autohitch logo
What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My Car Privately

What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My Car Privately

Paperwork Needed to Sell Your Car Privately

Selling a car privately can be a bit more involved than trading it in at a dealership, but it also allows you to get a better price.

However, if you don’t have all the right documents prepared you’ll wish you had gone to the dealer.

Below is a list of the paperwork you’ll need to sell your car privately, plus a few you don’t need by should have:

What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My Car Privately
Vehicle Title/Certificate of Title
Bill of Sale
Odometer Disclosure Statement
Vehicle History Report
Maintenance and Repair Records
Emissions/Safety Inspection Documents
Release of Liability/Notice of Transfer
As-Is Document
Owner’s Manual and Warranty Documents
Payment Requirements
What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My Car Privately

Related Articles To Read:

1. Vehicle Title/Certificate of Title

The vehicle title, also called the certificate of title, is the most important document on the list and serves as legal proof of ownership for the car.

When you sell the car, you’ll need to sign over the title to the buyer, effectively transferring ownership.

If you don’t have The Title

Outstanding Loan

If you still have an outstanding loan on the vehicle, then you almost certainly don’t have the title. You’ll need to get the lien released from the lender, who will then provide you with what is called a lien release. The lien release is what you will use to get a new title in your name at the DMV

Electronic Title

If you have an electronic title you will have to check your states DMV website for the exact process in your state to order a paper title. Typically, like here in Florida, the process can be handled online for a small fee and you will get a title in the mail in about 7-14 business days.

2. Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is essentially the receipt, but it serves as the legal document that records the details of the transaction, such as:

  • Purchase price
  • Vehicle information (make, model, year, VIN)
  • Buyer and seller details (names, addresses)
  • Date of sale

While not all states require a bill of sale for private car sales, I highly recommend you have one because until the buyer can get a new title, it serves as proof the car was sold, which can come in handy should the buyer be pulled over by police before getting the opportunity to get the car registered in their name.

3. Odometer Disclosure Statement

Federal law requires sellers to disclose the vehicle’s odometer reading at the time of sale.

Some states allow you to write the odometer reading directly on the title, while others require a separate odometer disclosure statement form.

Providing an accurate odometer reading is important because falsifying the information can lead to legal consequences.

Related Article To Read: What Does Exempt Mean on a Car Title

4. Vehicle History Report

Although not legally required, providing a vehicle history report (such as Carfax or AutoCheck) can go a long way in building trust with potential buyers. These reports provide details on the vehicle’s past ownership, accidents, repairs, and maintenance history (At least what has been reported).

Buyers appreciate the transparency, and having a clean vehicle history report can help justify a higher asking price.

5. Maintenance and Repair Records

Keeping detailed records of all maintenance and repairs performed on your vehicle can also be beneficial when selling it privately.

These records serve as proof you maintained the car properly, which gives buyers confidence in the vehicle’s condition.

And again, having these records can help you negotiate a higher price, as buyers will see the value in a well-cared-for vehicle.

6. Emissions/Safety Inspection Documents

Depending on your state’s regulations, you may need to provide proof that the vehicle has passed an emissions or safety inspection before selling it. These documents are typically valid for a certain period, so make sure they are up-to-date at the time of sale.

States that Require Emissions Testing

  • Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson metro areas only)
  • California
  • Colorado (for certain counties)
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia (Atlanta metro area)
  • Idaho (Boise area)
  • Illinois (Chicago area)
  • Indiana (Indianapolis area)
  • Louisiana (Baton Rouge area)
  • Maryland (13 counties)
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri (St. Louis area)
  • Nevada (Clark and Washoe counties)
  • New Hampshire (for vehicles under 20 years old)
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico (Bernalillo County)
  • New York
  • North Carolina (22 counties)
  • Ohio (Cleveland area)
  • Oregon (Portland and Medford areas)
  • Pennsylvania (25 counties)
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee (6 counties)
  • Texas (major metro areas)
  • Utah (4 counties)
  • Virginia (Northern Virginia)
  • Washington (Central Puget Sound area)
  • Wisconsin (Southeast region)

States Requiring Periodic Safety Inspections:

  • Connecticut (commercial vehicles only)
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia (publicly owned vehicles only)
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey (new cars exempt for first 5 years)
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Utah (ending in 2018)
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Some states like Alabama, Maryland, and Nebraska only require inspections when first registering an out-of-state vehicle or for certain situations like vehicle sales.

7. Release of Liability/Notice of Transfer

After selling your car, you should notify your state’s motor vehicle department that you are no longer the owner.

This is to protect you from a buyer who doesn’t register the vehicle on time or who tries to sell the car through a scam such as Title Jumping.

Most states offer some sort of release of liability or notice of transfer form that (as it says) releases you from any future liability related to the vehicle.

8. As-Is Document

An as-is document states that you are selling the vehicle in its current condition with no warranties or guarantees, either stated or implied.

Having this document protects you from the buyer claiming down the road that you made some sort of promises or claims about the car you never did.

No states seem to require this, but this was mandatory with every sale at my dealership and should be for your private sale as well!

You can find an as-is no warranty form in the following article: As Is No Warranty- What You Need To Know

9. Owner’s Manual and Warranty Documents

If you still have the original owner’s manual and any remaining warranty documents for the vehicle, it’s a good idea to provide these to the buyer, as it will help you get your asking price.

Although literally no one reads them anymore, not having a manual does lower the value of a car, and people will use it to beat you up on the price. Trust me!

10. Payment Requirements

Before meeting with potential buyers, it’s wise to have a clear understanding of the payment methods you’re willing to accept AHEAD OF TIME.

The most commonly used forms of payment in private car sales are:

  • Cash
  • Certified check or cashier’s check
  • Online payment services (e.g., PayPal, Venmo)

Stating your payment requirements upfront avoids any misunderstandings or delays after you have agreed on a deal.

Final Thoughts

There are a few documents required by law in order to sell a car privately and a few more that aren’t required but which I highly recommend. When it comes to selling a car, having too much information is a good thing, as it will save you from delays, fraud, and get you more money on the sale price.

Sources For This Article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


Share on.

Table of Contents