How to Sell a Car in California

If you sell your car before, then you know the procedure of selling a car in California. If you don’t know how to sell a car in California, then it will be difficult for you to sell it.

To sell a car, you need to follow local rules and regulations. This guide makes it easy for you to sell a vehicle in CA by describing what documents you need.

So, let’s get started right here.

How to sell a car in California?

If you want to sell a car in CA privately, then you should collect the following documents.


At first, what you need to collect is the certificate of title provided by the DMV. It is the paper that proves you are the owner of the car. Without it, you can’t sell your vehicle in CA.

If you don’t this document, you should fill out an application to get the Duplicate Title for selling your car. To get more information on it, you can visit the official website of DMV.

Smog Certificate

You don’t need to collect this certificate if the age of your vehicle is less than three-four years. However, if you drive your car using diesel, then you need this document.

At the same time, if you renew your car registration after expiring the date and submit for smog certification, then you don’t need this.

Otherwise, you need to fill-up the form for smog certification by visiting BMV if you don’t have this paper.

Release of liability

California’s release of liability is another important paper you need to collect. This piece of paper lets you inform that you are no longer the owner of your vehicle and don’t responsible for an accident that occurred by the car.

If you don’t collect this paper, then you need to be accountable for any issue. So, collect this crucial document from DMV and fill out this form.

What you need to complete this form is license plate number, the last five numbers of VIN, and the address of the new owner.

Use odometer

It is a device that lets you know how many miles you drive your car. Following this process, you can easily sell your car in CA. You need to be careful when you fill-up the form.

If you make any mistake, then you need to fill up a ton of additional papers. Also, the title certificate is a crucial paper.

If you lost this document or someone stole, you can encounter a lot of problems.

For example, someone could use this certificate to sign up to get ownership by his name. So, keep this paper in a safe place.

What documents do I need to sell my car in California?

You need to collect the following documents to sell your car in CA. Without them, you can’t sell your vehicle.
Here what the documents you need:

  • Title
  • Ownership’s release
  • Liabilities release
  • Smog certificate
  • Odometer reading
  • Sale’s Bill
  • Warranty card if there has a valid one

What do you need to do when you sell a car in California?

To sell a car in California, you need to contact DMV first to get a car transfer form. You will get this paper from DMV through email.

In other words, DMV sends you the transfer from through email. Also, you can request them to send a duplicate title form if you don’t have the title. Then, you should test the car for smog certification for selling your car.

Do I need to go to DMV to sell my car?

Fortunately, you don’t need to go to DMV to sell your car. You can do everything and collect any essential documents from the official website of DMV.

If you sell your car in cash and the person who will buy your vehicle looks untrusty, then you should go to the DMV.

It is because every person wants to get a new registration card, car insurance, and so on. But a shady man doesn’t care about anything and avoid personal responsibilities.

However, you should fill-up the form you get from the DMV and send it back to them after filling the paper.

Who is responsible for smog when selling a car?

Obviously, the seller of the car is responsible for smog when selling a car. According to the California Car Code of section Section 24007 (b)(2), a seller must provide a valid smog certificate before or after selling a car.

If the seller doesn’t provide you the smog certificate, then it maybe he doesn’t care about it. So, it is better to contact the seller and explain to him if he doesn’t provide you the smog certificate.

Otherwise, you need to go to court to handle this matter. Unfortunately, the DMV doesn’t provide any solution to this.

Is a bill of sale required in California?

According to California State LAW, it is not mandatory to have a bill of sale. However, we recommend you to get this document to avoid any complication.

Without proof of sale, the new owner who buys the car from you is not considered the owner until he transfers the title after his name. So, it is crucial both for the seller and buyer to take a copy of the bill of sale.


If you are an inhabitant of California and want to sell your car, then this guide helps you a lot. Before selling your car, you should collect all the essential documents we listed above.

For your convenience, we describe here again what papers you need to collect.

  • Title
  • Smog Certification
  • Release of liability
  • Release of ownership
  • Bill of sale
  • Collect valid warranty card
  • Odometer reading

How do I fill out a bill of sale in California?

  • Include the VIN
  • Include plate license number
  • Include both buyer and seller information
  • Include the date of sale
  • Include selling price in dollar and cent
  • Get a copy of bill sale


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