What Paperwork Do You Need When Buying A Used Car?

What Paperwork Do You Need When Buying A Used Car?

What Paperwork Do You Need When Buying A Used Car?

Buying a used car is an exciting endeavor, but it also comes with a fair share of paperwork. Ensuring you have all the necessary documentation in order is crucial to completing a smooth and legally compliant purchase. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the essential paperwork you need when buying a used car.

Bill of Sale

The bill of sale is a fundamental document that serves as proof of purchase. It outlines the details of the transaction, including:

  • The names and addresses of both the buyer and the seller.
  • The vehicle’s make, model, year, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
  • The sale price.
  • The date of sale.
  • Any warranties or guarantees provided by the seller.

Ensure that both you and the seller sign and date the bill of sale, as it’s a legally binding document. Some states require specific bill of sale forms, so check your local regulations.

Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report provides a detailed record of the car’s past, including accidents, title changes, and maintenance.

The most well-known vehicle history report provider is Carfax, but there are others like AutoCheck and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). Requesting a vehicle history report helps you verify that the car’s title is clean and that there are no major issues hidden from view.

Title Certificate

The title certificate is a legal document that establishes ownership of the vehicle. When buying a used car, you should receive the original title certificate signed by the seller.

Make sure the title is free of any liens or encumbrances. If there’s a lien, the seller should provide documentation showing that it will be paid off upon purchase.

Odometer Disclosure Statement

The Odometer Disclosure Statement is a federal requirement in the United States to prevent odometer fraud.

Both the buyer and seller must complete this form, which includes the vehicle’s mileage at the time of sale. Tampering with or misrepresenting mileage is illegal.

Vehicle Inspection Report

Before finalizing the purchase, consider having the car inspected by a trusted mechanic.

The inspection report can help you identify any hidden issues with the vehicle and give you leverage in negotiating the price. While it’s not a legal requirement, it’s a smart step to take when buying a used car.

Warranty Documents

If the used car comes with a warranty, make sure to obtain and carefully review the warranty documents. Understand the terms, coverage, and duration of the warranty, and keep these documents for future reference.

Release of Liability Form

Some states require the seller to submit a release of liability form to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after selling a vehicle.

This form notifies the DMV that you are no longer responsible for the car’s registration, insurance, and any associated fees or fines. It’s essential to ensure that the seller completes this form as required by your state’s regulations.

Insurance Coverage

Before driving your newly purchased used car off the lot, you’ll need to arrange insurance coverage.

Contact your insurance provider to add the vehicle to your policy or shop for a new policy if necessary. Most dealerships won’t let you leave without proof of insurance.


Buying a used car involves several important documents that protect your rights as a buyer and establish the legality of the transaction.

Always thoroughly review and understand the paperwork, and don’t hesitate to seek legal or professional advice if you have any concerns or questions during the process. By ensuring that all the necessary paperwork is in order, you can enjoy your new-to-you car with peace of mind.

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What Paperwork Do You Need When Buying A Used Car?

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