Selling a Car in Ohio

When you’re selling a vehicle in Ohio, there are some requirements you must meet. We’ve collected the appropriate information here on these requirements you can have what you need to get ready for a problem-free vehicle sale in the state.

1. Title Information

It’s important to note that in Ohio, titles, lien releases and most other documents necessary for selling a vehicle are all done by county Title Offices, not the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Unfortunately, that means most documents can only be obtained in person (and not online).

In Ohio, you can only sell a vehicle 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. 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 to your local county Title Office. You will not be able to sell the vehicle until the lien release has been accepted by the Title Office.

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 your local county Title Office. 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.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

Ohio requires a Bill of Sale for any vehicle sale. Make sure the Bill of Sale includes the following:

  • 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

3. Inspections

Ohio has required emission tests for vehicles registered in seven counties within the state. Within those seven counties, vehicles are tested biannually, with even-numbered-year model vehicles being tested in even-numbered years and odd-numbered-year ones being tested in odd-numbered years.

If you are selling a vehicle less than five years old, it will be exempt. Vehicles that are 26 years old or older are also exempt, as are fully electric vehicles. Emission testing must be done at a licensed Emission Inspection Station.

You are responsible for making certain that the emission certificate for your vehicle is current before you sell the vehicle.

4. License Plates

In Ohio, when you sell a vehicle, the license plates stay with you, not with the vehicle. Transferring the plates is entirely legal within the state and is possible as long as the new vehicle is registered in the same name as the plates. If you are not going to transfer the plates to a new vehicle, make sure you return them to a BMV 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 Requirements

Ohio requires you to formally disclose the vehicle odometer reading when you sell a vehicle that is 10 years old or newer. Filling out the odometer section on the title fulfills this requirement.

6. Other Information

If you have questions or want more details on vehicle selling, check out the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website.