A bill of sale is an important legal document used to record the details of a private transaction between yourself and another person or entity (“Buyer” and “Seller”) and serves as a proof of purchase. This form is similar to a receipt or a stub but can also contain additional terms just like a purchase agreement.
We provide fillable bill of sale templates for any type of property and for every US state. They are readily available for download via the links under the “Types” and “State” sections below. You can also try our document builder and create a custom bill of sale in a step-by-step fashion.
This article contains a comprehensive guide on many aspects of using bill of sale forms. That includes the basic terms, an extended definition, standardized form types, and a detailed template completion process. If you want to find out more about all the relevant aspects, we invite you to continue reading and watch our video guide below.
If you are not interested in learning more about this form, you can jump straight to the creation process by clicking the “Create My Document” button or downloading one of our free fillable templates in PDF and creating your own document.
A bill of sale is a relatively simple legal form that functions as a receipt and is used to document a sales transaction. It serves as proof that an item was passed from one party(seller) to another (buyer). A bill of sale contains all of the essential information about the sale and the condition of the personal property being sold and is usually used in car, motorcycle, watercraft, and gun deals.
Obtaining this document is often required during vehicle registration and title transfer.
After you complete a bill of sale, make sure both parties involved sign the form and keep its copy to protect the buyer and seller from legal claims by either side.
As-Is – This term is used in most bills of sale and means that the item is “sold or purchased from a private party in its current condition.” From the legal perspective, it implies that the buyer accepts and acknowledges any defects or faults of the item at the time of purchase and cannot use those against the seller in a lawsuit. An as-is bill of sale also protects the seller from being forced to refund the buyer for any defects, even if they are discovered after the purchase.
Buyer – the purchaser of a service or item.
Seller – the person or party who gives up an item or service for sale.
Gift – this is legally defined as giving something to a “buyer” without the expectation of any monetary compensation or consideration.
Payment – any legal method used to pay for an item or service in a transaction.
Notary public – a third-party public officer without any stake in the transaction who can confirm the legitimacy of the signatures for both the seller and buyer.
Trade-In – a transaction where a buyer offers an item to the seller for another item. The buyer’s item is considered the same in value or acts as a small discount for what the seller offers. As an example, a motor vehicle owner might decide to “trade-in” their used car for a slight discount on the vehicle owned by the seller or go for an equal exchange.
VIN – this is a Vehicle Identification Number, a 17-character code comprising letters and numbers that serves as a unique piece of identifying information for a vehicle. A VIN must be stated in any bill of sale form that involves a vehicle sales transaction.
The contents of a bill of sale can vary depending on the type of property you sell. The main property categories are vehicles, animals, and personal property.
Besides property, the contents of this document can change if the buyer wants to specify certain conditions regarding the method of payment or the item sold. You can learn more about this classification below.
A bill of sale is called absolute when the buyer pays the whole amount during the item transfer and there are no warranties or ownership conditions specified. Hence, after the transaction is over, neither party owes anything to one another.
Example: If you buy a used vehicle in “as-is” condition and pay for it fully during the vehicle transfer, the seller will draft an absolute bill of sale.
Every bill of sale form available here is considered absolute until you add some special instructions yourself, which can be done in any template we offer.
A bill of sale is called conditional if the seller includes any special conditions regarding the payment or ownership of the object being sold.
Example 1: You want to buy a used car and pay for it in installments. In such a case, you will have the right to own this car only if you pay off each installment according to the conditions written in the bill of sale. If you fail to meet these conditions, you might get the car removed from your physical possession.
Example 2: You want to buy a kitten, but the seller will give it to you only once it reaches the age of six months. You can fill out a bill of sale with such a condition beforehand and receive the kitten once this condition is met.
