Vehicle Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is not always a requirement in California, but it’s something you might consider creating for your own protection and personal records if you sell a vehicle. If you’d like to sell your vehicle in California, you should file a bill of sale to provide the DMV with the records they need to complete a title transfer. It’s a great piece of information to help you keep up with the sale of your vehicle, the important information from the sale, and the buyer’s information long after the sale is complete. Here’s what you need to know about a bill of sale including the fact it’s not a legal requirement in California. It’s only meant to protect you and to provide you and the buyer with peace of mind.


From the Seller’s Standpoint

If you are the seller of a vehicle, you want to draft this form to include all the information pertaining to the sale of your vehicle. It’s a basic piece of information that keeps everything feeling a bit more professional and safe. It’s not legally required in this state, but it does help you keep up with important information such as the following:

  • The date of the transaction
  •  The buyer’s personal information
  • The purchase price of the vehicle
  • Contact information for both parties
  • VIN and other information about the car


From the Buyer’s Standpoint

Buying a car in California is fine, but you do need to protect yourself with the proper paperwork. You are within your rights to ask the seller to provide you with this form so you have specific information on hand. It’s a nice way to prove you made a purchase while also outlining all of the details associated with the purchase. It’s also helpful to have this form when you’re registering your vehicle with the DMV.

Even though the seller is legally required to provide the DMV with specific paperwork following the sale of their vehicle, you don’t know if they will. This bill of sale helps you prove you are the owner of the vehicle if you register it before the seller lets the DMV know they no longer own the vehicle in question.


What to Include

If you decide you’d like to create this form and use it in the sale of your vehicle, you’re making a wise decision. However, you should know what information to include in the bill so you keep the information correct and appropriate.

  • Your name, address, and contact information
  • The buyer’s name, address, and contact information
  • The price for which you sold the vehicle
  • The year, make, model, trim, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle you sold
  • The date of the sale
  • The signature of the seller and the buyer


You must also be sure you file all the proper paperwork to the DMV, which includes the transfer of title, the satisfaction of lien if it’s required, and the smog certification required. You have five days from the date of the sale to provide this information to the DMV. If you are donating the vehicle or giving it to someone, you can include that information on the sales bill, too. You should also obtain a receipt if it’s a donation so you can use it to file your income taxes. Donations are tax deductions, and you don’t want to miss one as big as a vehicle.

If you have any questions about a sales bill, contact your local DMV to ask them what you should include. You can also perform an internet search to see if you can find one that works for you, download it, and use it. Be sure you are keeping a copy of all the paperwork involved in the sale for yourself, providing one to the buyer, and submitting the rest of the DMV. The sales bill is not required when filing the title transfer and other items, but you certainly don’t want to forgo keeping a copy for your records or filing one with someone else to use with their records.