Paperwork When Selling a Car in Washington DC

Paperwork Required to Sell a Car in Washington, D.C.

So, you're looking to sell a car in the nation's capital! There are certain things you need to be aware of in order to successfully transfer ownership of your vehicle.

The Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) makes it fairly easy for you, putting most of the paperwork on the buyer, however, you may need to take a few extra steps depending on your situation.

Selling a Vehicle in Washington, D.C.

The bulk of the hard work in selling a car in Washington D.C. is no different than anywhere else. The main thing is to find a buyer! To learn more about some of the strategies—from assessing your vehicle's market value to advertising it to used-car shoppers—check out our informative guide to selling a used vehicle. It's a good companion piece to read before delving into the city regulations below.

If you've managed to find a buyer, then the process becomes fairly straightforward. You'll simply sign over the certificate of title to the new owner and remove your license tags.

Required Documents in Washington D.C.

The main document you and the buyer will be dealing with during the vehicle sale will be the car title certificate. You'll need to sign it and turn it over to the new owner to effect the title transfer.

Bear in mind that any liens on the vehicle will need to be satisfied before you can sell the car.

You'll also want to offer an odometer disclosure statement by noting the car's mileage at the time of sale on the back of the title.

A Washington D.C. bill of sale is also a good idea. This document formally summarizes the transaction for your records and those of the buyer. For more information about what is included on this document, visit our Bill of Sale page.

Duplicate Washington, D.C. Title

If your car certificate of title has been stolen, misplaced, or is damaged beyond legitimacy, you'll need to get a hold of a duplicate title in order to sell your car in Washington, D.C.

You can request a replacement title online at the Washington D.C. DMV website or by filling out the Certificate of Title/Temporary Tag Application (Form DMV-CTA-001) and taking it to a DMV office in person.

You'll need to provide photo identification and information about the car, such as:

  • A renewal notice.
  • The vehicle registration.
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • The title number.
  • The license plate number.

If a lien's been connected to your vehicle, you'll also need proof that the lien has been satisfied when you apply for the duplicate title. You can find out what documents are acceptable on the Washington D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles website.

There is a $26 duplicate title fee.

For more information, visit our Replacing a Lost Title in Washington, D.C. page.

Duplicate Registration in Washington, D.C.

It's also possible that you need to replace your vehicle registration ahead of the car sale. To obtain a duplicate registration card, head for a D.C. DMV office or complete the application online at the DMV website. You'll need to provide acceptable identification.

There is a $20 fee for a duplicate registration card.

For more information, visit our Replacing a Lost Registration in Washington, D.C. page.

D.C. Vehicle History Reports

A buyer checking out your car may well do so by obtaining a vehicle history report, which serves up information on important details, such as:

  • Salvaged title status.
  • Odometer fraud.
  • Instances of accidents and theft.
  • Major repairs.

It may serve you well to order your own vehicle history report and use it as part of your sales strategy.

Learn more on our Vehicle History Reports page.

Transferring License Plates After a Sale

Once you've sold your car, be sure to remove the license plates. If they are still valid, you can transfer them to a different car as long as you're the registered owner.

You can do so with a few pieces of paperwork, including the car title and a valid inspection sticker. Find out more on the Washington D.C. DMV website.


Certificate of Title/Temporary Tag Application
Title and register your vehicle with the Washington D.C. DMV.
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