When selling a car to a dealership or through an auto broker, someone else typically handles the paperwork and ensures that everything is signed correctly to transfer ownership legally. If you're selling a car yourself, however, you are responsible for making sure that ownership is transferred properly to the buyer. Before a title and registration can be issued to the new owner, you and the buyer must sign the old title to ensure proper title transfer.
Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles and confirm your state's requirements for transferring ownership of a vehicle. Some states require emissions testing, a signed release of liability form, notarization of the title or proof that other state-specific requirements have been met. If the DMV does not handle title issuance and vehicle registration in your state, someone at the DMV office will direct you to the proper county clerk or other governing office where you can receive this information.
Prepare a bill of sale to provide additional proof that the vehicle has been sold. The bill of sale should contain basic information, such as the make, model, year and color of the vehicle, a general description of it, the car's vehicle identification number, the price paid and the date when the sale was finalized. The bill of sale also should state that the vehicle was purchased "as-is" and have spaces for you and the buyer to sign.
Meet with the buyer to receive payment and sign over the title. Request that the payment be made in cash or a cashier's check if possible. Write a receipt for the payment to provide the buyer with additional proof that the payment was made.
Fill out the bill of sale and any other state-specific paperwork that is required in addition to the title. Fill out the forms on the back of the existing title as well, entering odometer information and contact information as required. If your state requires that the title be notarized, the paperwork should be filled out in the presence of a notary public.
Sign the title where indicated and have the buyer do the same. If the title is being notarized, the notary public will affix her seal and sign as an official witness of the title transfer once both of you have signed. Make copies of all signed pieces of paperwork, giving the originals to the buyer along with all keys to the car.
Contact your insurance company and the DMV or other office responsible for vehicle registration to inform them that you have sold the car. This will cancel the insurance coverage that you have on the vehicle and will ensure that you are not held responsible for any tickets, damage or other problems caused by the new owner.
Some states require that the seller keep the license plate on a car that is being sold, while other states transfer the license plate along with the car title. Be sure to inquire with the DMV or other issuing authority as to your state's requirements on this issue.