How to Sell a Car in DC: State Laws, Paperwork, and Methods to Consider

January 27, 2012

In order to sell a car in DC, you should know the basics of transferring the title or your vehicle and registering the sale with the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When you sell a car in DC, Washington laws for transferring ownership of a car are about the same as they are in any other part of the country. So, to help make the task as easy as possible, here is a step by step guide on how to sell a used car in Washington, DC.

What You Will Need

  • Car to sell
  • District of Columbia certificate of title
  • Vehicle bill of sale

Step 1 - Find Your Car Title or Get Replacement

Look through your records and locate the original District of Columbia Certificate of Title for your vehicle. You should make sure that you have the title before you try to sell the car as most buyers won't deal with you unless you have the title in hand. If you can't find the title, go to the DMV and fill out an application for a duplicate title. Once you have the title for the car, you can proceed.

Step 2 - Wash Vehicle and Take Pictures

Take the time to wash and wax your vehicle so that it looks its best for prospective buyers. Then, take some pictures of the vehicle to use in advertising the vehicle. Good pictures of a clean vehicle can help you to get more for the car.

Step 3 - Advertise the Vehicle and Find a Buyer

In order to attract people that may be interested in buying your car, place an ad in the local newspaper's classified section or find a popular website that allows people to post cars for sale online. In order to determine a reasonable selling price for your car, consider visiting sites like the Kelley Blue Book Pricing Guide or the Edmunds Pricing Guide. These sites provide valuable market price information on almost any make and model vehicle available.

Step 4- The Buyer Needs a Bill of Sale

Download a template for a bill of sale from the Internet. You can use your favorite search engine to find one, and there are many sites that offer free templates for their visitors. Alternatively, you can create your own. If you do type up your own bill of sale, make sure that it includes the following data:

  • Seller's name and address
  • Buyer's name and address
  • VIN number and description of the vehicle being sold
  • Mileage reading on the odometer
  • Sales amount
  • Date of the sale

Step 5 - Give the Title to the New Owner

Before you give the title to the new owner of the vehicle, make sure you complete the transfer information on the back side of the title. Also, make sure that you sign the title so the buyer can easily have it transferred in his/her name at the DMV.

Step 6 - Notify the DMV of the Sale

Within a few days of the sale, visit the DMV and fill out the Notification of Sale form and give it to the clerk at the office. This will help you to avoid any liability from the new owner's use of the vehicle until the title for the vehicle is registered under his/her name.