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    What Is a Bill of Sale?

    A bill of sale is a document that records a transaction between two parties. For the seller, a bill of sale shows the date the vehicle was sold and information about the buyer. For the buyer, it gives specific information about the vehicle that can be checked against a Vehicle History Report.

    Please note that a bill of sale does not prove ownership--only a title transfer does that.

    Most bill of sale forms include:

    • Vehicle type (e.g, motor vehicle, boat, or other motorcycle, including mopeds and scooters).
    • Specific vehicle information:
      ―Make.
      ―Model.
      ―Year.
      ―Odometer reading.
      ―Vehicle identification number (VIN).
    • Seller’s name and address.
    • Buyer’s name and address.
    • Purchase price.
    • Seller’s signature and date.
    • Buyer’s signature.*

    * The buyer may not be required to sign the bill of sale form; however, a buyer signature is critically important in protecting the seller. If the buyer doesn’t sign the form, the seller may have difficulty proving the sale took place; as a result, he may be held liable for tickets or other violations incurred by the new owner.

    Do You Need a Bill of Sale?

    Regardless of your state’s legal requirement, the bill of sale is an important record of the transaction and benefits both the buyer and seller.

    If You Are the Buyer

    Usually, sellers are responsible for providing the bill of sale; however, buyers are advised to bring one to the table, too―just in case.

    A bill of sale not only serves as a record of the sale, but the details provided within (such as purchase price, VIN, and odometer reading) may make for a more seamless registration process for your newly purchased vehicle.

    If You Are the Seller

    Some states require that the seller have a signed, dated, and sometimes even notarized bill of sale as part of the title transfer paperwork; other states don’t.

    Whether the law requires it or not, a completed bill of sale is an essential addition to your records―if you’re the seller. Your bill of sale proves you―the seller―sold and are therefore no longer responsible for the vehicle, should the new owner incur a traffic violation or get into an accident.

    Whether you are the seller or the buyer of the vehicle, you should never walk away from the transaction without a copy of the bill of sale. If you do not get a copy signed by both parties at the time of sale, you leave yourself open to legal issues or other problems down the line.

    Completing the Sale with a Title Transfer

    A bill of sale does not prove ownership or complete the sale. To ensure that you have proof of ownership and to protect yourself from any future liability, you must complete a title transfer.

    Essential Buyer's Tip: Using A Vehicle History Report

    As a potential buyer, you should always learn as much as you can about the vehicle for sale. If you don’t seek out the details of a vehicle’s history, you could end up buying a lemon and pouring money into a vehicle you no longer want.

    Before you agree to purchase and sign a bill of sale, it is smart to read the vehicle history report to make sure you’re making a quality purchase. To obtain details on a vehicle prior to buying, check out our page on Vehicle History Reports.

    Determining Your State’s Requirement

    You can determine whether your state legally requires and/or offers a bill of sale form by clicking your state on the map above or the list below.