Whether you live in the Tidewater, Piedmont, Blue Ridge Mountain, Valley and Ridge or the Appalachian Plateau region of Virginia, if you are thinking about privately selling your used car or truck, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve outlined below the five steps and forms required for how to sell a car in the state of Virginia.
In Virginia, private vehicle owners can sell or display to sell up to five total vehicles over a 12 consecutive month time period. Any vehicles above five within that time period requires the seller to become a licensed an authorized dealer in Virginia. According to Virginia’s DMV, one out of every three car sales is between two private individuals, rather than between a buyer and an authorized automotive dealer. This is why hundreds of thousands of private vehicle owners from Virginia have used Autotrader to sell their car. 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 correction fluid like White Out may void the document so be careful and take your time filling it out.
Step 1: Organize and gather all related vehicle documentation
Step 2: Transfer the Title
Step 3: Remove the seller’s license plates from the vehicle
Step 4: Inform the Virginia DMV that you have sold, traded or donated the vehicle
Step 5: Cancel your insurance
Find all maintenance records, owner’s manual and other paperwork related to the vehicle.
If you have lost your title or had it stolen, you must first submit a Application for Replacement of Substitute Title form VSA 67. You must have a valid title to sell a vehicle in Virginia. If the owner of the vehicle is deceased, you’ll need a copy of the will and a certified death certificate in addition and a ‘Authority to Transfer Virginia Title Certification’ form VSA 24. If you are a joint owner with the right of survivorship and your co-owner is deceased, you may apply for a substitute title to remove the deceased owner’s name. Fees will apply depending on your situation.
Gasoline-powered passenger vehicles which are less than 25 years old before January 1 of the current calendar year or diesel-powered passenger vehicles which are 1997 or newer and that are registered in the northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park are required to have a valid emission inspection. Virginia law exempts vehicles which are manufactured in the current model year or any of the three immediately preceding model years from the biennial emission inspection. Most hybrid vehicles are exempt but all hybrids are subject to Virginia’s On-Road Emissions Program.
If there is more than one seller named on the title and their names are separated by “or” then only one of the sellers needs to sign vehicle title in order to transfer it to the buyer. If there is more than one seller named on the title and their names are separated by “and” or “and/or” then both sellers need to sign the title before it is transferred to the buyer. If nothing separates the owner names, both must sign. The same applies to multiple buyers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) odometer disclosure requirements were updated in December 2020 impacting certain private vehicle sales in Virginia: For a vehicle transfer that occurs from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2030, any vehicle of model year 2011 or newer (2012, 2013, etc.) will require an odometer disclosure. Starting on January 1, 2031, any vehicle that is less than 20 model years old will require an odometer disclosure. Previously, the NHTSA required disclosure was for only the first 10 years. Cars older than 2010 are exempt from odometer disclosures. Virginia's DMV provides this odometer disclosure form on their website.
In section ‘A’ on the front of the title, sign your name, provide the name and address of the buyer and document the odometer reading of the vehicle on the date of the sale. If the vehicle is being sold, include the final sales price in section ‘A’. If the vehicle is being donated, write the words “charitable gift” as the sale price on the title. Ensure that the buyer completes the title with their signature. The buyer and seller must both attest to the final sales price for any vehicle which is more than 5 years old using the Vehicle Price Certification (Bill of Sale) form. Legally, you can even have a hand-written bill of sale in Virginia if it contains the same information. Many sellers and buyers notarize the Bill of Sale. If the vehicle is 5 years old or less and the sales price is more than $1,500 below the Blue Book trade-in value, you’ll need to fill out an Affidavit of Vehicle Purchase Price, form SUT 1A. This form must be notarized.
The seller keeps the license plate of the sold vehicle in Virginia. If you purchased a replacement vehicle, you may transfer your old plate to the replacement vehicle. If the plates are not transferred to another vehicle, you may return the plate to any Virginia DMV location. If you have six months or more remaining in your vehicle registration period, you may qualify for a refund by completing Application for Vehicle Registration Refund Form FMS-210.
Inform your insurance carrier that the vehicle has been sold, traded or donated. If you purchased a replacement vehicle, you may transfer insurance coverage to the new vehicle by provided the required information to the insurance company. You must obtain liability insurance for the replacement vehicle before you register it with the Virginia DMV and transfer the old plates or purchase new plates for it.
It is important to remember insurance companies notify the Virginia DMV whenever a vehicle’s insurance is cancelled, added or changed. If you don’t notify the DMV first that you no longer own the vehicle and your insurance company cancels liability coverage, the DMV will show the registered vehicle in your name is uninsured. Since it is illegal to have an uninsured registered vehicle, the Virginia DMW may suspend your driver’s license and vehicle registration privileges.
For more information, visit the Virginia DMV’s website.
Legally, the Virginia DMV does not require private sellers to have a bill of sale, but most private sellers use one as a best practice. It wouldn’t hurt to have such document notarized as well.
No, it is not required to sell the vehicle, however a valid emissions report is required to register the vehicle in one of the five northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park.
Yes. License plates stay with the seller. If you purchased a replacement vehicle, you may transfer your old plate to the replacement vehicle. If the plates are not transferred to another vehicle, you may return the plate to the Virginia DMV.
Virginia doesn’t require a formal bill of sale for private owner vehicle transactions, but they do have the following requirement depending on the age of the vehicle being sold. One or the other applies:
No. A notary does not have to witness the buyer and the seller signing the vehicle title for any in-state private party transfer.