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What Is A Vehicle Bill Of Sale?

Lyndon Bell
by Lyndon Bell
February 20, 2013

Basically, a Vehicle Bill Of Sale is the “receipt” a seller gives to the buyer of a car in exchange for the monetary or other agreed upon compensation for an automobile transaction. A bill of sale is typically requested at the Department of Motor Vehicles, along with a signed vehicle title transfer certificate, before the transfer of the vehicle’s title and ownership can be completed to the buyer.

Upon satisfactory completion of the bill of sale, a notice of transfer, and a release of liability, the DMV will issue a new certificate of registration to the buyer.

When signed by both the buyer and the seller, the Vehicle Bill Of Sale becomes a legal document acknowledging the acceptance of whatever consideration is offered in exchange for a given automobile. Consideration can be money, another car, or anything else the two parties agree upon as fair compensation for the transfer of ownership of the vehicle.

A typical bill of sale for an automobile transaction lists the seller, the buyer, and the amount of money (or whatever the seller accepted in trade) given in exchange for transferring ownership of the automobile. It should list the make, model and build year of the vehicle, in addition to the vehicle’s identification number and the accrued mileage showing on the vehicle’s odometer at the time of the transfer.

Both the buyer and seller’s contact information should be listed; including the parties’ names, physical addresses and phone numbers. The date of the transaction should be included as well. In some states, the driver’s license number of both the seller and buyer are required as well.

In addition to the above information, some language describing the nature of the agreement between the two parties should also be included.

This can be stated in the form of language to the effect of;

I, the undersigned seller, do hereby sell the vehicle described herein to the buyer listed herein for the amount shown. I further certify that all of the information provided in this Bill of Sale is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge. 

I, the undersigned buyer accepts receipt of this Bill of Sale and understands that the above vehicle is sold in “as is” condition with no guarantees or warranties, either expressed or implied, for the vehicle.

It is important to note the specific language of that last clause protects the seller should something happen to the car after the buyer takes delivery of it. The phrase “as is”, means the buyer accepts the car and whatever benefits, advantages, and yes—faults come with it. If that phrase isn’t included, a buyer can sue a seller for anything that goes wrong with the car after the sale.

Completing the bill of sale is an important step in the process of selling a car. The bill of sales defines the nature of the exchange of value for both sides of the transaction. It also describes the vehcle in detail, identifies the buyer and the seller, and protects the seller from liability should a problem arise with the car after the sale.


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