How To Write a Bill of Sale for a Car

What you should include in a bill of sale

A man and a woman review a document in a car dealership.

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A bill of sale documents the purchase of a piece of property and its transfer from a seller to a buyer. It’s often used in vehicle sale transactions and may be required by your state. 

Learn more about what’s included in a bill of sale, whether you need one to sell your car, and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A bill of sale for a car documents the purchase of a vehicle and typically includes the date, purchase price, vehicle details, and involved parties. 
  • Some states require a bill of sale for vehicle sales while others don’t.
  • A bill of sale can help to prove the price paid for the vehicle to the state for sales tax purposes. It can also protect the seller against liability after the transfer of property.
  • Regardless of state requirements, a bill of sale is a good protective step for buyers and sellers. 

What Is a Bill of Sale? 

A bill of sale is a document that provides proof of a sale and the transfer of property from one party to another. It can be used when selling a variety of items but is most commonly used for vehicle sale transactions

The bill of sale will identify the parties involved in the transaction, the property being transferred, and the date and price of the transaction. As a result, both parties will have proof of the sale. It can be important to show a release of liability on the part of the seller. 

For example, say a car was sold from one private party to another. However, the buyer did not properly register the vehicle and used the car to commit a crime. With a bill of sale, the seller could prove they were no longer in possession of the vehicle.

Who Needs a Bill of Sale for a Car?

It’s wise to create a bill of sale for all private vehicle sale transactions so there is a record showing both parties agreed on the terms. However, in some states, it’s required. Several states also require you to use a specific form and/or have the bill of sale notarized

Here’s a detailed look at the bill of sale requirements by state. 

State Requires Bill of Sale for Private Party Vehicle Purchase with Title Requires a Notarized Bill of Sale Requires Specific Bill of Sale Form State Provides Form
Alabama Yes No No Yes
Alaska No No No Yes
Arizona No No No Yes
Arkansas No No No Not found
California Yes No No Yes
Colorado Yes No No Yes
Connecticut Yes No No Yes
Delaware No No No Not found
Florida Yes No Yes Yes
Georgia Yes No Yes Yes
Hawaii No No No Not found
Idaho Yes No No Yes
Illinois No (But may be required on a case by case basis) No No Not found
Indiana No No No Yes
Iowa Yes No No Yes
Kansas No (unless the title doesn't have space for the purchase price) No Yes Yes
Kentucky No No No Not found
Louisiana No (unless a title has not been issued in the state for the vehicle before) Yes No Yes
Maine Yes No No Yes
Maryland Yes Yes (under some conditions) Yes Yes
Massachusetts No No No Not found
Michigan No No No Not found
Minnesota No No No Not found
Mississippi No (unless the title doesn't have space for the purchase price) No No Not found
Missouri Yes (Or a Notice of Sale) No Yes Yes
Montana No No No Yes
Nebraska Yes (or the DoR Form 6) Not specified No Yes
Nevada Yes No Yes Yes
New Hampshire No (except for title exempt vehicles) No No Not found
New Jersey Yes No No Not found
New Mexico No (Unless Assignment of Title is not on the back of the Title) No Yes Yes
New York Yes No No Yes
North Carolina No No No Not found
North Dakota No No No Yes
Ohio No No No Not found
Oklahoma No No No Not found
Oregon No (But you can sign either the title or a bill of sale) No No Yes
Pennsylvania No No No Not found
Rhode Island Yes No No Not found
South Carolina No (Unless the purchase price and odometer reading are not on the title) No No Not found
South Dakota No No No Yes
Tennessee No No No Not found
Texas No No No Not found
Utah No No No Yes
Vermont Yes No No Yes
Virginia Yes No No Yes
Washington Yes No No Yes
West Virginia Yes (If the sale price is less than 50% of the NADA Clean Book loan value) Yes Yes Yes
Wisconsin No No No Yes
Wyoming Yes Yes Not specified Yes

How To Write a Bill of Sale for a Car

While many states provide bill of sale forms, your state may also allow you to write one yourself. However, it will need specific information that often includes:

  • Date the vehicle was sold
  • Selling price of the vehicle
  • Vehicle’s make, year, model, odometer reading, and vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Name, address, and signature of the buyer
  • Name, address, and signature of the seller

Be sure to check your state’s laws to find out if a bill of sale is required, if it can be written, and what must be included. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you fill out a title when selling a car?

Filling out the title when selling your car will vary slightly from state to state. It typically requires completing a few fields like the selling date, selling price, odometer reading, seller’s and buyer’s names. Signatures are often required to release seller interest in the vehicle, transfer ownership to the buyer, and certify that all the information provided was true and correct.

Who pays sales tax when you’re selling a car privately?

When you sell a car privately, the buyer will pay any applicable sales tax to the state’s driving authority when they register and title the vehicle. States often give buyers a set period to register the vehicle and pay the tax.

Article Sources

  1. Cornell Law School. "Bill of Sale."