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Virginia Selling a Vehicle

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All vehicles must be titled to show ownership and registered to drive them on public roads in Virginia. When you sell your titled and registered vehicle, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

What Are the Basics?

When you sell your vehicle, you need to remove the license plate and either transfer it to another vehicle that you own or return it to the Virginia DMV. The sale of a vehicle only requires you to complete the seller information on the title and provide a bill of sale for the transaction amount.

Whenever you sell a registered vehicle, you need to remove the license plate. The license plate does not transfer from seller to buyer. The plate only could transfer to another vehicle owned by the seller.

After you have sold or transferred the vehicle, you need to notify the DMV of the transaction. You can do that online, over the phone or in person at a Virginia DMV service center. If the registration has more than 6 months remaining, you can request a refund for a prorated amount.

You also need to notify your insurance company that you have sold the vehicle and either transfer insurance coverage to another vehicle or cancel it. You might be owed a refund on the premium.

How Do I Sign the Title?

The title has a location in Section A where you can sign your name and provide the name and address of the buyer. You also should fill out the odometer reading and provide a selling price in the respective locations in Section A. If you are donating the vehicle, you can write “Charitable Gift” in the location for the sale price.

What if I’ve Lost the Title?

If you have lost the title to a vehicle that you are selling, you can obtain a replacement title online right away or by visiting a DMV service center. You also can obtain a replacement title via mail, but that will take much longer to complete.

What Information Is Included in the Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale includes the name and address of the seller plus a location to describe the vehicle. It also includes a location to provide the name and address of the buyer, plus the sales amount.

Why Do I Need a Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale shows the DMV the selling price to help determine registration fees for the new owner. It also protects the seller against liability if the buyer does not title and register the vehicle properly and causes an accident or other incident.

Why Do I Need to Include the Odometer Reading?

The odometer reading helps to prevent fraud by showing the exact mileage when it is under 100,000 miles and the vehicle is sold to a new party.

May I Transfer Plates?

You cannot transfer license plates to the buyer. You can transfer plates to another vehicle that you own or must return the plates to the Virginia DMV.

What if I don’t Transfer Plates to a New Vehicle?

Unused license plates must be surrendered to the Virginia DMV at a local services center.

What if I am Giving the Car to Someone Rather than Selling It?

You can transfer the title and list the transaction price as a “gift” on the title and a bill or sale.

How Do I, as Executor, Transfer the Car to an Heir?

An estate executor has the legal power to sign a title transfer upon the death of the owner. The executor can sign the title transfer in the same manner as the named legal owner would.

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Last Verified:
Sep 13, 2022