How to Write a Bill of Sale

By: Kathryn Whitbourne  | 

bill of sale
Writing a bill of sale when selling a car is a good way to protect yourself. Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay

A bill of sale is a document that verifies your purchase of a valuable asset such as a car, a TV or other large item. The bill of sale may also be used to determine how much sales tax you pay. It also releases the seller from liability and protects both buyer and seller from any disputes that may arise over the item in the future. But be aware that the car title still needs to be transferred to the new owner; the bill of sale is not enough to show ownership [source: DMV Guide]

Rules for bills of sale vary from state to state. Not all states require a bill of sale and some that do require the transaction to be notarized [source: NerdWallet]. Still, even if you're in a state that doesn't require it, it's a good idea to do it to prevent misunderstandings down the line.

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You may be able to get a bill of sale form from your local department of motor vehicles or from your county tax assessor-collector's office. You can also write out your own bill of sale.

When writing a bill of sale, be sure to include:

  • The seller's name and address
  • The buyer's name and address
  • A description of the item being sold, including serial numbers, identification numbers, make, model, size, color, design, any distinguishing marks, features or faults.
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate number (if you're writing it for a vehicle)
  • Current mileage
  • Special conditions to the sale (e.g. sold as is, with warranty, etc.)
  • The date of transaction
  • The previous owner (who sold it to the seller)
  • The selling price (written in words and in numerals)
  • The method of payment (i.e. in installments or in full, cash, check, credit card or bank deposit)
  • Any agreements regarding due dates for pending payments, late payments and interest rates

Check your bill of sale for the following:

  • Make sure the bill of sale is legible.
  • Double-check all information and signatures on the bill of sale.
  • Make copies of the bill of sale for the buyer and seller.

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Originally Published: Apr 20, 2011

Bill Of Sale FAQ

Can I handwrite a bill of sale?
Some states require a bill of sale while others don't. If your state does not provide a bill of sale form, you can handwrite one yourself. If the document includes all the necessary aspects of a bill of sale and is signed by both parties as well as a notary, it's legally valid.
How do you write a bill of sale?
When you write a bill of sale, you include both the seller and buyer's name and address, a complete description of the sold item, the vehicle's identification number, conditions, date, amount paid, previous owner, method of payment and any other agreements between the buyer and seller.
What is a bill of sale?
A bill of sale is a document that serves as proof of purchase and sale, as well as the subsequent legal ownership of an item. It may be later used to determine how much sales tax you owe. It is most often used for the purchase of a large item like a vehicle.
Is a bill of sale the same as a title?
A bill of sale is a document that proves your ownership of a purchased item. While it is not the same as a title, it can be used to obtain a vehicle's title from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Is a bill of sale a legal document?
A bill of sale is a legal document that is used to record the transfer of ownership of a purchased item to the buyer in exchange for money. This legal document provides protection to both the buyer and the seller if any disagreement arises in the future.

Lots More Information

  • DMV.org. "DMV Requirements." (July 15, 2021) https://www.dmv.org/bill-of-sale.php
  • Reed, Phillip. "How to Write a Bill of Sale for a Car." NerdWallet. Nov. 9, 2017 (July 15, 2021) https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/auto-loans/how-to-write-a-bill-of-sale-for-a-car

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