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How To Sell A Car In California – DMV’s Seller Requirements

How To Sell A Car In California – DMV’s Seller Requirements

To sell a car in California, you can begin by contacting your local DMV office. But there are additional tasks that need to be taken care of. From duplicate car titles, to title transfers, there’s lots to do. So, check out our detailed guide, that helps with eliminating the mystery out of how to sell a car in California.


Requirements for Selling a Vehicle in California

As a car seller, there are certain rules that must be followed.  Check out car the seller requirements, as mandated by California.

For car sellers, the California DMV requires the following:

  • Release of your ownership of the vehicle. To do this, you must sign the designating line on the title certificate. Additionally, lien holders must also sign the title, if this applies to your vehicle sale.
  • A current as well as valid smog certificate, if this applies to your sale.
    • It is not necessary for you to get a certificate, if you have a car renewal that is within the 90-day time frame and you offer a smog certificate at that time. You will need to sign a document stating this.
    • For a vehicle that is four-years-old or less, you do not have to offer a smog certificate to the buyer.
  • The odometer statement. You need to submit this, if the car is less than 10 years old.
    • Additionally, you are able to submit this document two ways. You can add this to the certificate of title or you can submit this on a completed Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment which is Form REG 262. Click here to get the form!

After the sale of your vehicle and you submit all of the required documents, you have to notify the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that you no longer own the car.

To do this, you must fill out the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability within 5 days of the sale. The Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability is a process. Generally, the Release of Liability form CA is attached to your title. Click here to learn more!

how to sell a car in california

How to Sell a Car in California – Smog Check and Vehicle Inspections

In California, there are very strict laws for vehicle inspections. As a vehicle seller, you must provide the buyer with a valid smog certificate during the sale. You should also inform the buyer, that the smog certification is only valid for 90 days after it’s issue. There are exemptions to this law which include:

  • You are able to submit a biennial smog certificate to the DMV within 90 days before the transfer date.
  • The car is four-years-old or less. years old or less.

It’s important to note that cars that are model year 1975 older do not have to have smog inspections.

How To Sell A Car In California – Changing Ownership

In order to transfer ownership of a car in California, you need the following:

Required Documents for Vehicle Transfer

California Certificate of Title or Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227)
For car sellers who have a missing title, you  must use a REG 227 to complete the transfer of ownership. Both the seller as well as buyer have to fill out the title or REG 227. Additionally, you must get the lien holder’s release, and get a notary to witness the signature, if a REG 227 form is used. You can’t use REG 227 for a car that is two model years old or less for this instance, you just get a replacement title must be through the lien holder. Click here to learn more!

Statement to Record Ownership/Statement of Error or Erasure (REG 101) form
This is a form that CA recognizes, when a name or other information is entered on the title by mistake. The REG 101 is filled out by person(s) whose name(s) appears by mistake. Learn more here!

Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (CGW) (REG 4008) form
This form is for the use of a vehicle that is a commercial motor vehicle. Learn more here!

Odometer Disclosure Statement
As a vehicle seller, you have to disclose the vehicle’s odometer mileage reading. But you don’t have to do this if:

  1. The vehicle is ten-years or older.
  2. You have a commercial vehicle with a GVW or CGW of more than 16,000 pounds. Learn more about the odometer disclosure statement by clicking here!

How to Sell a Car in California – What is a Lien Sale?

For a person who offers the repairs, housing, materials and supplies for a vehicle and has seen no payment for his or her services, “…that person has a lien against the vehicle. The lien arises at the time the registered owner is presented with a written statement of charges for completed work or services,” according to the California DMV. Learn more by clicking here!

What About a Salvage Vehicle?

A salvage vehicle is a vehicle that endures a wreck damage or has been destroyed. The state of California will issue a car a Salvage Certificate instead of an ownership certificate for a total loss salvage vehicle. This document becomes the ownership document that the owner can use. Click here to learn more!

how to sell a car in california

How To Sell a Car in California: Changing a Legal Owner

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will not remove the legal owner until the responsible party or the legal owner submits the proper documents and fee. What is needed? Read below:

  1. California Certificate of Title or an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227).
  1. Monies for transfer fee.

Additional Documents That You May Need:

  • A Lien Satisfied/Title Holder Release (REG 166)— This form has to be witnessed by a notary. You can also use this form as an alternative to the legal owner’s releasing signature on the California Certificate of Title or on an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227). This form is for cars that are three model years and older. Click here to read more!

How do I Remove the Legal Owner from the Certificate of Title?

To remove the legal owner’s name, you have to submit the Certificate of Title and a transfer fee to the California DMV.
Additionally, the legal owner must release the lien on the Certificate of Title. To do this, you must sign line 2.

For an address change or your address is not currently on file with the CA DMV, you are able to line out your old address on the title and write your new address next to it.

For this, the CA DMV will issue a new Certificate of Title and registration card to the registered vehicle owner.

How To Sell a Car in California  – Getting a Duplicate Car Title

For a California Certificate of Title that has lost, stolen, damaged or even illegible, you can get a duplicate title.

  • For a California vehicle which is two model years old or newer— You must get a duplicate car title Certificate of Title, by first submitting a completed Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG227) and a duplicate title fee to DMV. For the party who knows of the disposition of the Certificate of Title must complete the “Missing Title Statement of Facts” section. Then, California will issue a new Certificate of Title to the legal owner of record. Click here to read more!
  • For a California vehicle that is three model years old or older or the vehicle is a vessel— You must complete and submit an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227). You must also pay the duplicate title fee, as well as the transfer fee to remove the legal owner. You must then take the legal owner’s releasing signature to a notary. Additionally, the person who has knowledge of the disposition of the Certificate of Title must fill out the “Missing Title Statement of Facts” section. Click here to read more!

Odometer Mileage Reporting

The Law With Odometer Mileage Readings

California legislation requires the collection and validation of the odometer mileage reading for the majority of motor vehicles. This just be done, after initial registration and the registered owner is in compliance with the Federal Truth in Mileage Act of 1986.

When To Report Odometer Mileage Readings

Although California encourages odometer mileage readings for all motor vehicles, it is not mandatory unless:

  1. The vehicle is less than ten-years-old.
  2. You register a motor vehicle or transfer ownership initially.
  • you initially register a motor vehicle or transfer ownership, and
  • the vehicle is less than 10 years old.
  • Click here to learn more!

how to sell a car in california

How to Sell a Car in California – The Bill of Sale

As a car seller, it is to your advantage to ask the buyer to fill out a Bill of Sale. Although you might not need this, it shows proof of the sale. It should also include the following:

  • VIN or Vehicle Identification Number of car
  • Year, make and model of the car
  • Contact information for both individuals, the buyer and seller
  • The price the vehicle was sold for
  • Need a California bill of sale? Click here!