Ensuring your vehicle bill of sale successfully conforms to your needs and California DMV requirements can be overwhelming. Follow these 5 steps, and you’ll be well on your way to successfully drafting your own document.
1. It’s in the Details
The first step to writing a good agreement is to detail all relevant information.
Beginning with the parties to the sale, you need to include contact information (i.e., name, address and phone number). Keep in mind, if more than one person is listed on the certificate of title as the owner to the vehicle, you should include contact information for all selling parties. Similarly, if more than one person is purchasing the vehicle, you will need to detail the contact information for all buying parties.
Next, you need to describe the vehicle in detail. Information such as Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), license plate number, make (e.g., Toyota, Ford), model (e.g., Prius, Taurus), body-type (e.g., 4 door sedan) and year should be included.
2. Financial Safety
After your document details buyer and seller information and information about the vehicle, your next step is to detail information about the payment method.
First, you should include the exact amount of money the parties agree on.
Second, you should include the date of sale. Remember this document acts as a receipt to the sale, so the date is important. Documenting the date of sale is also important because the California DMV requires both buyer and seller to transfer title of the vehicle within a certain number of days after the date of sale.
Third, you should detail payment method. This provision serves to protect the seller. Your document should detail if the parties use cash, check, money order, escrow services, etc.
3. Personal Safety
When buying or selling a vehicle from an unknown party, you need to be careful of your personal safety. For that reason, your document needs to specify where the transaction will take place. Generally, a safe place that will also serve well for the money transfer is the buyer or seller’s bank. If the other party tries to change the delivery location, you should be careful.
In free versions you find online, you probably won’t find one detailed enough to include the responsibilities of the parties. Detailing responsibilities decreases the chance of conflict because it commits to writing every step of the transfer. Notably, there are a number of California DMV requirements that should be mentioned in your document.
Your document should address issues such as the DMV requirement for smog certification; DMV requirement for odometer disclosures; DMV required transfer fee; and use tax; and, what documents are required for the transfer.
Your document should clearly explain which party is responsible for completing which of the above-mentioned requirements. For example, California regulations specify that the buyer is responsible for the transfer fee and use tax. The terms of your bill of sale should reflect that.
One of the most important aspects of your California Vehicle Bill of Sale is liability. The California DMV actually provides a basic version for free on its website; however, it does not make the sale “AS-IS.”
Whether you are buying or selling, you need to make it clear what your liability is, so be sure to specify whether the sale is “AS-IS” (the buyer assumes all responsibly for the car including any and all future repairs); or, alternatively, whether you are attaching a limited warranty to the sale.
Good luck with your contract drafting!
Free Printable Bill of Sale California Template in PDF – download