Selling a Car in the District of Columbia

When you’re selling a vehicle in the District of Columbia, there are some requirements that you will need to meet. We’ve collected the appropriate information here about these requirements so you can be aware of what it will take for your vehicle sale to go without a hitch.

1. Title Information

You can only sell a vehicle in the District of Columbia if you have complete ownership of the vehicle. In other words, any “lien” (loan) on the vehicle must be paid off before you can sell the vehicle. In the District of Columbia, the vehicle owner receives the title even while a lien remains on the vehicle. If you have paid off the lien, you should have the lienholder send you a release on letterhead from the company. You can then submit the release and the title to the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to get a new title without the lien. You will not be able to sell the vehicle until you receive the new title.

You should also make certain that you have the actual title. If you cannot find the title, you’ll need to obtain a new title from the DMV. You will need the physical title so that you can transfer the title to the new buyer. Both the buyer and seller must fill out specific segments of the title. Your signature and the buyer’s signature are both necessary and must be notarized.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

The District of Columbia does not require a typical Bill of Sale when you sell a vehicle. However, it is in your best interest to fill out a form for your records that includes the following:

  • The new owner’s name
  • The full address of the new owner
  • The seller’s name
  • The full address of the seller
  • The date of the sale
  • The sale price
  • A full and detailed vehicle description
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The vehicle odometer reading at the time of sale
  • The signature of the seller
  • The signature of the buyer

3. Inspections

In the District of Columbia, an emission test is part of the biannual inspection that is required for vehicles before they can be registered. Because of the small size of the district, all inspections are done at a specific location. Vehicles that are brand-new and that still have their Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) do not require inspection for the first two years.

You are responsible for making certain that your vehicle has a current inspection on it before you sell the vehicle.

4. License Plates

In the District of Columbia, when you sell a vehicle, the license plates do not remain with you or the vehicle. Instead, when you sell a vehicle, you must surrender the plates to a DMV office within 10 days of the sale. Failing to do so can cause liability issues as well as fines.

5. Odometer Disclosure Requirements

The District of Columbia requires you to formally disclose the vehicle odometer reading when you sell a vehicle that is 10 years old or newer. To fulfill this requirement, you can fill in the appropriate space on the title when you transfer it to the buyer.

6. Other Information

If you have questions or want more details relating to vehicle selling, check out the website for the District of Columbia DMV.