You’ve finally made the decision to sell that old, rustic beater you drove around for the past decade. Or maybe you just finished traffic school and are looking to purchase a new car. The transactional experience of buying or selling a car need not be to complex. Especially if you know what document you need to prepare the sale. When selling a car in California, you’ll need a CA DMV bill of sale. A DMV bill of sale is an accredited formal documentation of a vehicle transaction. When a vehicle is purchased or sold between two private parties, a bill of sale is necessary to document the transaction as a proof of sale. To make the sales process easier, we’re telling you everything you need to know about the document.

Why You Need a Bill of Sale

Dealing with money can turn any situation into a legal one. Nobody wants to be cheated out of a deal, and, often, people will look for ways to weasel a few dollars out of you. This is important if you are a new driver looking to buy or someone looking to sale. Having a bill of sale is also used for drivers when buying insurance. Taking 5-minutes to fill out this simple form will save both parties hours and potentially dollars down the line. Keeping documentation of your transactions will help you track how much money you spend, your inventory, and protect you in certain legal scenarios. In the case of selling your car, having a receipt will help prove that you are no longer the owner of the vehicle. If you’re the buyer of a vehicle, the bill of sale is important for registering the vehicle under your name. You will also be able to prove the value of the car. The DMV will estimate your car’s worth to calculate the Vehicle License Fee (VLF), if the real price is unknown. Often, the estimation is higher than the actual price of the vehicle. Therefore, presenting the bill of sale could save you money when paying the VLF. The state of California doesn’t require all vehicle sellers to fill out a CA DMV bill of sale form, however, you could lose important transaction information if you don’t use one.

How Do You Use a Bill of Sale?

With the right information, filling out your bill of sale is simple. You’ll need to know the following information to fill out the form:
  • The name of the buyer and the seller
  • The address of both parties
  • The seller's signature
  • The vehicle’s make, model, and year
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Date of transaction
  • Amount paid to the buyer
Most people think filling out money related paperwork is daunting. However, California has made recording your vehicle transaction simple. Below is a bill of sale example. This tiny slip of paper is extremely important for both parties because it is the only proof you have when exchanging a large lump sum of money.  

Where Do You Get a Bill of Sale?

  There are services that can customize your bill of sale. However, you don’t have to pay to own a copy (unless you want to add an extra bit of flare to the transaction). To get your bill of sale, you can print your own copy from the DMV website or access a .pdf version here. For when you don’t have a printer, you can request one by mail. The CA DMV hotline is 1-800-777-0133, and you can place the order over the phone.