Tips for selling a vehicle

Get tips for selling your vehicle in Washington.

Remove license plates

  • Sellers are legally obligated to remove the license plates. This protects you from being held liable for towing charges, parking tickets, speed camera tickets, and toll bills. 
  • Plates may be transferred to a different (like-kind) vehicle you own, or you can surrender them at a vehicle licensing office. In any case, the buyer can’t use them.

Do a vehicle inspection

  • Agreeing to an inspection by a mechanic, typically at the buyer’s expense, may build trust in the sales relationship and help ensure the vehicle is safe to operate. Both buyer and seller should keep a copy for their records.

Locate the vehicle's title

  • Vehicles must have a valid title before they can be sold.
  • If you can’t find your title, obtain a replacement title. This can take 4–8 weeks. If you need it sooner, a quick title may be an option — but it does cost more. An Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest or Affidavit in Lieu of Title is also acceptable. Contact a vehicle licensing office to go over your options.

Complete a bill of sale

  • Before the buyer can apply for a new title and pay fees or taxes on the vehicle, you’ll both need to sign a Bill of Sale, unless the sale price and date are included on the title.
  • Not to be confused with a Report of Sale, the Bill of Sale includes information about the vehicle, as well as the buyer and seller. Each party should keep a copy.

Collect payment and sign over the title

  • We recommend both parties meet at a vehicle licensing office to collect payment and sign over the title. You may want to collect payment from the buyer before signing over the title. 
  • If a vehicle licensing office isn't an option, meet in a well-lit public area or ask a trusted third party to be there.
  • If you are not meeting the buyer at a vehicle licensing office, and they will be driving the car without a license plate, the buyer should purchase a trip permit so they can legally drive the vehicle.

Remove personal items

  • Protect your privacy and remove anything that might have your name, address, photo, or other personal information. This could include your registration or proof of insurance, for example.

Submit a Report of Sale

  • Filing a Report of Sale may release the seller from liability related to the vehicle. 
  • The seller is legally obligated to submit a Report of Sale within 5 days of the sale date. If you are completing the sale and vehicle transfer in a vehicle licensing office, this may not be necessary.
Was this information helpful?