Whether you live in Northern, Northeast, West Central, South Central, or Southeast Wisconsin, if you are thinking about privately selling your used car or truck, you’ve come to the right place. With an estimated 2.5 million registered trucks and cars in the state of Wisconsin, it’s no wonder that thousands of private vehicle sellers from the Badger State have used Autotrader to sell their car. Below, we’ve outlined the five steps and required forms for how to sell a car in the state of Wisconsin so you can sell your car quickly for the most cash.
Remember, most states consider the vehicle title a legal document, so the legal names (no nicknames) of both parties involved should be used, along with legible handwriting using black or blue ink. Mistakes, errors, and using White-Out may void the document so be careful and take your time filling it out.
The Wisconsin DOT has a very helpful document called Instructions for Selling a Vehicle (form MV2928) walking you through each step. At the bottom of the checklist, there’s a Buyer’s Acknowledgement of Delivery of Vehicle & Title that the buyer should fill out and sign for the you, the seller, to keep. This step is optional, but we recommend taking that extra step so that you, the seller, have evidence of sale and delivery of the vehicle to the buyer.
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: Transfer the title
Step 4: Remove your plates and cancel your insurance
Step 5: Report the sale
Many 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. Wisconsin does not require this inspection and doesn’t have any forms that need to be filled out, but it’s a good idea for the buyer to have the inspection performed prior to the purchase.
Find all maintenance records, the owner’s manual and other paperwork related to the vehicle. If you can provide the buyer with extensive and detailed maintenance records, this will help provide the buyer with confidence that you’ve maintained the car in a proper and regular manner. You may even want to consider including a vehicle history report from a service like CarFax or AutoCheck.
The most important document when selling a car in Wisconsin is the certificate of title. If there is a lien on the title, the lienholder must release interest in the vehicle before the car is sold. This can be achieved either by the seller paying off the car or by getting a lien release from the lienholder.
Some states require a bill of sale for a private vehicle transaction, but Wisconsin is not one of them. However, there’s a bill of sale on the bottom of the Instructions for Selling a Vehicle form which we recommend filling out and making a copy for both the buyer and the seller. This bill of sale does not need to be filed with the DMV, but it’s a good document to have to provide legal protection for both the buyer and the seller.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) odometer disclosure requirements were updated in December 2020 impacting certain private vehicle sales in Wisconsin: 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.
If the vehicle’s title has been lost, stolen or badly damaged, you can apply for a replacement/duplicate Wisconsin title online and receive your title in the mail within 7-10 business days of the online application being completed. You can also apply by mail with form MV2119. For both the online and mail-in options, there is a $20 fee to get a duplicate title.
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 buyer and the seller both need to fill out the relevant sections on the back of the title. This information includes the legal name, address, and signature of the buyer and the seller(s) along with the date of the sale, and the odometer reading. Make sure you fill out the odometer reading if the vehicle is less than 10 years old. When this is filled out accurately and legibly, it makes it easy for the buyer to transfer registration and acquire a new plate.
If you’re wondering about gifting a car to a relative, you can follow the same process that is outlined here to transfer the title. For inheriting a car, it’s mostly the same process, but you’ll need to file documentation of the inheritance with the county along with the title of the vehicle in question.
In Wisconsin, the seller must remove their license plates before handing the vehicle over to the buyer. If you do not do so, you may be liable for any violations after the buyer has taken possession of the vehicle. Make sure to cancel your insurance as soon as possible after you’ve removed your plates so you don’t continue paying to insure a car that you no longer own.
Wisconsin requires sellers to report the sale of a vehicle within 30 days of the date of sale. You can see the instructions on how to report the sale here and begin the seller notification here.
For more information, visit the Wisconsin DMV website. Wisconsin also provides this list of vehicle forms which you might find helpful.
For most private party car sales in Wisconsin, the only paperwork that is required is the certificate of title. The Wisconsin DOT’s Instructions for Selling a Vehicle (form MV2928) is very helpful and has a bill of sale attached to it, but it is not required.
No, a bill of sale is not required for private car sales in Wisconsin. However, it’s still a good idea to fill out the bill of sale on form MV2928 to give legal protection to both the buyer and the seller.
Yes, your license plate must be removed upon the sale of the car. You can keep or destroy the plates or you can transfer them to another car you own.
No. The seller and buyer do not need to complete and sign a bill of sale in front of a notary.
No. The vehicle title itself does not need to be signed by either the buyer or seller in front of a notary.
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