When it comes to registering a car “do I need a bill of sale to register it?” is a question that is asked more and more often. Here, we break down what a bill of sale is, why it is needed, the legal implications of a bill of sale, and how it impacts registering your vehicle.
What Is A Bill Of Sale?
Broadly speaking, a bill of sale is a legal document that records the transfer of ownership of an asset to a second party in exchange for money.
When it comes to automobiles, the document is commonly used to record the sale of cars, motorcycles, and other vehicles, although it is also used to record the sale of personal property in some cases when a formal arrangement is made.
In almost all cases, the bill of sales is first drafted by the seller and includes the details of the transaction such as the amount charged and vehicle description. The bill of sale is important as it protects both parties in case of any disputes arising.
Blueprint for a Bill of Sale
When you have a car that is not yet registered, it is of vital importance that you have a bill of sale created and signed. Dependent on whether you are the buyer or the seller, you should both have and keep hold of a copy of the bill of sale as it is a vital document.
The bill of sale should include both the buyer and seller's complete legal names, their addresses, and the specifics of the vehicle in question, including; the VIN number of the vehicle, the year, make and model of the car, and any other relevant information.
Crucially, per DMV regulations, the bill of sale should also include the amount of money that the car is being sold for or if it is being gifted it should list a ‘$0' as the amount for sale.
The owner should also sign the bill of sale and, depending upon which state the car is sold in, this may need to occur in front of a notary. You will want to check the DMV website to see if this includes your state.
State Regulations for a Bill of Sale and Title Transfer
As with most matters relating to automobiles, it varies depending upon your state. A vehicle bill of sale is not required in all states. Two such states which do not require an auto bill of sale are Illinois and Tennessee. It is always best to check with the DMV.
Moreover, some states require that you use a specific bill of sale template from the DMV of your own state, while others let you draft your own, so long as it complies with your state's legal requirements you're all set, but make sure to check on this.
A very important thing to note is that a bill of sale does not prove ownership of the vehicle, it is merely a record that a sales transaction has occurred between two parties – the buyer and seller listed on the bill of sale.
Note that only a ‘title transfer' proves ownership of the vehicle and again, depending upon your state, the DMV may require that you bring a completed bill of sale with you before the vehicle title transfer paperwork can be properly authorized.
What Needs To Be Included on a Bill of Sale
As well as the full names, legal addresses, signatures, date of sale, purchase price and the location of sale as outlined above, a correctly completed bill of sale should also include all of the following as a handy checklist;
The vehicle type – whether it is a car, motorcycle, or another vehicle.
The make, model, and year of the vehicle
An accurate odometer reading
The vehicle hull number
The engine serial number of the vehicle
The vehicle registration number
The vehicle identification number
Both parties are advised to make photocopies of the bill of sale to keep in their records. The new owner must give the original bill of sale to the DMV with the other required proofs of ownership. As above, a bill of sale alone is not acceptable proof of ownership.
Do I Need a Bill of Sale to Register a Car?
Now you know exactly what a bill of sale is, what it should include, and the process to completing an accurate and correct document, the question many will be asking is “Do I need a bill of sale to register the car?”
The answer again depends upon the state in which you are trying to register the vehicle. In almost every state within the United States, however, a bill of sale, in addition to the title transfer, will be asked of you in order to register your vehicle.
This is for a number of reasons – primarily so that proof a transaction took place whereby you bought the vehicle from another person[s]. This prevents you from being accused of stealing the vehicle or other legal minefields that may occur later on.
Even more important than the bill of sale when it comes to registering the vehicle is the title transfer. This is required in almost every state and is a strict requirement as a pose to the bill of sale which is more loosely required as per DMV guidelines per state.
Almost every state within America absolutely requires that you provide the transfer title before they will even consider registering your vehicle. However, a few states will allow a vehicle to be registered without a title under certain circumstances.
For example, in the State of Georgia, vehicles that are of a certain age may be registered just by presenting a bill of sale. The age of the vehicle usually has to be 25 years or older in order for this stipulation to come into effect.
Georgia allows for the bill of sale to be formatted on a state template or to be hand-written by the seller of the vehicle. As per the guidelines for a bill of sale above, the document must be signed by both parties and all information properly included.
The buyer of the vehicle who is attempting to register it must present the original version to transfer ownership, not a photocopy.
Registering A Car Without Title or Bill of Sale
If you find yourself in a position whereby you need to register your car and are no longer in possession of the title or the bill of sale, you may be able to file for a duplicate title in order to allow you to properly the vehicle in your name.
For example, if you transferred the title into your name after buying the car but lost the title before registering it, you can file for a duplicate title.
As always, the process differs a lot between states, but usually requires a valid identification of the owner, a subsequent application, and for you to pay a fee in order to receive the duplicate title.
It is a relatively straightforward process and is generally a favorable option to other methods when it comes to obtaining the needed title and being able to register your car.
Check With Your Local DMV
When it comes to making sure you have exactly what you need to register your car, you should always double-check with the DMV in your state. The rules can differ quite a lot depending on where you are located so checking with the DMV is always a wise move.
Regardless of whether a valid bill of sale is required to register a car in your state or not, it is always highly advised to have one for your records to avoid any issues further down the line and just as proof that a transaction took place.
Does Cash Cars Buyer Purchase Cars Without Registration?
Cash Cars Buyers are happy to purchase your car without a title, but we do require that you have your registration for the vehicle. The registration shows proof of ownership. If you are ever unsure if we will buy your car, you can always call us and speak with one of our friendly car representatives where they will talk you through the process quickly and clearly. Feel free to contact us today.