate Vehicle License Fee (VLF), which is based on a vehicle sale price. Without official documentation, your VLF is based upon the vehicle’s approximate value, though you may legally only have to pay a percentage based on what you actually paid for the car.
Since California is a multicultural state, the bill of sale can be written in Spanish or any other language. The DMV provides translators as needed.
Number of Copies
Two identical copies should be filled out, with one given to the buyer and the other to the seller. Be sure to fill out the form in its entirety.
Once a former wreck is repurposed and sold, a buyer must be provided with either a junk receipt or bill of sale containing the dismantler’s acquisition number. The junk receipt is nothing more than an ownership-proving document issued by the DMV when a given vehicle is requested to be listed in the state registry as “junked.”
After Purchasing a Vehicle
Besides drafting a bill of sale, there are many other steps to take when buying or selling a vehicle in the state of California.
- Smog Certificate: Sellers must provide buyers with a smog certificate if the vehicle registration has not been renewed within the last 90 days, and the car is over four years old. In all cases, a signed affidavit will suffice.
- Odometer Reading: If the car is less than 10 years old, an odometer reading is required. If you are unable to record this information on the title, a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment, or Form REG 262, should be filed.
- Notice of Transfer: After all paperwork has been provided to the buyer, a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability must be filed with the California DMV within five days of the sale, alerting the state that you are no longer legally responsible for the vehicle.
A duplicate title is not required to sell a vehicle in California, as long as all applicable sections of Form REG 227, or the Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title, are completed. The buyer will then fill out the relevant section as the new owner, completing the sale.
- Fill out a copy of Form REG 343, the Application for Title or Registration, which must be filed with the DMV. Be sure to include the names of all lienholders, if applicable, and your signature(s).
- Provide proof that the vehicle in question is insured.
- Bring in your license plates. Be sure that the current registration stickers are still affixed to validate that your plates are current. The owner of a vehicle is not typically required to surrender a vehicle’s plates, and they can be obtained along with the vehicle at the time of purchase.
- A physical inspection must be performed by a California DMV employee, as well as VIN verification.
If you purchase your vehicle from a state-licensed dealer:
- You will be issued a temporary registration and license plate from the dealer.
If you purchase your vehicle from a private party:
- You must register your vehicle at your local DMV office within 10 days of purchase.
- Bring your odometer reading, if applicable.
- Bring a smog certificate, if applicable.
- All fees and taxes must be paid in full.
3. California Boat Bill of Sale
There are a few steps you must take to register a vessel properly in California after you are presented with your boat bill of sale.
- Be sure that all personal property taxes are paid in full to the county tax collector, or the DMV will withhold the title transfer. The county is determined by where the vessel is stored.
- Provide the California Certificate of Ownership, or title, to the buyer. Sign the space marked as Line 1.
- If the title is lost or damaged, use Form REG 227, and sign it, authorizing the sale.
- If the Certificate of Number or sticker is lost, fill out an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, or Documents, or Form REG 156. A duplicate fee is required to replace each lost item.
- Submit a Notice of Release of Liability, or Form REG 138, within 5 days, to the DMV stating the buyer’s name and contact information, along with information about the vessel, and the purchase date.
- Fill out your name and contact information and sign the back of the title.
- Submit the title to the DMV. Pay the transfer fees and use tax, if applicable.
Like vehicle bills of sale in California, vessel bills of sale are also optional, unless the seller is not the last owner listed on the title. In that case, you will need a bill of sale from each of the buyers that owned the vessel after the listed owner. As previously stated, the state does provide a form on the DMV website. This bill of sale form, Form REG 135, can be used for vessels as well as vehicles, or in its place, you may draft your own. All forms are to be completed by the seller and should contain the following information:
- The sellers’ and buyers’ names, contact information, and signatures
- The parties’ California drivers’ license, ID, or dealer numbers
- The hull identification number, or HIN
- The year, make, and model
- The date of the sale
- The purchase price
- The CF or vessel registration number
4. California Gun Bill of Sale
In California, a firearm bill of sale is not a legal necessity when selling or buying vehicles. As a matter of fact, permits and registration are not required for firearms, rifles, or shotguns, though assault weapons are a notable exception. However, even private party sales are still subject to the Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) process, and must be completed through a licensed California dealer. This process includes providing proof that the buyer is over 21 years of age, and undergoing a 10-day waiting period.
For your own records, you may provide a gun bill of sale. Generally speaking, a firearm bill of sale should include the following:
- The buyers’ and sellers’ names, contact information, and signatures
- The make, model, caliper, and serial number
- The purchase price