Selling a Car in Massachusetts

When you’re selling a vehicle in Massachusetts, there are some state-specific requirements that you must abide by. We’ve collected the appropriate information on these requirements here so you can know exactly what you need to do in order to ensure a smooth vehicle sale.

1. Title Information

In Massachusetts, you can only sell a vehicle if you have full ownership of it. In other words, any “lien” (loan) on the vehicle must be paid off before you can sell the vehicle.

You should also make certain that you have the actual title. If you cannot find the title, you’ll need to request a replacement title from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). You will need the physical title so that you can fill out the necessary information for the buyer as proof of the transfer of the vehicle. Both your signature and the buyer’s signature will be necessary, and Massachusetts requires the signatures to be notarized. In Massachusetts, all vehicles made in 1980 or later require a title.

Also, Massachusetts has very strong consumer protection laws that you need to be aware of when selling a vehicle. The Used Car Warranty Law requires you as the current owner to inform a potential buyer of any mechanical defects on the vehicle before you sell it. The Lemon Aid Law allows a buyer to return a vehicle within seven days if it fails to pass inspection. So make certain that you repair your vehicle at least to the point where it can pass inspection, and make every effort to either fix any problems with the vehicle or make a list of remaining problems for potential buyers.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

Massachusetts requires a Bill of Sale for any sold vehicle. The Bill of Sale should include the following elements:

  • 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, including the vehicle’s make, model, year, series number (if applicable) and body type (2-door, 4-door, sedan, etc.), as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The vehicle odometer reading at the time of sale
  • The signatures of the seller and new owner

Be aware that Massachusetts bases the sales tax attached to any vehicle sale on the vehicle’s blue book value and not the purchase price listed on the Bill of Sale.

3. Inspections

Massachusetts requires yearly inspections on almost all vehicles. It also requires emission testing on most vehicles (with only vehicles made before 1983 being exempt). It is your responsibility as the seller to make certain that the inspection and emission certifications are up to date on the vehicle before you sell it.

4. License Plates

In Massachusetts, when you sell a vehicle, the license plates can stay with you rather than remain with the vehicle.  However, you only have seven days from the date you sell the vehicle to transfer the plates to a new car. You can check out online some FAQ on the penalties and requirements for transferring plates from one car to another.

If you do not transfer the plates, you need to return them to the RMV before you cancel your insurance on the old vehicle.

5. Odometer Disclosure Requirements

Massachusetts requires people to formally disclose their vehicle’s odometer reading when they sell the vehicle and it is 10 years old or newer. Filling out the odometer reading section of the title transfer form is sufficient to fulfill this requirement.

6. Other Information

If you have questions or want more details regarding vehicle selling, check out the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website.