Buying and selling cars require some paperwork to be done whether such transactions are made by dealers or regular folks. A motor vehicle bill of sale is among those papers you should be armed with when acting as a seller or a buyer since it is a mandatory document in plenty of states. And even if your state is an exception, having this paper on hand will prove useful for protecting you from fraud and false accusations.
Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale Explained
Actually, bills of sale work as a kind of sales contract. Yet, they are created to establish the fact of ownership transfer rather than just putting the deal’s conditions in writing as regular contracts do. The applicable scope of the bills goes far beyond transactions with vehicles, covering almost any type of movables, from jewelry and furniture to animals and aircraft. The paper identifies the seller and the buyer, describes the item sold, and specifies the price and other significant details of the transaction. If any warranty is provided, the bill also formalizes it, serving as a receipt in this case.
Deals with motor vehicles are among the most widespread applications of this paper. Many states include it in their lists of documents required to register a car with the local DMV. In this regard, vehicle bills of sale work to report the passing of property, based on which the authorities record a title transfer. So, though a vehicle bill of sale is not equivalent to a car title as to proving ownership over the car, it is accepted by the authorities to establish the proprietary right. Even if a car is not sold but traded or gifted, the document works fine for recording the transaction and registering the new owner.
Other Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale Applications
Obviously, what’s good for a DMV is good for other authorities. Even if you happen to live in a state where a motor vehicle bill of sale is not required, you can still avail of the document. It is acceptable as proof of ownership in courts should any disputes arise. This covers not only litigations over the ownership of a particular automobile. The paper is applicable to lawsuits connected with crimes that were committed with the use of the vehicle. In this vein, a properly designed bill of sale protects both the seller and the buyer by clarifying who is held liable for the car.
Moreover, any disputes between the parties can be settled without going to court thanks to all the deal details sliced and diced within the bill. For example, if the seller specifies that he or she transfers the car “as is,” the person won’t be responsible for any breakage revealed after the car is handed over to the new owner. On the other hand, if there is a certain warranty included in the document, the buyer has a nice chance to get a refund without taking legal action. Vehicle bills of sale can also resolve any other issues related to the transaction, such as payment terms or equipment provided with the car.
In fact, a motor vehicle bill of sale comes in handy in a range of situations when some kind of a title deed is needed. This covers loans, for example. If a person buys a car from another individual with borrowed funds, the lender might require the document as a security. Tax purposes are on the list as well since both the buyer and the seller can submit the bill to prove the deal price. So, registering a car with your local authorities is not the only application of the document, and it makes sense to have it even if it’s not mandatory.
Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale Across States
As it was mentioned, it’s quite tricky to summarize states’ requirements as to motor vehicle bills of sale since each of them sets their own rules. They vary in several aspects:
- Applicable scope. Some authorities list the document as obligatory, while others don’t require it unless in specific cases. In California, for example, a new owner will need a motor vehicle bill of sale if the name of the actual seller is not specified in the title. In Connecticut, the document is one of the mandatory options to prove ownership over both titled and non-titled automobiles. Texas provides only component parts and junk motor vehicle forms, while Washington has a corresponding template for all privately sold cars.
- Forms layout. Depending on your place of residence, you will be required to enter different information into a bill of sale form. Surely, some pieces are a must regardless of the state, such as names and addresses, but details vary greatly. In particular, Connecticut’s form includes a place for odometer readings, while those of Washington or New York don’t. There may be mandatory fields for a detailed vehicle description or dedicated checkboxes for gifted cars in various templates.
- Validity requirements. Usually, motor vehicle bills of sale are considered legally binding when signed by the seller and the buyer. However, some states, such as Montana or Maryland, impose stricter regulations and encourage notarization. On the other end of the spectrum, some authorities are quite happy when the bill is signed by the seller only.
Keep in mind that things are even more complicated than that, as the requirements vary across counties as well. With so many local differences attached to motor vehicle bills of sale, you may find it too time-consuming to draft the document. But trying to avoid dealing with them isn’t smart either, given all the merits described above. Actually, any potential buyer or seller can download a corresponding form in PDF from the official DMV site or get it in a nearby office of the Department.
Since it may be tricky to find the form on stuffed DMV sites, you can opt for our printable forms available free of charge and even without registration on the platform. Moreover, we have an online form builder to construct custom templates. It will be of great help if you want to use a motor vehicle bill of sale for other purposes and need to include some specific information in it.
Information To Insert Into a Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale
Though there is no uniform rule for all states, here is a list of information that is usually covered in vehicle bills of sale:
- Information on the parties involved in the transaction. It may include not only the seller and the buyer but also a witness or a public notary. The names, dates of birth, addresses, and signatures are commonly required.
- Description of the vehicle. You may need to specify its make, model, year, VIN, style, color, plate number, and odometer reading.
- Money. The price and payment method chosen by the parties should be recorded along with an installment plan if applicable.
- Other details. While the date of the transaction is obligatory information for any bill of sale, there may be the need to write in additional terms.