Release of Liability
Release of Liability when Selling a Vehicle
When you sell a vehicle as a private party, you'd be at risk if the buyer was to keep the vehicle titled and registered in your name and get in an accident. That's why, as a seller, it's important to create a bill of sale, transfer the vehicle's title, and cancel your car insurance policy after the vehicle is officially out of your possession.
Additionally, your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), Department of Revenue (DOR), Secretary of State (SOS), or county clerk's office may require you to (or give you the option to) file a release of liability or notice of transfer form.
After selling your vehicle you might, depending on where you live, be required to notify your town or motor vehicle office of the change in ownership. In legal speak, this is often referred to as release of liability or notice of transfer.
The majority of states mandate some form of notification within a certain amount of days after the date of your vehicle being sold. Usually this requires either surrendering your license plates and/or submitting a release of liability form, which some states call a sold notice.
Even if you reside in a state that doesn't require post-sale notification, it’s always wise to still take the time to either notify your motor vehicle office or town clerk. This will protect you from any possible traffic infractions incurred by the new owner while the vehicle, according to state records, is still registered under your name.
Also, if you reside in a state requiring release of liability, be sure to complete this task before canceling the sold vehicle’s insurance. Otherwise you risk possible legal hassles.
Some states allow you to complete a notice of sale or transfer/release of liability form online, while others require you to download and print a form, and submit it by mail or in person to your local motor vehicle office.
Generally, you'll need to provide the following information on a release of liability/notice of transfer form:
- The vehicle's license plate number.
- A description of the vehicle make, model, color, and year.
- The vehicle identification number (VIN) (either a portion or the complete number).
- The date of the sale/title transfer.
- The odometer reading at the time of the sale or transfer.
- The name and contact information of the new owner.
- Your name and contact information.
The specific information you'll need to provide on your release of liability/notice of transfer will vary from state to state. For specific details on your release of liability requirement, the form you'll need to complete and the information you'll need to provide, please contact your local motor vehicle division.
First you'll want to check whether the release of liability is a state requirement. Downloadable forms are maintained by your local motor vehicle office if, in fact, your state requires the completion of this form. For more info, you can also consult our section on required paperwork.
If you have questions about where to obtain a release of liability/notice of transfer form, please contact your state's DMV, MVA, DOR, SOS, or county clerk's office.Find Your
Local DMV Office