Sell personal property safely and securely with LawDistrict’s customizable, free Bill of Sale form for cars, motorcycles, boats, and much more.
Last Update December 1st, 2021
What is a Bill of Sale
A bill of sale is a legal document that records the transfer of certain types of property. This creates an official certificate that describes the change in ownership and the nature of the sale of the item being sold.
It is used to show the terms of the deal that has been struck between the buyer and the seller. It also provides important information about the item being sold and its features and state at the time of purchase.
A valid bill of sale is often used to protect the buyer and the seller in the event of any future disputes. It also shows that both parties have formally consented to the sale under these agreements.
A bill of sale can be used during the buying and selling of:
Types of Bill of Sale
Depending on the type of property you’re trying to sell, your bill of sale could vary. When creating your template you may need to add special information in order for it to be valid.
This can often be to satisfy the necessities of a government agency such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or to conform to state law. Below we’ve listed some of the specificities you’ll find on different kinds of bill of sale.
Car and Motorcycle Bill of Sale
A car bill of sale needs a detailed description of the make, model, and registration of the car. You will also need to provide the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the odometer reading on the document.
In most states, sellers must complete a bill of sale by law and register it with a local DMV. Additionally, in a number of cases, it will also have to be notarized.
A motorcycle bill of sale has a lot in common with a car bill of sale. You will also need to provide the vehicle’s registration, VIN, and odometer reading.
Livestock Bill of Sale
A livestock bill of sale allows a seller to transfer one or more animals to a new owner. The livestock could be either a pig, cow, sheep or any other commercially farmed animal.
To successfully complete a livestock bill of sale, the document must detail what kind of animal(s) are being sold and any distinguishing features that may need to be registered. It must describe the coloration of the animals as well as any branded markings that indicate ownership.
In order to make the sale final, the seller must also demonstrate that the livestock has had all the correct mandatory vaccinations by a veterinarian. It must also detail how the animal(s) will be transferred to their new owner.
Horse Bill of Sale
A horse bill of sale has many similarities with a livestock bill of sale although with some significant differences. The biggest variations are that veterinarian checks are optional and the document also allows the owner to transfer or maintain breeding rights over the horse.
Boat Bill of Sale
A boat bill of sale has many connections to other types of vehicle bills of sale. However, in this case, you will need to indicate the hull length, the type of motor the craft has (if any) as well as the Hull Identification Number (HIN) and registration.
As-Is Bill of Sale
An as-is bill of sale is used to sell a car, boat, or other item of personal property while providing no warranties. When using these form templates, the seller offers the buyer a “what you see is what you get” proposal on the property being sold, making no promises on its durability or functionality.
Using an as-is no warranty bill of sale might prove practical if the current owner is trying to sell an older or used vehicle in need of repairs in a private sale. This allows the buyer to get the vehicle for a lower price than they would through an auto dealer.
Trailer Bill of Sale
A trailer bill of sale is similar to a car and motorcycle bill of sale. The document will need to include the details of the buyer and seller, the date of sale, and a description of the trailer including its make, model, year, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Most jurisdictions do not require a notary acknowledgement or witness signature, but it can be necessary in some cases. However, if the trailer is used, the seller will have to clear and transfer the title before the buyer can submit a registration application.
In the majority of states, trailers must be registered within 5 to 30 days, or they will be considered illegal to operate on the road. To complete this registration, the bill of sale, title, sales tax, and registration application must be submitted to a local DMV.
How to Write a Bill of Sale
Writing a bill of sale is a focused yet undemanding task to complete. When you start building your own document to sell an item of property, you will need to complete the following steps.
1. Choose the Type of Document You’re Creating
Depending on whether you’re selling a car, motorcycle, trailer, or animal, you will need to adjust your document to reflect the nature of the item for sale.
If you’re creating your own document either with an online template or by yourself, make sure to either use the correct form for your needs or to add the necessary sections required.
2. Name Both the Buyer and Seller
Your document must include the details of both the buyer and seller. To do so you will need to include the names and addresses of both parties. If necessary you can add the information of any additional buyers and sellers if the item is or will be jointly owned.
3. Describe the Item Being Sold in Detail
The type of bill of sale for your item of property will normally require a description of various features to be provided. When creating an online bill of sale using a pre-prepared template, these will be necessary requirements to completing your document.
For example, if you’re selling a horse, you will need to provide its age, sex, breeding association certification (if any), and information on its coloration. You may also be asked to provide its stable name as well as its registered name.
4. Provide the Transactional Information
When you have described the item being sold, you will then need to explain the key details about the transaction. You must provide the method of payment, explain whether taxes apply to the final price and if the amount will be paid at once or in installments.
5. Make Any Warranties or Guarantees
You have the option to make warranties on your bill of sale. The property can either be sold “as is” with no warranties. If however, you do make a warranty on the item you can make a sworn statement that the item being sold is as described, is in full working order, and that it has no liens or encumbrances against it.
6. Explain How the Item Will be Transferred to the New Owner
A bill of sale will normally require the writer to detail where the item is being held prior to sale and where it can be collected from or how it can be transferred. In some cases however such as horses or livestock, you may need to provide the exact details of transportation.
7. Sign the Bill of Sale
When the form is completed and both the buyer and seller are satisfied with the terms of the agreement, the bill of sale can be signed. In some states, this will need to be notarized or witnessed for the document to be fully valid. From this moment on, it becomes legally binding.
Bill of Sale FAQs
If you’re having doubts about whether a bill of sale is right for your buying or selling needs we have the answers you’re looking for. Simply browse through our bill of sale FAQs below to learn more about this type of legal document.
Do I Need a Bill of Sale For My Car?
A bill of sale is a requirement in many states. Where this applies, the buyer and seller must create a bill of sale and complete a title transfer form in order for the sale of the vehicle to be fully valid and registered.
However, even when this is not a legal requirement of your state, it is sensible to complete a bill of sale when selling a car. This can help to avoid disputes over ownership further down the line.
What Makes a Bill of Sale Valid?
A bill of sale will normally have to contain the details of the buyer and seller, a description of the item for sale, the transactional information, any warranties permitted, and the signatures of both parties. In some states, you will also need a notary or witness signature for this document to final and binding.
Who Keeps the Bill of Sale?
The new owner of the property will normally keep the original copy of the bill of sale as proof of purchase. However, the seller can also keep a duplicate copy of the document for their item for their records and should they need to prove the sale is completed and final.
How Long Is a Bill of Sale Good For?
If it has been completed correctly a bill of sale can be valid permanently. However, if the item of property is resold and a new bill of sale is completed to reflect this, it will render the older document null and void.
Additionally, a bill of sale could be overturned if the transfer of ownership terms are breached, thus nullifying the sale agreement.