If you want to sell your car, there are things you can do to avoid problems later, like getting tickets that aren’t yours or getting sued for accidents you weren’t a part of. Try to do the things in the fact sheet to keep yourself safe.
Always write out an agreement. This way you can make sure that you and the person buying your car agree on the price and the condition of the car. Both of you should sign the written agreement and keep a copy. The agreement should have:
Your name as seller
the name of the person buying the car
the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
the license plate number
how much you’re selling the car for
the condition of the car – usually you sell a car “as-is”
the date of sale
who pays for the motor vehicle transfer fees and taxes
A “warranty” is a promise about the condition of the car on the day it is sold. If you don’t want to be responsible for repairs or problems with the car later, tell the buyer you are selling it “as-is.” Put this in the written agreement too.
Ask the buyer to pay you all of the money in cash, money order or a cashier’s check from the bank. Don’t hand over the title or give them the keys until you have the money. Don’t take a personal check because it could bounce, or they could cancel the check before you get the money.
Don’t take someone’s word that they promise to pay for the car by making monthly or periodic payments. If you agree to accept a payment plan from the buyer, get the payment plan in writing and make sure the agreement says what happens to the car and the money already paid if the buyer fails to make all of the payments. Even with an agreement, it can be hard, expensive, and time consuming to take someone to court to try to get money they owe you if they don’t pay. Many people who win cases in court are never able to collect the money.
Most people get the money, sign the title over and tear off and send in the “Notice of Sale” strip on the bottom of the title. This means you are leaving the actual transfer up to the buyer. This can be ok if everyone does what they are supposed to do. BUT many times, they don’t! And you end up with fines or legal problems or more.
Tearing off the Notice of Sale is not a transfer of title. If you want to be completely safe and sure that everything is right, you and the buyer should go to a Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) location together and do the transfer there in person. It is worth making the extra effort to go in-person and avoid legal and other problems later on, like fines or getting sued.
If you lost the original title, you have to apply for a duplicate title before it can be transferred to a new owner. Find out from your DVS office how long this might take. If you do it in person, it might only take a day or two.
Once you are at the DVS office, you need to sign over the original title to the buyer and fill out the other needed information. You and the buyer also need to fill out an Application to Title/Register a Vehicle form. You can find the form online or get it at the office. You may need to know the car’s odometer reading so write that down before going in. You might also need to disclose damage previously done to the car. If a lien is listed on the title for the car you have to have a lien release card or notarized lien release in order to transfer title to the buyer.
Submit all the papers and fees together. This way you can be sure that it is done.
Reporting the sale of a car is not the same thing as transferring the title. If you transfer the title in person, you are also automatically reporting the sale of the car. If you give the title to the buyer and don’t go to DVS to do the paperwork, you need to report the sale of the car within 10 days. Note: If you sell to a dealership you don’t have to report the sale.
Click on "Driver and Vehicle Services" on the drop down
Scroll down and under "Services" click on "Transfer Vehicle Title"
Click on "Report Sale of a Vehicle"
By Mail: Fill out the “Notice of Sale” strip at the bottom of your title. Make sure you write in the buyer’s name, address, and driver's license number, if any, and the date of sale. Tear it off, and mail it to DVS at:
Driver and Vehicle Services – Central Office
Town Square Building
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 168
Saint Paul, MN 55101-5168
If the car is donated or junked, also report that to DVS.