Paperwork When Selling a Car in California
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Report the sale to the DMV within 5 days from the date of sale by completing the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability and mailing it to:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability
- P.O. Box 942859
- Sacramento, CA 94259-0001
Be sure this form is filled out completely and correctly. If it's incomplete, the vehicle's record won't be updated until the buyer applies for a new title. You could be held liable if they are involved in an accident before then, and you're still considered the owner.
If the vehicle is over four years old, it is the seller's responsibility to provide proof of a current smog certification unless the vehicle registration was renewed with the California DMV within the past 90 days. Proof of smog certification is not required if the title to the vehicle is being transferred within a family.
If you do sell it without a smog certification and it doesn't pass, the seller is responsible for repairing it to the smog certification standards.
Transfer the title by signing the back in the appropriate spaces, and have the new owner sign it, too.
Bill of Sale
It's also smart to ask the buyer to complete a Bill of Sale―one copy for each of you. You might not need this, but it's an easy backup document should there be any questions about the transaction later.
If you've misplaced your title, submit an Application for Duplicate Title. You'll have to pay any fees and get legal before transferring ownership of your vehicle.
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