Paperwork Needed to Sell a Vehicle

In order for any vehicle sale to be legal in Texas, it must adhere to legal form. That form includes all the necessary paperwork to make the transaction permanent and binding in a court of law should any disputes arise.

Absence of this paperwork, or any part of it, should the transaction need to be legally investigated, can result in fraud charges brought against the seller whether any fraud was intended or not. Be sure to include all of the following forms with every sale of every vehicle in Texas


Owner’s Title

Every vehicle sold must have a title transferring ownership of the vehicle from the seller to the buyer. This piece of paper represents a legal transaction that confirms the title changed hands on such and such a date.

If you do not have this document, you must apply for a duplicate before you can sell the vehicle. You must complete a request form, submit your photo identification and pay the fees which amount to less than $10. Here is the link for duplicates

To make the ownership transfer, the seller simply fills out the information on the back. Be careful to fill in every blank, and write clearly. Do not forget to sign it. Use the same legal signature you use on all your other legal documents. Do not use nicknames or aliases.

Many people do not understand that the new owner transfer protects the owner who gives the new owner possession of the vehicle. If that transfer is not filled out correctly and completely, the seller can be held liable for any damages the new owner may cause with the vehicle.


Bill of Sale

This document is the actual legal record of the sales transaction. In order for it to be complete and lawful, it must provide the key parts. The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)is the critical piece of information on this form.

This is the single most recognized way of identifying any specific vehicle. It is critical that it be recorded accurately. Locate it first on the title and then at the driver’s side lower left corner of the dash of the vehicle or on the driver side door post.

Verify that the numbers on the vehicle and the VIN on the title match. One number or letter left out or changed invalidates the entire document since the vehicle is not identified or wrongly identified.

Along with the VIN, include a description of the vehicle. Since the VIN is the ultimate source for identifying the vehicle, a brief, standard description is sufficient. Name the make and model and any other distinguishing features, and leave it at that.

Make sure to cover the warranty issue. Record any part of the new car warranty still in effect. Also write down any other agreed upon guarantees you as the seller make.

If there are no warranties, write a phrase saying so. Write something like, ‘Sold As Is’ or ‘No Warranty Issued’. This protects the seller against any future claims for vehicle repairs or unknown problems.

Texas has vehicle safety and performance laws to protect the driving public from unsafe and poorly performing vehicles on its roads. The buyer may request a vehicle report, or the city, county or state may require one.

This is a record of any accidents, evidence of odometer tampering, or whether the car was ever reported as stolen. It also includes any major repairs like motors or transmissions replaced. To access a report for the vehicle you are selling, go to

Be prepared to include this report to avoid any later claims that you sold the vehicle knowing it was problematic. Whether the buyer or the county or city requires it or not, it gives the sale legitimacy and avoids any later potential legal issues.

Finally, remove your license plates. Do not let that vehicle leave your sight with your license plates still mounted on it.

Those plates identify you as the owner. Any accidents, damage or even fatalities the new owner causes will automatically identify you as still the insured and current owner. That means you are the person liable for any and all damages and or injuries.