A Vehicle Bill of Sale is a legal document that records the sale of a car, motorcycle, or other vehicle between a seller and a buyer. In exchange for a certain amount of money, the seller agrees to transfer ownership of the vehicle to the buyer.
A Bill of Sale is an official record that a car was sold on a specific date for a certain price.
Vehicle Bill of Sale Forms – By 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 Vehicle Bill of Sale?
A Vehicle Bill of Sale is a legal document that transfers motor vehicle ownership from one person to another. It proves that a deal took place. Registering a vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is required.
It is commonly used for a car and can be referred to by other names:
- Car Bill of Sale
- Automobile Bill of Sale
- Auto Bill of Sale
- Auto Purchase Agreement
- Car Contract
- Car Purchase Agreement
- Vehicle Purchase Agreement
- DMV Bill of Sale
- Car Sale Receipt
What Should Be Included in a Vehicle Bill of Sale?
For a Vehicle Bill of Sale to be valid, you must ensure that it has the following parts:
Details of the parties involved in the sale – It should include the following:
- The date of the sale
The vehicle description – Remember to keep the report relevant to the sale. For example, if the vehicle is a car, you should mention:
- Make and model
- VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
- License plate number
- The vehicle’s selling price – You should also state the reduced price if the vehicle is a partial gift. If the vehicle is a gift, you should note this in the bill of sale.
- Warranty Information – If the vehicle has a warranty, mention this in the bill of sale.
What’s the Difference Between a Vehicle Bill of Sale and a Title?
After purchasing a vehicle, there are two primary documents you need to have in your possession: the vehicle bill of sale and the title. These documents are similar, but both are important in the sales process.
A Vehicle Bill of Sale proves a seller and buyer transfer occurred. It would have details of the sale and the vehicle, such as the date, the name of the seller and buyer, the type and color of the vehicle, the selling amount, and the VIN number. The seller is responsible for creating the bill of sale, and most states require a bill of sale to register the vehicle.
Obtaining the title is the last step in the sales process. A title could be considered a complementary document to the bill of sale because you can’t get it without one. But once you have the document, you will legally own the vehicle.
Once the buyer signs the document and the relevant government authority processes it, they will have legal proof of ownership. The title transfer will free the seller from the liabilities of the vehicle.
Until the title change has been processed, the seller will still be responsible for vehicle liabilities such as prior parking or speeding tickets. Also, creditors could seize the vehicle as an asset to fulfill the seller’s financial obligations. So a buyer should try to complete the title transfer as soon as possible.
Why Do I Need a Vehicle Bill of Sale?
When buying or selling a vehicle privately, you need a bill of sale to prove that the seller transferred the vehicle to its new owner. The document works much like a receipt and is typically required for the following:
- Tax purposes
- Vehicle Insurance
- DMV registration
A vehicle bill of sale protects the buyer and seller from future disagreements over the vehicle’s condition or ownership. Because the document describes the vehicle’s exact condition at the time of sale, the buyer cannot later dispute any damage and demand a refund.
If the vehicle’s buyer is involved in an accident or gets a speeding ticket, the seller can use the bill of sale to show that the vehicle is no longer theirs and they are not liable.
Do you need a bill of sale to register a car?
You don’t need a bill of sale to register a car. However, this depends on the state. For example, you can register a car with a title in Arkansas if it has all the required information. But it’s recommended to get a bill of sale regardless of what state you’re in.
You should check your state’s DMV website to find out the requirements for vehicle registration.
While you can use a bill of sale for any land vehicle, it is often used when someone wants to sell a car. Here’s the paperwork you need to make the sale of a car a smooth process and fully compliant with state laws.
Bill of Sale
The bill of sale is evidence that a transfer of ownership occurred between parties. This document sometimes isn’t required if you’re living in certain states. But here’s a list of states that do require a bill of sale to prove ownership  :
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Even if a bill of sale isn’t a requirement in your state, having the document for your records is always recommended.
Usually, notarization by an official legal representative isn’t a requirement for your bill of sale to be valid. However, a vehicle bill of sale needs to be notarized in Louisiana, Nebraska, Maryland, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Montana. 
No matter what your state requirements are, getting your bill of sale notarized anyway can be helpful, as it provides proof that the seller transferred ownership of the vehicle to you.
If you’re the vehicle seller, ensure you have dealt with all obligations and liabilities attached to the vehicle before selling it. This includes paying off any outstanding liens or debts or notifying the buyer before the sale. This document certifies legal ownership of the vehicle, so it’s essential to have this in your possession after the sale. If you have lost the title, you can apply for a duplicate at your local DMV.
