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How to Sell a Car in Illinois


Whether you live in the city, Central Plains, the Shawnee Hills or other areas downstate, if you are thinking about privately selling your used car or truck, you’ve come to the right place. With an estimated 7 million registered trucks and cars in the state of Illinois, it is no wonder that thousands of private car owners from the Land of Lincoln have used Autotrader to sell their car. We’ve outlined below the 8 steps required to sell a car in the state of Illinois. Most U.S. states consider the vehicle title a legal document which is why it is advised to use the legal names (no nicknames) of both parties involved along with legible handwriting using a black or blue ink. Mistakes, errors and using cover up or correction fluid (like White Out) may void the document so be careful and take your time filling it out.


Step 1: Allow the Buyer to Have the Vehicle Inspected by a Third Party
Step 2: Clean Out the Vehicle
Step 3: Remove the License Plates
Step 4: Prepare Bills of Sale for Both Yourself and for the Buyer
Step 5: Collect Payment from the Seller
Step 6: Sign Over the Title
Step 7: Submit a Notice of Sale to the Illinois Vehicle Services Department
Step 8: Cancel any Insurance and Subscription Services Associated with the Vehicle



Step 1: Allow the Buyer to Have the Vehicle Inspected by a Third Party

Most potential buyers will want to have the vehicle inspected by a qualified and licensed auto mechanic of their choosing prior to purchasing. Although the buyer pays for this inspection, the seller and buyer must agree on when and where the inspection is to be held. It’s a good idea for you as the seller to keep the report for your records, especially if any issues with the vehicle are uncovered. Autotrader advises prospective buyers to get a mechanical inspection prior to purchase.

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Step 2: Clean Out the Vehicle

Assuming the buyer wants to move forward with the sale after having the vehicle inspected, it’s now time to clean it out. Remove all personal possessions, but be careful to leave anything in the vehicle that came with it; i.e. floor mats, cargo nets, cup holder liners, etc. This is also a good time to scan your garage for anything that originally came with the vehicle that you’ve since removed. Finally, remove all registration and insurance cards from the glovebox and keep them with you. In fact, if you want your car to sell quickly, we suggest cleaning it out before listing it for sale.

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Step 3: Remove the License Plates

Once you and the buyer meet to begin the transaction, the first thing for you to do is remove the license plates. Illinois license plates are tied to the vehicle owner, not the vehicle itself, and thus remain with the seller when the vehicle is sold. It’s illegal for the buyer to operate the vehicle with your license plates still attached.

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Step 4: Prepare Bills of Sale for Both Yourself and for the Buyer

Consider the bills of sale the receipt for the sale or purchase of the vehicle. As Illinois does not provide an official bill of sale, you’ll have to come up with your own, and there are a number of templates available online. Any bill of sale should include both the buyer’s and seller’s full name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and signatures, along with the vehicle’s make, model, year, color, VIN, and odometer readout at the time of sale. Be sure to also include the date of the transaction and the sale price.

While the buyer may bring their own bill of sale for you to fill out, it’s prudent to come to the table with two blank copies of your own bill of sale document ready to be filled out; one for you, and one for the buyer. After the transaction, keep your copy of your bill of sale in a safe place in case of unforeseen problems with the title transfer or vehicle registration after the sale. Information about the buyer included on the Bill of Sale is necessary for completing the Notice of Sale.

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Step 5: Collect Payment from the Seller

The step after this one involves signing over the title, after which it’s very difficult to reverse the sale. Therefore it’s best to collect payment from the seller at this time before going any further.

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Step 6: Sign Over the Title

At the time of the sale, you’ll be handing over the vehicle title to the buyer, but not before completing the ‘Assignment of Title’ section on the bottom. The Illinois state title requires you to enter the odometer readout, the buyer’s name, and the date. You’ll then sign your own name exactly how it appears on the title, and then print your name in the field to the right of your signature. Keep in mind that if the title lists more than one owner and uses the word ‘and’ to connect the two names, then both individuals listed will need to be present for the transfer to be valid. The buyer will then sign and print their name below the seller’s signature.

While a dealership selling a vehicle is responsible for sending the vehicle’s title, transfer, and sales tax to the Secretary of State’s office, in a vehicle sales transaction between two private parties, it is the buyer’s responsibility to have the title put in their name within 20 days of the transaction taking place. Therefore, as the seller, your responsibility with the title is to simply fill out the required fields and hand it over to the buyer; they’re responsible for the rest.

If you’ve lost your title or if it’s damaged beyond being usable, you’ll need to apply for a new one in order to be able to sell the vehicle. To do so, complete Illinois’ Application for Vehicle Transactions Form VSD 190, being sure to check the box for ‘Duplicate Title’ at the top of the form. You’ll then submit the form to the Illinois Secretary of State either in person at a branch facility, or by mail.

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Step 7: Submit a Notice of Sale to the Illinois Vehicle Services Department

To inform the state of Illinois that a transfer of the vehicle’s ownership is taking place, you must submit a Notice of Sale. This document is usually found attached to the bottom of the Illinois title, but if the title does not include a notice of sale form, you can download one here.

Information required on the seller’s Notice of Sale includes the name and contact information of both the seller and buyer, vehicle information, and the date of the sale. Only the seller has to sign the Notice of Sale form.

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Step 8: Cancel any Insurance and Subscription Services Associated with the Vehicle

Once the vehicle is out of your possession, update your insurance policy to reflect that you no longer own the vehicle. Additionally, remember to cancel any telematics, satellite radio, or internet subscriptions associated with the vehicle as well.

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For more information, refer to this document published by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, or visit CyberDriveIllinois.com.

<span class="text-size-300">Questions about selling your car in Illinois? We have answers.</span>

Do I remove my license plate when I sell a car in Illinois?

Yes. Illinois license plates are tied to the vehicle owner, not the vehicle itself. It’s illegal for the buyer to operate the vehicle with the seller’s license plates still attached.

Is a Bill of Sale legally required for selling a car in Illinois?

Technically, no. However, having a Bill of Sale is always a good idea as it protects both the seller and the buyer of the vehicle. Also, don’t confuse the Bill of Sale with a Notice of Sale, which all sellers of private vehicles are legally required to submit to Illinois’ Vehicle Services department.

Who pays sales tax when selling a car privately in Illinois?

Buyers must pay a transfer tax when they buy a car from a private seller in Illinois although this tax is lower when you buy from a private party than when you buy from a Dealer. This tax is paid directly to Illinois’ Department of Revenue.

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