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Whether you use a template, a blank form, or write your own bill of sale, making sure all the necessary information is there is key. 

First, it’s always a good idea to check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to see if there are any specific bill of sale requirements for used car sales. 

Even if a bill of sale is not required by the DMV, it is a good document to have – whether you’re the buyer or the seller. 

This page will go over the key information that should be included on a bill of sale, and how to fill one out. 

Need help creating a bill of sale? Check out VINvaquero.com’s free bill of sale template

Alternatively, check out the bill of sale forms from your state DMV. 

Bill of Sale Overview – What should a bill of sale say?

A bill of sale is a legal document between a buyer and a seller that documents a used vehicle transaction and transfer. 

It is a key document to provide proof of purchase, chain of ownership, details of what is being sold, details of the agreement, and details of the actual sale.

If there are any disputes later on, the bill of sale is a document that both the buyer and seller can use to clear up any confusion. 

The basic details that should be included on any bill of sale include:

  • The details of the seller.
  • The details of the buyer.
  • The details of the vehicle being sold.
  • The details of the transaction itself. 
  • Any warranties or guarantees involved with the sale (most used vehicles are sold “as-is”).
  • The signatures of the buyer and the seller. 

In some states, some additional pieces may be required, such as:

  • Signature notarization. 
  • License plate information. 
  • An odometer disclosure statement. 

Basically, the bill of sale should state who is selling what to whom, when it was sold, and for how much. 

How to Write a Bill of Sale

Now that you’ve got the basics down, here is how to fill out a bill of sale. 

How to Handwrite a Bill of Sale

Unless your state Department of Motor Vehicles requires you to use a specific bill of sale form, you can choose to handwrite one yourself.

If you plan on handwriting a bill of sale:

  • Make sure all the necessary information is included (see below).
  • Include an area for the signatures of both the buyer and the seller.
  • Make sure that everything written is clear and legible.
  • Make a copy for both the buyer and the seller.

Details of the Seller

First, the bill of sale should include the information for the seller of the vehicle. 

This includes:

  • The seller’s full first and last name.
  • The seller’s address.
  • The seller’s driver’s license number (in some states).

Details of the Buyer

Next, the bill of sale should state who the vehicle is being sold to. 

The buyer section should also include:

  • The buyer’s full first and last name.
  • The buyer’s address.
  • The buyer’s driver’s license number, if necessary. 

Description of the Vehicle

The bill of sale must also describe the vehicle that is being transferred.

At a minimum, this should include:

  • The year, make, and model of the vehicle. 
  • The vehicle identification number.
    • The engine number, for motorcycles. 
  • The odometer reading. 

In states where the license plate stays with the vehicle being sold, you should also include the license plate number and the current state where the vehicle is registered. 

Details of the Sale

A bill of sale should also include information about the transaction, which includes:

  • The date of the sale. 
  • The selling price. 

Even if the vehicle is being given as a gift, a bill of sale should be used. 

Instead of a price, you can record “gift” in the details of the sale section. 

Warranty Information and Other Details

Most used vehicles will be sold as-is. 

However, if there are any warranties or guarantees that are being included with the sale, they should be stated on the bill of sale. 

Signatures of Both Parties

Finally, the bill of sale should be signed by both the buyer and seller with a statement that includes something along the lines of: “I declare under penalty of perjury that the statements in this document are true and correct to the best of my knowledge.”

In some states, the signatures on the bill of sale will need to be notarized. 

How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Car

If you are creating a bill of sale for a car, you should include:

  • The model year of the car.
  • The make and model.
  • The VIN.
  • The current odometer reading.

How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Motorcycle

If you are creating a bill of sale for a motorcycle, you should include:

  • The model year of the bike.
  • The make and model.
  • The VIN.
  • The current odometer reading.

How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Motorhome

A bill of sale for an RV, Motor Home, or trailer is just like one for a car or motorcycle. Be sure to include:

  • The year, make, and model of the RV.
  • The VIN.
  • Mileage, if applicable.

How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Boat

A bill of sale for a boat or vessel is similar to that of a car or motorcycle.

A bill of sale for a boat should include:

  • The year, make, model of the boat.
  • The boat’s Hull Identification Number (HIN).
  • The length of the boat.
  • The boat registration, if applicable.
  • Details for the boat’s motor (year, make, model, HP).
  • Details for the boat trailer, if it’s included in the sale.

Next Steps After Completing a Bill of Sale

Once the buyer pays the seller, the documents should be signed and handed over.

Both the buyer and seller should retain a signed copy of the document for their records. If the DMV requires a bill of sale when buying a used vehicle in a private sale, the buyer will need to submit their copy to the DMV as part of the transfer and registration process.

Along with the bill of sale, the seller should also provide:

Additionally, the seller should submit a notice of transfer and release of liability to their state DMV.

While this does not complete the transfer of ownership, it does help protect the seller in case any issues arise.

Once the transaction is complete, the seller should cancel their car insurance policy for the vehicle, and the buyer should purchase a new one.

Who Keeps the Bill of Sale?

Both the seller and the buyer should keep a signed copy of the bill of sale.

If the buyer’ state DMV requires a bill of sale to complete the transfer and registration process, the buyer should make another copy to keep for their own records.