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Washington D.C. Selling a Vehicle

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When you sell, donate or give a vehicle to another person or party, you need to transfer the title so that the new owner can title and register it. The license plate and registration do not transfer to the new owner, and you might be due a refund on the balance of the registration fees paid.

What Are the Basics?

When you sell a vehicle that is titled and registered in the District of Columbia, you need to transfer the title to the new owner. You also need to remove the license plate and notify the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV) so that you can cancel the registration. A bill of sale also helps the DC DMV to determine the tax owed by the new owner and protects you against potential liability if the new owner does not title and register the vehicle properly and causes an accident or other event.

How Do I Sign the Title?

The title provides the seller with a location to print and sign his or her name along with the transaction date. You will need to provide an odometer reading if there are less than 100,000 miles on it or check the box saying the odometer reading no longer is accurate because it has rolled over the 100,000-mile mark. You also should list the selling price.

What if I’ve Lost the Title?

You can obtain a duplicate title online quickly and affordably if you have lost the original title. You will need to provide vehicle information, including the VIN number and pay the fee with a credit card or debit card. The DC DMV will enable you to download and print a valid title.

What Information Is Included in the Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale will include the names of the seller and buyer, the vehicle’s make, model and model year, and the transaction amount. It also will provide a location to date the transaction and places for the seller and buyer to sign their respective names.

Why Do I Need a Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale protects sellers against potential liability if the vehicle is involved in an accident or used for criminal activity and the new owner did not transfer the title or register the vehicle. The bill of sale also helps the DC DMV to collect the proper tax amount.

May I Transfer Plates?

You do not transfer license plate to the buyer. You must remove the license plate and either transfer it to another vehicle that you own or return it to the DC DMV. You can drop off a license plate at one of the four DC DMV service centers.

What if I Don’t Transfer Plates to Another Vehicle?

If you do not transfer the plate to another vehicle, you must return it to the DMV.

What if I Am Giving the Car to Someone Rather Than Selling It?

A gift still requires a title transfer and bill of sale notifying the DC DMV that the vehicle is a gift. The DMV will charge the appropriate tax and registration fees.

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

An estate executor can sign and transfer a vehicle title in the same manner that the property owner would if still alive. The new owner or owners must apply for the title and registration.

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Last Verified:
Sep 13, 2022