Whether you live in the Berkshires, Cape Code, Pioneer Valley or the Boston Metro area, if you are thinking about privately selling your used car or truck, you’ve come to the right place. With an estimated 2 million registered trucks and cars in the state of Massachusetts, it is no wonder that thousands of private car owners from the Commonwealth have used Autotrader to sell their car. Below, we’ve outlined the 5 steps required to sell a car in the state of Massachusetts. Remember, 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 White Out may void the document so be careful and take your time filling it out.
Step 1: Allow the buyer to have the car inspected by a third party
Step 2: Organize and gather all related vehicle documentation
Step 3: Bill of Sale
Step 4: Transfer the title
Step 5: Remove your license plates
Most vehicle shoppers who buy a car privately pay for a pre-purchase vehicle inspection conducted by a qualified and licensed auto mechanic of their choosing. Although the buyer pays for this inspection, the seller and buyer must agree on when and where the inspection is to be held. If the inspection does find any issues with the car, it is a good idea for you as the seller to keep the report for your records.
Find all maintenance records, owner’s manual and other paperwork related to the vehicle.
The existing safety and emission inspection report are not transferrable in Massachusetts since state law requires all used vehicles to be inspected within seven days of its registration after a change of ownership occurs. Read more frequently asked questions on Massachusetts inspections here.
A Bill of Sale should include the following information:
Having a Bill of Sale can be helpful if problems arise when the buyer goes to transfer the title or register the vehicle in their name. Many private owners notarize their Bill of Sale as a best practice.
If the vehicle’s title has been lost or stolen or badly damaged, you’ll need to apply for a replacement vehicle title and pay the associated fees prior to selling the car. If the vehicle’s owner has passed away, Massachusetts allows the surviving spouse, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate or a court appointed personal representative to transfer the certificate of title.
If you are unaware of the status of your Massachusetts vehicle’s certificate of title or accuracy of the lienholder information, you can check the vehicle status online here. You can give the original title and a lien holder release letter, which must be on the lienholder’s original letterhead (copies are not allowed).
To legally and properly transfer ownership of a vehicle title in Massachusetts, fill out the “Assignment of Title” on the back of the vehicle’s “Certificate of Title” with the following information:
The buyer will need to complete a Registration and Title Application. If ownership of the vehicle is changing or if an owner is added or deleted from a title, this is not considered a correction. It is a transfer of ownership and a new original title must be applied for. If the vehicle is being sold between family members (parent, sibling, spouse or child), a sales tax exemption form MVU-26 must be filled out. The exemption does not apply if transferred from a grandparent, cousin, uncle or aunt. If the vehicle is being gifted, the person gifting the vehicle must complete sales tax exemption form MVU-24.
Important: Cars purchased via a private party sale in Massachusetts are subject to the state’s vehicle Lemon Laws and may be able to be returned within 30 days if the buyer can prove the seller knew about the defect but didn’t disclose it.
Before you complete the sale, take your license plates off the vehicle. Unless the license plate is transferred to another vehicle, cancel your registration online or at a Massachusetts RMV office as soon as possible. Once a vehicle registration is cancelled, it cannot be driven on any public way in the state. License plates do not have to be returned to the RMV when a vehicle’s registration is cancelled but they must be either destroyed or recycled. To cancel a registration when there are two vehicle owners listed on the title, you must complete the Affidavit for Cancellation of Registration.
For more information, visit the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles’ website.
Yes. Unless the license plate is transferred to another vehicle, your license plates must be either destroyed or recycled. You do not have to turn your plates to your local Massachusetts RMV office.
A vehicle Bill of Sale is not legally required when transferring a vehicle between private individuals.
There are several documents which sellers of vehicles will need: