How to Sell a Car in New York

March 28, 2012

Learn how to sell a car in NY the right way—with a bill of sale, a damage report, and sales tax added.

NY License Plate

Learning how to sell a car in New York can be more involved than doing so with other states. If you have a car you'd like to sell, it's not as straightforward as asking a price and finding someone who will pay that amount. Although they're close by, selling a car in Long Island is different from selling a car in New Jersey. If you're a resident of New York state, no matter if you're in Buffalo or Manhattan, don't forget about these essential taxes, fees and the paperwork that goes with them.

New York has a huge number of used car dealerships in comparison with many other states, which can work to your advantage. If you choose to sell your vehicle to a dealer, you'll have many options. If you'd rather sell your vehicle on your own, however, this can be harder. In order to effectively sell your car, you'll need to make sure it stands out.

After you have your vehicle assessed, consider how to present it in a unique way. Highlight important aspects of your car or features that are in excellent condition (i.e. low mileage, safety ratings, warranty remaining, etc.) Most importantly, however, is that you advertise the vehicle as thoroughly as possible. Place ads in local newspapers, online on sites like eBay and craigslist, and put posters and flyers up in legitimate places around your community. With some hard work and careful attention to legal proceedings, you'll be able to sell your car quickly.

Bill of Sale
Though some states do not require it (including New Jersey and Pennsylvania), the state of New York does require a bill of sale when a vehicle is being sold. It is probably the most important piece of paper that needs to exchange hands, as it is the form that proves the transaction took place. As the seller, this form verifies you no longer own the car and are no longer responsible for it. Note that the New York DMV does not accept copies, so make sure you do not lose the bill of sale.

Damage Report
In addition to the bill of sale (proof of purchase) you also have to provide the seller with the MV-103 Form, which is a damage report (if there is any) and an odometer reading. If you fail to provide this form at the point of sale or fill it in with false information, you could be subject to a large fine or even jail. This is part of the so-called "lemon law" to prevent people from knowingly selling faulty cars. The state of New York takes the law very seriously.

Sales Tax
Unfortunately, in the state of New York, sales tax is applicable on car sales. To calculate the sales tax you need to fill out Form DTF 802 which can be downloaded from the New York Unofficial DMV website. The sales tax is calculated using the location of the new owner's residence.

Buyer's Responsibility
Once you supply the proof of ownership, proof of sales tax payments and also the odometer/damage report, the responsibility then shifts to the vehicle's new owner. As a responsible seller, make sure your buyer knows they must register the car with the New York DMV and pay all fees involved. First is the registration fee, which is calculated depending on the weight of the vehicle. Then there's also a vehicle plate fee, a registration transfer fee and a title certificate fee.

Selling your car in New York doesn't have to cause a headache. Just as long as you ensure you have all of the paperwork in order and are clear as to what your responibility is and what is that of the buyer, you should have no problem completing the sale of your car.

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