A bill of sale should be used by anyone looking to buy or sell any personal property of significant monetary worth, and especially if you don’t know the other participant of the deal very well (for instance, when buying or selling online). This document provides a layer of security for both parties of the transaction. Some cases of using a bill of sale form include:
There are cases when you don’t need to use a bill of sale, or when it is better to use a different document. Such instances include the following:
Business or stock sales. Selling a business is not the same as selling a car; it is usually much more complicated. Hence, we recommend using a business purchase agreement. It is much more flexible and provides more protection for both parties. And for stocks, you can use a stocks purchase agreement template.
Real estate sales. Selling a house or apartment generally involves a lot of paperwork, and a bill of sale won’t do for such a complex matter. In such a case, you would be better off creating a real estate purchase agreement. This template covers most aspects of such a sale and can be supplemented by numerous addendum forms if needed.
Inexpensive things. You can create a bill of sale for any personal property transaction, but for many people, selling a toaster or an old carpet isn’t worth dealing with additional paperwork.
It’s essential to provide accurate and comprehensive details in a bill of sale for it to be fully valid and useful to both parties. That way, it will serve as solid evidence to prove ownership transfer and as a reliable legal instrument should a dispute arise. Therefore, if you are thinking about drafting a bill of sale form yourself, it is recommended to include the following:
1) Parties’ details. First of all, you should identify the parties of the deal—the buyer and seller. It’s necessary to indicate the full name and address of each person involved. Keep in mind that there can be more than one buyer or seller in case the object sold is or will be owned jointly. You should also include emails and phone numbers for easier communication in the future if such is needed.
2) Property details. It’s important to identify the property that’s being sold. You will need to include a detailed description of the item and its serial number, if any. For a vehicle, such description would include at least the vehicle’s make, model, year of manufacturing, an MVR (motor vehicle report) including the odometer disclosure, and a vehicle identification number (VIN).
3) Purchase price and method. The amount of money paid for the property and the payment method are also required to be in your bill of sale. Any encumbrances, such as liens or loans on the vehicle’s title, should also be mentioned in the document. It is also a good idea to mention if the sales tax is included in the purchase price.
4) Warranties and representations. If there are any warranties or representations from the seller, they all need to be described in the bill of sale. If there are no warranties, the document should state that the property is sold “as-is,” without warranties.
5) Date and signatures. After you fill out a bill of sale, you will need to indicate the date of the transaction and sign the document. The buyer’s signature is not required, but it would be better if they also sign the form.
Programs like Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, or OpenDocument Text can let you edit and print out downloadable templates that you can use to create a bill of sale yourself by filling out the blanks. You can download our free template in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word (DOCX) format.
You can also create a personalized bill of sale with our document builder. You can start by clicking the “Create My Document” button.
Below are detailed instructions on how to write a bill of sale using our free printable template for a vehicle deal.
Start by typing in the transaction date and the full names, addresses, and contact details of the buyer and seller. The contact details are optional but recommended.
Write down the vehicle particulars, namely, its make, model, body type, color, year of manufacturing, odometer reading, and 17-character vehicle identification number (VIN). All this serves as crucial information to identify a specific vehicle.
Proceed with the transaction type: choose whether it is a full payment, payment in parts, trade-in, or gift. In case it’s not a trade or a gift, you need to specify the total purchase price of the vehicle and how the buyer will pay this amount: cash, check, money order, etc.
Out bill of sale template provides an option to pay in parts in case the buyer doesn’t have enough funds. If want to go with it, choose the amount of the first payment (deposit) needed and the date by which the buyer must pay the rest.
A promissory note for a car might be a better choice for a vehicle purchase that involves installments as it offers more legal protection. Please check it out first if you are considering this payment method.
If you are trading, you will have to provide describe the trade-in vehicle offered by the buyer. It includes all the details we described in the previous step.
The first checkbox states that the municipal, county, state, and sales tax related to the item or motor vehicle are included in the purchase price. Taxes may not apply if the deal concerns a different kind of personal property.
If you tick the second one, it will indicate that the buyer is obligated to pay all related taxes themselves.
