Create a bill of sale to legally sell your vehicle. If you’re selling a car to a private party, you may be required to complete and sign this legal document. Learn more about bills of sale, the dangers of not signing one, and how a bill of sale template can help you complete this legal process.

What Is a Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale is a document that confirms a sale agreement. It’s a legally binding document that shows you’ve transferred ownership and the new owner is responsible for the vehicle. When you sell a car privately, a bill of sale may be the only document you retain that proves you’ve transferred possession to a new owner.

While the specifics of a bill of sale can vary, here are some key features that yours should include as a proof of purchase:

  • Vehicle information, like make, model, and year of manufacture
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Current odometer reading
  • Buyer’s signature and name
  • Seller’s signature and name
  • Buyer’s address, city, state, and zip code
  • Date of sale
  • Purchase price
  • Notarization, if required by your state

There are other items that you could put on the bill of sale for added clarity. For example, some sellers include a more detailed description of the vehicle to avoid any confusion or disagreement about its current condition. Some also include the payment method and their own mailing address if the buyer needs to ask any questions or forward any information.

Other sellers choose to include more specific information about a warranty, or lack of warranty, and any financing included in the sale. Consider having your document notarized by a notary public to verify the buyer’s name and signature.

Think of these documents as official receipts for the private transaction. Signing the title is a legal requirement to transfer ownership, but you can’t refer to a signed title after you give the certificate of title to the new owner.

It’s also a way to confirm that you’re selling the vehicle “as is.” This means you aren’t giving the buyer any warranty of the condition. In the event that the vehicle has a major breakdown or some other unforeseen issue, a bill of sale helps protect you from being liable for the damages.

Be sure you verify the make, model, and other information on the bill of sale, as well as the odometer disclosure statement. Failure to do so could result in the penalty of perjury and jeopardize the sale agreement.

Auto Bill of Sale paper with a pen on it.

When a Bill of Sale Is Required

Some states require a bill of sale for any valid sale of a vehicle to a private party. Verify any state requirements with your local Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV. Some DMVs also require any bill of sale to be notarized.

Laws may change in your state, so be sure you’ve reviewed the latest laws. An online listing service can help you determine which documents are necessary for your location. This takes the stress out of contacting your local DMV and reviewing any recent changes to state or county laws.

Benefits of a Bill of Sale Form

This document can still be beneficial even if you don’t live in a state that requires it. You can enjoy greater legal protection and convenient registration when you use a bill of sale form. It also can give you peace of mind, knowing that you’re clearly selling the vehicle in its current condition and not offering any warranties.

Where can you find a bill of sale? While you can create your own document or hire a lawyer to draft one for you, a bill of sale template is a convenient alternative. Use a bill of sale form for a free alternative that’s already set up for your state.

Dangers of Not Signing a Bill of Sale

Failure to sign this legal document may cause significant issues for you and the new owner of your vehicle. Whether you’re selling on Craigslist or selling to a family member, not signing a bill of sale could result in a number of issues. Don’t wait until after the sale is over to discover you need to meet the buyer again to fill out a bill of sale for legal title transfer in your state.

First, this legal document helps the new owner confirm the current state of the vehicle. You’ll be less likely to have any disagreements about the condition of the vehicle, its odometer reading, or other features of the sale when you have a signed bill of sale.

It helps the owner quickly fill out a registration form since most of the required information for vehicle registration is right on this document. This saves them time and helps them avoid stress as they head to a local DMV to have the vehicle title transferred and registered.

Second, a bill of sale helps you legally sell your personal property in many states. States that require this document may also have fines or restrictions if you attempt to sell a vehicle without the proper paperwork.

Finally, failure to sign a bill of sale can result in you or your insurance provider being at risk for any accidents, parking tickets, or other issues that the new owner is involved in. If you sell a car and the buyer doesn’t transfer the title and register the vehicle, then your registration is the only one on file for the vehicle. You’ll have to dispute any ticket or lawsuit and there isn’t a guarantee you’ll win.

Black car in car accident in the middle of a main road.

Why Use an Electronic Bill of Sale Template?

Now that you know the importance of a bill of sale, it’s time to find out why you should sign one electronically. Printing out a paper document and obtaining a signature from the buyer is a time-consuming process. You’ll also need to spend your time finding the right form and filling in the relevant information. An electronic bill of sale can be immediately shared with a buyer, who can then e-sign the document.

Choose a leading listing service that connects you with state-specific, updated bill of sale forms. This takes the stress out of filling out the form yourself and passing it on to the buyer. Simply enter the relevant information about your vehicle in your listing and prepare to e-sign your electronic bill of sale.

Sign Your Documents Electronically With PrivateAuto

PrivateAuto offers an electronic bill of sale template for simple signing and legal transactions. See how it works today as you prepare to list your vehicle or wrap up a private sale the right way.