Paperwork Needed to Sell a Vehicle

When you’re selling a car in Virginia, you have to be prepared to complete the correct paperwork. To make this process easier, it helps to know what forms to fill out. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has legal guidelines in place in order to complete a vehicle sale. You should also prepare a few documents that offer protection, should things go wrong after the transaction. The following steps will help you transfer your car to a new owner smoothly and efficiently.


In a nutshell, the DMV requires you to transfer the certificate of title, take the license plates off the car, notify the DMV and inform the insurance company. When selling a car, it’s important to fill out the title correctly. Of course, this only takes place after you have received funds from the buyer.


To fill it out properly, complete the relevant portions on the front of the title, under section A. This includes an odometer disclosure, the price of the car, and the purchaser’s name and address. Of course, you also have to sign the certificate to finalize the ownership transfer. However, don’t add your signature until the buyer has done so.


Since you have to notify the Virginia DMV of a car sale, you can complete these steps with the buyer at the office. However, you have other options and don’t have to do this in person. You can inform the agency by phone or online. Additionally, you have to notify the insurance company of the vehicle sale.


If you lost, misplaced or damaged the title, you have to get a duplicate before you can sell a vehicle in Virginia. You can initiate the process online, by phone or by stopping in at a customer service location. Regardless of the option you choose, be prepared to pay a fee. Keep in mind that you can’t submit an application for a replacement when there’s a lien on the vehicle. If you had a prior lien, you might need proof that it has been satisfied.


While the ownership of the vehicle transfers to the buyer, you get to keep its license plates. You can use them on another car, provided it’s registered in your name and you fill out the proper transfer paperwork. You can also dispose of the license plates. However, when the registration is still valid for at least six months, fill out form FMS-210 to request a refund. You should bring this document in when returning the plates to the DMV.


When selling a car, you should also complete a bill of sale and a release of liability. The former lists the conditions and terms of the sale. It will protect you when the buyer tries to dispute in the future what you agreed upon at the time of the transaction. The latter holds you unaccountable for anything that happens after the vehicle changes hands. This is especially important when the new owner fails to register the vehicle promptly and causes damages.