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While a bill of sale is not a legal requirement in California, it's a good idea to have one when you sell or purchase a vehicle. There is no specific form required, but the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has a bill of sale form.
If you want to make your own bill of sale document, you'll typically want to include the following information:
- Date of vehicle sale.
- The seller's full name and address.
- The buyer's full name and address.
- Purchase amount.
- The vehicle's year, make and model.
- The vehicle identification number (VIN).
- The mileage on the vehicle's odometer.
- Vehicle warranty information, if applicable.
- Signatures of both the buyer and the seller.
After both parties sign the bill of sale, make a copy or take a picture of it. The buyer should keep the original bill of sale.
Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability
Within five days of the seller releasing ownership of the vehicle, the seller must submit a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability to the DMV. This form should have the buyer's name, address and the vehicle-sale information. You can submit it online to the California DMV.
Other things to note:
- The buyer must go to the DMV to complete transfer of ownership within 10 days of the sale.
- According to California law, you must disclose the odometer reading: when you first register a vehicle, if you transfer ownership or if your vehicle is less than 10 years old.
- If the vehicle is gas-powered and more than four years old, a diesel-powered model made in 1998 or after, or weighs more than 14,000 pounds, you will need to obtain a smog certification.
- If you're a California resident but are out of state and you want to sell your vehicle, you can have someone else sell it by giving them limited power of attorney with this form.
- The California DMV has more information on selling a vehicle.
Car insurance after selling a vehicle
Make sure to contact your car insurance company right away upon selling a vehicle. You don't want to pay for insurance on a car you no longer own.
Updated June 21, 2018