Notice Of Transfer/Release of Liability
A notice of transfer is a document you provide for the DMV to officially state that you are no longer the vehicle owner. You can also request and fill in a Release of Liability form. While you can achieve a transfer of ownership with a title, a seller will still have to wait for the buyer to sign the document.
You can protect yourself from future liabilities as a seller by notifying the DMV about the sale. You don’t need to inform them, but it’s good practice to do so anyway.
When selling a vehicle, you should always include documentation about its maintenance history. This is especially important if you have told the buyer the vehicle is in good condition. Proof of this is a positive indicator to the buyer and increases their confidence in the sale.
The owner’s manual isn’t a legal requirement in a sale, but it’s helpful for the buyer if they ever have issues with the car. If you lost the manual, resources online allow you to get it in PDF format. 
You should always provide the warranty documentation in a car sale. It should include the date the original owner purchased the car, the remaining warranty period, and the contact information of the warranty provider.
Buying a Car ‘As Is’
When you buy a car, you will probably encounter the term “as is” in the description. The term refers to the vehicle’s warranty status, meaning the car does not have a warranty. This is especially the case if it’s a private party sale.
Once the sale has been made, any issues the buyer discovers will no longer be the seller’s responsibility. For example, suppose the car breaks down shortly after the buyer purchases the vehicle. In that case, they will have to pay for repairs themselves.
Most private sellers sell cars “as is” and the bill of sale would serve as a car sold “as is” contract. If this isn’t clear in the description, you should ask the seller about the car’s status to ensure you know what you’re getting into.
What Is a Private Party Sale of a Car?
A private party sale is when a buyer purchases a car from an individual instead of a dealer. These sales are typically made with cash and can have some benefits compared to going to a dealership. Private-party sales tend to be cheaper and have no dealer fees. However, they are much less regulated than dealerships, which can be a drawback.
If you’re interested in a private party sale, have all the paperwork for buying a used car from a private seller.
Most states don’t require private sellers to ensure the vehicle will pass an inspection, so make sure you have it checked by an independent party before purchasing a vehicle.
How to Use a Vehicle Bill of Sale
If you want to know how to get a bill of sale in the buying and selling a car, follow these step-by-step instructions for a smooth transaction and ensure the document is legally valid.
Step 1 – Negotiate the Terms of the Sale
To enter the agreement, both parties need to decide on a payment method and any conditions of the sale, such as a warranty or financing. If a warranty is not included, the vehicle is sold “as-is,” with the buyer accepting any faults or damage at the time of sale.
Step 2 – Write down the details of both parties
The buyer and seller must fill out their contact information on the vehicle bill of sale – their names and addresses. The contract should also mention the selling price of the vehicle.
- An example of where to include details of the parties involved in the template
Step 3 – Fill out the vehicle details
In addition, you must fill in the following sections, which can vary by state:
- Body style
- Vehicle condition
- Whether sales tax is included
- Warranty information (if applicable)
- Payment type
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Odometer disclosure statement
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): The VIN is a unique 17-character code used to track the vehicle’s registration and whether it was stolen or involved in an accident. You can find your car’s VIN on the windshield or inside the driver’s side door. It’s also written on the vehicle’s certificate of title.
Odometer disclosure statement: Federal law requires that a vehicle’s mileage (measured by the vehicle’s odometer) is provided and verified by the seller when the vehicle is transferred or sold  .
After filling out the mileage, the seller states whether the mileage is accurate or if the odometer causes a discrepancy. This statement can be part of the vehicle bill of sale or submitted as an additional document in some states.
- An example of where to include vehicle information in the template
Step 4 – Gather Related Documents
Before the sale is finalized, you need to ensure you have all the car sale paperwork. The seller should provide the certificate of title (the “pink slip”) to the buyer. If the seller doesn’t have the certificate of title, the buyer can request a new one from the DMV. This usually takes 10–14 working days and costs around $20 (depending on the state and vehicle).
It’s also recommended that the buyer obtain a copy of the seller’s photo ID to check that their information is the same across all documents and can legally sell the vehicle.
Step 5 – Sign the document to complete the sale
To complete the sale, both parties sign and date the vehicle bill of sale and keep a copy for their records.
Finally, the seller gives possession of the vehicle in exchange for the payment and transfers the certificate of title.
- An example of where to include signatures in the template
State DMV Locations and Bill of Sale Forms
Vehicle Bill of Sale – Sample
Download an example fillable vehicle bill of sale below as either a PDF or Docx: