A California vehicle bill of sale (Form REG 135) is a document that represents proof of title transfer of a motor vehicle. It is used in a transaction between a seller and a buyer when the buyer pays an agreed-upon price for the seller’s vehicle.
Only the seller must sign the bill of sale in California, not the buyer. If the seller’s name does not appear on the title, the Bill of Sale must contain the signatures of the seller and the person whose name is on the title.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires a Statement of Facts (Form REG 256) to identify certain aspects and the condition of the vehicle, including the odometer reading.
California vehicle owners must register their vehicles with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. A buyer must register with the California DMV within ten days of purchasing a new or used vehicle. If an individual is a new California resident, they have 20 days after establishing their California residency to register their vehicle at the DMV.
Registrations must be renewed once a year.
Where to Register Your Vehicle
California residents must register their vehicles in person at a California DMV office or by mail sending their documents to the DMV.
Registration renewals can be done either in person at a California DMV or by requesting registration renewal on the California DMV’s website.
Documents Required by the DMV Office
The documents are required when you register your vehicle:
- Application for Title or Registration (Form REG 343)
- Bill of Sale (Form REG 135)
- California driver’s license
- Proof of vehicle insurance, keeping in mind the state’s minimum requirements
- $15,000 for injury/death of one person
- $30,000 for injury/death of more than one person
- $5,000 for damage to property
- Registration fees
- Signed certificate of title
- Statement of Facts (Form REG 256)
- Smog and emissions inspection conducted by an accredited station
Note that if someone else represents you, you must give them power of attorney.
A seller has five days after a sale to submit a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (Form REG 138).
While California law does not require a bill of sale for a car, having one is still a good idea. 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.
A penalty of perjury statement is not necessary for California. However, California Vehicle Code Section 20 (CA Veh Code § 20 (2021)) considers supplying the DMV with false information a crime. Doing so may be treated in the courts of California law as a violation 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.
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, 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 receive either a junk receipt or a 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.”
Why use a vehicle bill of sale in California?
As a buyer, drafting a proper bill of sale can act as proof of purchase or a receipt.
It can also help the California DMV determine the appropriate Vehicle License Fee (VLF) 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.
After Purchasing a Vehicle
Besides drafting a bill of sale, there are many other steps to take when buying or selling a vehicle in California.
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. Ensure the current registration stickers are still affixed to validate your current plates. 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:
- Register your vehicle at your local DMV office within ten days of purchase.
- Bring your odometer reading, if applicable.
- Bring a smog certificate, if applicable.
- All fees and taxes must be paid in full.
California Vehicle Bill of Sale Sample
Download and create your own free California vehicle bill of sale.