It is wise to leave an additional spot open for any applicable terms and conditions. For instance, if it is a car bill of sale document and the vehicle being traded includes the floor mats or other accessories, leave space for specifying this below the VIN and taxes information.
Every motor vehicle bill of sale requires the Odometer Disclosure Statement, which is included in our template. This confirms that both the buyer and seller knew what the vehicle’s actual mileage was at the time of the transaction. The first three steps are simple:
Then, you need to choose one of the three statements:
The second option implies that the reading rolled over the 99,999 miles mark on a five-digit odometer or the 999,999 miles mark on a six-digit odometer.
Option three means the rightful owner of the vehicle doesn’t know if the mileage is correct because the odometer has been replaced or broken.
Our template includes a Certificate of Acknowledgement at the bottom of the document. This part should be filled out by a notary public present during the item transfer or document signing.
It is also recommended for both parties to keep a copy of the finalized bill of sale for any future procedures that might need it.
A bill of sale form is not a document that transfers ownership, legally speaking. Instead, it records the ownership transaction and the agreement involving both parties at the time of the deal. After the deal is complete, the seller should transfer the vehicle title to the buyer. That will transfer ownership of the vehicle to the purchaser. The new owner will then need to visit their local DMV office and provide the bill of sale, certificate of title, odometer disclosure statement, proof of car insurance, and driver’s license to register the newly bought vehicle. The fees and requirements might vary in different states. In some places, they also require an emissions test.
A bill of sale is closer to a sales agreement as it comes before the sale takes place and involves an immediate payment. The parties use it to establish the basic terms of the sale and to have it as an extra protection measure.
An invoice either implies that the seller issues credit on the account of the buyer or is presented to the buyer after they make a purchase. It also records transaction details and is usually used as an audit instrument.
A warranty deed is used when real estate is transferred from one participant of the deal to another. It cannot be used for any other transactions, unlike a bill of sale, which is used mostly for tangible property deals.
A bill of sale document is essentially a receipt with extra layers, while a sales contract is a complex contract that lets you begin negotiations for a deal. You can spell out the details of the transaction including the purchase price, quality, or quantity of a product or service.
Creating a bill of sale is recommended for transferring expensive items to protect both the buyer and the seller from legal issues. Without such a record of the ownership transaction, there is no transaction record either party could use for tax purposes or in case a dispute arises. One of such disputes might be caused by the condition of the sold object. This is where the “no warranty” clause that’s usually present in a bill of sale can help the seller resolve the issue. Furthermore, a bill of sale is often required to register a vehicle.
Yes, a bill of sale is a legal document when executed correctly, especially if notarized. But, its enforceability depends on the clauses you include in the document. You can read our article on this matter: How Binding Can a Bill of Sale Be?
The buyer keeps the signed bill of sale’s original copy since it’s required during the title transfer when registering a vehicle. The seller should keep a copy for their own records.
As noted before, a bill of sale doesn’t transfer ownership or any legal rights but is used only to document a sales transaction. To make sure the bill of sale you create will serve its purpose well, it must contain the details by which it is possible to identify the parties involved in the transaction and the property sold. It gains even more legal importance if both the seller and buyer sign it in front of a notary public.
Yes, although it depends on your jurisdiction. Georgia, for example, allows you to register your vehicle as long as you have a bill of sale.
The state requirements will vary, but in general, you can bring your filled-out bill of sale form and other documentation to your local DMV. After that, you will be sent a letter telling you the amount of your new vehicle’s surety bond, which you will then buy from an insurance provider approved by the DMV. This bond makes sure that the motor vehicle doesn’t have any problems or liens to let you be registered as the new owner.
After purchasing the surety bond, you may then apply for a bonded title, which will list you as the legal owner of the motor vehicle. We have a separate article that explains it in more detail: Obtaining a Vehicle Title with a Bill of Sale.