Selling a Car in Texas

When you’re selling a vehicle in Texas, there are some requirements that you must meet. We’ve collected the appropriate information here on these requirements so you can know what it will take for you to have a problem-free vehicle sale in the state.

1. Title Information

You can only sell a vehicle in Texas 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, the lienholder must send you a lien release and the title. You need to then take the release to a county tax office. You will not be able to sell the vehicle until the lien release has been accepted by the state. There is also an Electronic Lien Title program in Texas; if your lienholder is a member of the program, they will electronically submit the lien release. Until that happens, there is no paper title.

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 Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 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

Texas does not require a Bill of Sale for any vehicle sale. If you want to make one for your records, however, you should include 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.), plus the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The vehicle odometer reading at the time of sale
  • The signature of the seller
  • The signature of the buyer

If you cannot travel to the county tax office with the buyer to transfer the title, Texas has created the Vehicle Transfer Notification to help keep you safe from liability, so fill this out and send it in within 10 days.

3. Inspections

All vehicles in Texas, regardless of age, are required to have an annual safety inspection. When you have a vehicle to sell, remember that you are only exempt from the safety inspection for the first two years you own the vehicle. It is your responsibility to make certain the inspection is current before selling the vehicle.

Some areas of Texas also have emission testing as part of the safety inspection. You can look at a map online to see if your vehicle will receive an emission test. Vehicles that are over 25 years old are not required to have emission standards checked.

4. License Plates

In Texas, when you sell a vehicle, its license plates stay with you and not with the vehicle. Transferring the plates is entirely legal within the state 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 county tax 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

Texas requires people to formally disclose the vehicle odometer reading when they sell a vehicle that is 10 years old or newer. Entering the reading in the appropriate area on the title is sufficient to cover this requirement.

6. Other Information

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