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How To Sell A Car in Washington State: Paperwork and Laws

How To Sell A Car in Washington State: Paperwork and Laws

Selling a car in Washington State can be easy, if you know what paperwork and documents to complete.  As a seller, it’s important to know how transfer an auto title, get a duplicate title and more.

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Check out our tips and steps that provide detailed instructions for how to sell a car privately. And for additional questions you have about your Washington State car title as well as how to sell a car in Washington State, visit your Washington Department of Licensing today!

Here in Washington State, if you have sold a vehicle, check out what the state requires that you do!

What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My Vehicle?

You will need the following documents for a successful transfer of the title for the vehicle you are selling:

  • Title– all legal and registered owners have to sign and date the title, as well as fill out the date of sale and sales price.
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement– this document has to be signed by the buyer and seller. This is applicable if the vehicle is 9 years or newer.
  • Bill of Sale– which includes the year, make, model, license plate, VIN number, the date of sale and the purchase price
  • Emissions Certificate– this document applies if the vehicle hasn’t been tested in the last two years and if emissions is required in the resident city.
  • Notification Statement– this is a simple statement that you need to write to the Washington DOL. You are to notify the state of Washington of the sale within 5 days.

Removal of License Plates from Vehicle

Removal of License Plates from Vehicle

Once you remove the license plates from your car as the vehicle seller, the new owner is now ready to transfer ownership!

If you forget and leave the license plates on the car, you could face issues such as impound costs, traffic citations and additional liabilities.

Filing Report Once You Sell Vehicle

Here in Washington State, once you sell an automobile, you must file a report of sale. This document is an important one, because it protects you as a seller from any liability associates with towing charges. You are also protected from both criminal and civil liabilities. The new owner has to then transfer the ownership into their name. Click here for additional information from the Washington Department of Licensing!

Documents Needed to Sell Your Car

You as the seller and the buyer must fill out the following steps in for a successful and compete title transfer:

  1. You the seller, must provide your signature on the vehicle certificate of title. For vehicles with more than one owner, each owner will have to do the same. For a vehicle that is 10 years old or newer, the title must have an odometer reading.
  2. You and the buyer of your vehicle must fill out a Washington State bill of sale. The state's Vehicle/Vessel Bill of Sale which is Form TD-420-065 is an acceptable bill of sale to use.
  3. Your bill of sale must have the price of the car and the sale date.
  4. Additional basics about the car must be on the bill of sale. Those include:
  • The car’s year, make, and model.
  • The vehicle license plate number.
  • The VIN or the Vehicle identification number.

When you sell your car, you have to notify the Washington Department of Licensing. If you don’t report the sale as soon as you can, you could face liability issues such as towing and citations. Once you report the sale, you no longer own the vehicle and those liabilities are released.

Here you have the option of reporting the sale either online two ways. The first is though the Washington DOL License eXpress account you (may) have, or by using the online form.

 You can also visit your local Washington DOL office. Click here to access the website!

Getting a Washington State Duplicate Title

For a Washington State title that is missing, lost damaged, or destroyed, you must apply for a duplicate one.

An Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest (Form TD-420-040) is what you need to submit for a duplicate title. Once downloaded and complete, you can submit it to the Washington DOL or Department of Licensing. There is a $35.50 fee for a duplicate car title. You can also expect that duplicate to arrive in approximate ten weeks from your initial request.

But, if you cannot wait ten weeks for a title, you have the option to get expedited title which costs an additional $85.50.  Click here for the expedited Washington State expedited title.

How do I Get a Duplicate Registration?

If you need a duplicate registration, you need to complete the Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest  which is Form TD-420-040. For the duplicate registration, make sure that you check off the “Registration” box under the “Affidavit of Loss” area.

For a duplicate registration, you must have a notary present to witness all signatures from all owners of the vehicle. Once notarized You can bring the  application to a Washington vehicle licensing office or send it by mail. Washington state requires a $1.25 fee for a duplicate registration . There is also a service and filing fee you have to pay.

Bill of Sale

The buyer will need a bill of sale. The Washington DOL needs it for calculating the vehicle's use tax. And while this does not apply to you, it's always smart to keep a bill of sale for your own records. You can, if needed, easily download this form from the DOL web page.

Washington Bill of Sale

The Washington state bill of sale must have:

  1. The vehicle: (a) make, (b) model and (c) year
  2. License plate
  3. Registration number
  4. Vehicle Identity Number or VIN
  5. Sale date
  6. Sale price
  7. The (a) names, (b) addresses and (c) signatures of all sellers and buyers. Click here for the Washington Vehicle/Vessel Bill of Sale or Form TD-420-065.

For any issues or additional matters about the selling of your car, contact the Washington DOL today!

Should I Sell My Car Online?

Now that you have a good understanding of what’s required from you as the seller and the buyer, you may decide to sell your car online.

Sites such as Facebook, Craigslist and even Instagram offer used car sellers a platform to sell a car. But selling a car online can be time consuming. First, your pictures of the car must be crisp, clear and focused. The pictures you take of the car will show the potential buyer the condition it is in.

Secondly you want to tell potential buyers why he or she should buy your car. You want to sound as positive as possible with your words. Even if something on the car doesn’t work as it is supposed to.

Finally, you have to leave a way for folks to contact you. Perhaps you can use your email or a good phone number that you don’t mind getting calls on, day and night!

Now, comes the waiting. To sell your car may take days, weeks and even months.

Tips for Dealing with Buyers

We all have common sense when it comes to dealing with folks. But when selling a car, you want to deal with buyers in a way that garners a quick sell. Check out some friendly advice we are passing along below!

  1. Remember to be polite. When it comes to describing your car, you have to remember to be polite to buyers. This comes in handy, when you have talked about the brakes on your car over 50 times. The buyer has no idea that you have shared the mileage over dozen times, so try not to get agitated when the 10th, 20th and 30th perspective buyer calls you.
  2. Stand your ground. If you are firm on the price of your car, then be firm. For those times you want to negotiate the price of your car, do so! If you are only accepting cash or money orders and no personal checks, let the buyer know!
  3. Test Drive if you want to. If you feel comfortable offering your potential buyer a test drive, then do so! But you should never be bullied into offering a test drive. Try to have some safeguards in place if you do go out on a test drive. Maybe a ride around the block a few times, or down the street may be sufficient. Perhaps your potential buyer wants to see how the car handles on the freeway. Make sure that you structure your test drive requests the way you want them structured.
  4. Be honest and transparent. If there is something on the car that is not working properly and you don’t want to get that item fixed, just let the buyer know.

For example, if the transmission is not working properly, just let your perspective buyer know. Even if a car doesn’t run or start, lots of folks will still buy your car!

For additional help on selling a car here in Washington state, visit the Washington DOL

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