Selling a Car in New York

When you’re selling a vehicle in New York, there are some requirements that you must adhere to. We’ve collected the appropriate information here about these requirements so you can know what is necessary for a smooth vehicle sale in the state.

1. Title Information

In New York, you can only sell a vehicle if you have total ownership of it. In other words, any “lien” (loan) on the vehicle must be paid off before you can sell the vehicle. If you have paid off a lien, double-check your title to make certain that the lien has been released. If not, have the lienholder submit a lien release form to the state. You will not be able to sell the vehicle until the lien release has been accepted by the state.

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 online from the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices. 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 are required by law to be notarized.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

New York requires you to submit a Bill of Sale if you sell a vehicle that does not have a title. If you need to make a Bill of Sale, be sure it includes these elements:

  • The new owner’s name
  • The full address of the new owner, which cannot be a P.O. box
  • The seller’s name
  • The full address of the seller, which cannot be a P.O. box
  • 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 signature of the seller
  • The signature of the buyer

Regardless of whether you are required to submit a Bill of Sale, however, upon selling your vehicle you must submit to the state a Statement of Transaction, which is a document that informs the state of the sale of the vehicle.

3. Inspections

New York requires both safety inspections and emission tests on most vehicles. Safety inspections are required every year for all vehicles and are done to check if the vehicles are safe to drive.

Emission tests are also required every year for most vehicles. If you are selling a vehicle less than two years old, it will be exempt from the emission tests. If you have bought a vehicle that is over 25 years old, is entirely electric or is registered with historical plates, it is also exempt. Otherwise, the emission test happens at the same time as the safety inspection.

You are responsible for making certain that the emissions certification and inspections are current before you sell your vehicle.

4. License Plates

In New York, when you sell a vehicle, the license plates stay with you and not with the vehicle. Transferring the plates is entirely legal within the state and is possible as long as you register the plates to a new vehicle within five days. If you are not going to transfer the plates to a new vehicle, make sure you return them to a DMV office before you cancel your insurance or you could face unintended fines or liability for the vehicle after you’ve sold it.

5. Odometer Disclosure Requirement

New York 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 either note the odometer reading in the title transfer section of the vehicle title or use a separate form from the state.

6. Other Information

If you have questions or want more details about anything having to do with vehicle selling, check out the website for the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.