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Vehicle Bill Of Sale
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VEHICLE BILL OF SALE: WHAT IS IT AND WHEN TO USE ONE?

A Vehicle Bill of Sale is a legally-binding document that records the private sale of a vehicle. It acts like a receipt until the vehicle has been registered in the new owners name and full payment has been made. More importantly, it protects the seller and buyer against fraud and future claims where there may be a dispute over ownership, payment and warranties as well as claims for damage, loss and theft.

Is a Vehicle Bill of Sale a legal document?

Yes, a Vehicle Bill of Sale is a legal document which provides proof that full consideration has been provided in a transaction and that the seller has transferred the rights to the item which is detailed in the document. However, a Vehicle Bill of Sale exists as common law and is independent of a state’s legislation.

It may be a simple or complex Bill of Sale, depending on the transaction. For high-value vehicles, it’s important that a Vehicle Bill of Sale is completed properly and obtained at the time of sale. It’s typically drafted by the seller but serves to protect both parties if there is any disagreement in the future. A buyer can insist on a Vehicle Bill of Sale if the seller does not present one.

When is a Vehicle Bill of Sale used?

Simply put, a Vehicle Bill of Sale is written confirmation that a specific vehicle has been sold by a specific seller on a specific date at a specific place for a specific amount of money to a specific buyer. It’s used most often for high-ticket vehicles.

Bear in mind, a Bill of Sale does not prove ownership; only a title transfer proves ownership. It merely records that a voluntary sale transaction has taken place between a legitimate seller and buyer. It’s also commonly used as collateral against a loan, to cover warranties and to protect the buyer against fraud and future claims from a third-party.

What should a Vehicle Bill of Sale include?

For a Vehicle Bill of Sale to be legally binding, it’s important that it complies with requirements of the state where you reside and/or have taken ownership of the vehicle. This may vary from state to state and it’s worth checking online exactly what’s needed.

A generic Vehicle Bill of Sale should include:

  • purchase date
  • name, address and contact details of the seller and buyer
  • description of the vehicle, including
      - license plate number
      - year, make and model
      - VIN (vehicle identification number
      - odometer reading
  • purchase price
  • method of payment
  • warranty information
  • a guarantee that the item is free from all claims
  • signature of the seller and buyer
  • signature of a witness for both parties (preferably a notary public)

Both parties should receive a copy of the Bill of Sale once completed and notarised. It’s not necessary to use a notary public to formerly notarise a Bill of Sale for lower-value items but it is important that the document is seen and signed by a reliable witness.

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What types of Vehicle Bills of Sale do you get?

There are different types of Bill of Sale, depending on the transaction:

Absolute Vehicle Bill of Sale
A document that simply represents the sale or transfer of a vehicle. It does not represent any type of security for a loan or any sales conditions.
Conditional Vehicle Bill of Sale
A document that covers a financing arrangement where a buyer takes possession of a vehicle but its title and right of repossession remain with the seller until the purchase price is paid in full. A Conditional Vehicle Bill of Sale allows the seller to take back the vehicle if the buyer defaults on payment.
Quitclaim Bill of Sale
A document used when the seller cannot guarantee that they own the personal property and has the right to transfer it or when the seller does not have the warrant title.
Bill of Sale with Warranty
A document used when the seller can guarantee they own the personal property and has the right to transfer it. It protects the buyer from claims in the future against the personal property.

Why is a Vehicle Bill of Sale important?

A Vehicle Bill of Sale is a document that records the transfer of ownership of a vehicle. It’s typically used for private transactions, rather than by a dealership that has its own legal vehicle forms to complete. It’s primary purpose is to protect both the seller and buyer from fraud and future claims where there might be problems with proof of ownership, payment or warranties.

Other benefits of using a Vehicle Bill of Sale include:

  • written proof that the seller owns the vehicle and is within his/her rights to sell it

  • helps with the vehicle registration process

  • confirms warranty information

  • protects the buyer from being liable for outstanding parking and speeding tickets (date of purchase)

  • protects the seller from being liable for third-party claims if the buyer is involved in an accident between he/she takes the vehicle from the seller and has it registered in his/her name

  • protects the buyer from future claims if the vehicle is found to be stolen

  • captures important vehicle information needed for the registration process (odometer, VIN etc.)

  • required for accounting purposes and/or submission of federal tax returns
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