Documents Needed to Sell a Vehicle

So the time has come, and you've decided to sell your vehicle. You've had it repaired, cleaned it top to bottom, settled on a sale price and think everything's ready to go. There's just one final step remaining before you can sell: gathering the vehicle's sale documentation. Fortunately for you, selling your vehicle only requires collecting a few essential documents.


No matter who's buying your vehicle (an individual or a dealer), you'll need to bring the title to the vehicle with you. If your vehicle isn't completely paid off, you'll need to bring the payoff information for it, along with a lien release from your lender if you have one. Otherwise, you should plan to sign the title over to the buyer upon completion of the sale.

Sale Contract

If selling to an individual (rather than at a dealership), you should also prepare a written sales contract which can serve as proof of purchase for both you and your buyer. Prepare two copies which indicate the date of the sale and the purchase price. Both you and your buyer should sign each copy. Then give one copy to your buyer and retain one for your records.

Maintenance Documents

Some states require emissions checks, smog certification or other forms of maintenance certification to operate a vehicle. Any such documents should be provided to the buyer so that she can prove the vehicle has passed all its recent required inspections when she registers the car with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Photo ID

A photo identification card will not be necessary if you're selling your vehicle to an individual, but a dealership will likely require a photo ID to prove that you are in fact the owner named on the vehicle's title and registration documents.

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