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Washington Selling a Vehicle

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The Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) requires title transfers and new registrations whenever vehicles transfer ownership and the buyer wants to drive it on public roads. When you sell a vehicle in Washington State, a properly performed property transfer protects you against potential liability and potential future owners against possible fraud.

What Are the Basics?

Whenever you sell, gift or donate a vehicle in Washington State, you need to file a Report of Sale with the DOL. The report tells the DOL that you no longer are the owner and identifies the buyer, which helps to protect you against possible liability if the vehicle is in an accident after you sell it. You also need to remove the license plate and return it to the DOL or transfer it to another vehicle that you own.

How Do I Sign the Title?

The title will have the appropriate location for you to print out your full name and then sign the title. You also should provide the odometer reading and selling price.

What if I’ve Lost the Title?

You can obtain a replacement title online or at a DOL service center. You must file an Affidavit of Loss form and pay a $35.50 to obtain a replacement title.

What Information is Included in the Bill of Sale?

The bill of sale will identify the seller, the buyer and the vehicle, including its VIN number and selling price. The selling price helps the state to determine the correct tax for the new owner to obtain a title and registration.

Why Do I Need to Include the Odometer reading?

The odometer reading helps to prevent fraud by showing the exact reading whenever the vehicle changed ownership and a new title is issued. You do not need to provide an odometer reading on vehicles that are more than 10 model years old. They already have bottomed out in price and likely have rolled over the odometers.

Why Do I Need a Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale helps the state to assess the proper use tax on the transaction. A bill of sale also helps to protect the seller against liability issues if the buyer does not immediately obtain a title and the vehicle is involved in an accident or used for criminal activity.

May I Transfer Plates?

You cannot transfer the license plate from the seller to the buyer. The seller could transfer the plate to another vehicle that he or she might own. Otherwise, the seller must surrender the plate to the DOL.

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

If you sell a vehicle that has a license plate and you do not transfer the plate to another vehicle, you need to surrender it. You can turn it in at a local DOL service center or mail it into the DOL.

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

When giving a vehicle to someone else, you still need to transfer the title and change the registration to reflect the new ownership. You need to provide a bill of sale so that the DOL can determine the correct among of use tax to charge for the title transfer. The new owner will have to obtain a title and registration.

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

A properly completed and filed Affidavit of Inheritance form ensures a transfer to an heir will conclude with no issues.

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Last Verified:
Sep 17, 2022