Selling a Car in Virginia

When you’re selling a vehicle in Virginia, there are some requirements that you meet. We’ve collected the appropriate information here on these requirements so you can know what it takes to have a smooth vehicle sale in the state.

1. Title Information

You can only sell a vehicle in Virginia 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 the lien, one of two things will occur. If the lienholder is part of the Electronic Lien Program (ELP), they will submit the lien release electronically and you will get a title mailed to you. If they are not part of the program, you will contact them so they can send you a lien release directly. You will then submit the forms to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and it will issue you a new title without the lien. 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 from the 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. Your signature and the buyer’s signature will both be necessary and must be notarized.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

Virginia requires a Bill of Sale for any vehicle sale. You should make certain that the Bill of Sale includes the following information:

  • 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 the vehicle you are selling is five years old or older, instead of a Bill of Sale you need to fill out the Supplemental Information for Procurement of Title.

3. Inspections

Certain Virginia counties require emissions inspections. These counties include Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford. The cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park also require emissions inspections.

If you are selling a vehicle that is two years old or newer, or that is older than 25 years old, it will be exempt from emissions testing. Fully electric vehicles also are exempt, as are some hybrids. All other vehicles must be tested every two years. It is your responsibility to make certain that your vehicle’s emissions test is current.

Testing is done at official emissions stations.

4. License Plates

In Virginia, when you sell a vehicle, the license plates stay with you and not with the vehicle. You will need to take the plates off the vehicle before the sale is complete. However, you are not allowed to keep them. You must surrender them to the DMV office within 10 days to notify the state that you have sold the vehicle and to protect you from liability.

5. Odometer Disclosure Requirements

Virginia 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 fill in the appropriate space on the title when you transfer it to the buyer. You can also fill out the official Virginia Odometer Disclosure form if you would prefer.

6. Other Information

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