Selling a Car in Wisconsin

When you’re selling a vehicle in Wisconsin, there are some requirements that you have to meet. We’ve collected the appropriate information here regarding these requirements so you can make sure your vehicle sale in the state goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Title Information

You can only sell a vehicle in Wisconsin 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. In Wisconsin, the lienholder retains the title until the lien is paid off. When you have paid off the lien, your lienholder should fill out a lien release and send you the title. You can then submit the release and the title to the state 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 replacement title from the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (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 also both necessary and must be notarized.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

Wisconsin does not require a Bill of Sale when you sell a vehicle but does suggest you make one for your records. You may either use an official state Bill of Sale form or make your own 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

Some Wisconsin counties require vehicle emission tests before renewing annual vehicle registrations. Those counties include Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington and Waukesha. Vehicles registered there must undergo an emission test before every registration.

Some vehicles are exempt, including vehicles built before 1996, electric and hybrid vehicles, and vehicles that do not have the appropriate equipment to be tested by the emission system. Most other vehicles are required to be tested at one of the official stations.

If you are selling a vehicle in one of the aforementioned counties, you are responsible for making certain that your vehicle’s emission test and registration are current.

4. License Plates

In Wisconsin, when you sell a vehicle, the license plates remain with you and not with the vehicle. You can transfer the plates to a new vehicle of the same class by filling out Section B of the Wisconsin Title and License Plate Application. If you don’t transfer the title to a new vehicle, you should return the plates to the DMV in order to avoid liability issues. Make sure you transfer or return the plates before you cancel your insurance.

5. Odometer Disclosure Requirements

Wisconsin requires people to formally disclose the vehicle odometer reading when they sell a vehicle that is 10 years old or newer. To fulfill this requirement, you must fill in the appropriate space on the title when you transfer it to the buyer. Warning: Wisconsin takes this requirement very seriously.

6. Other Information

If you have questions or want more details relating to vehicle selling, check out the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles website.