Selling a Car in Maryland

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When privately selling a vehicle in Maryland, it’s important to have the required documentation, get the vehicle inspected, report the sale, transfer the title, remove the plates, and cancel your insurance. 
It’s no secret that selling your car is a tedious task. However, the process can be relatively painless if you understand your state’s requirements. By following the rules and collecting the proper paperwork, you can guarantee that selling your vehicle will go smoothly. 
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What you need to sell a car in Maryland

The first step to selling a used car in Maryland is to gather all of the necessary documents. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) requires the following paperwork when changing ownership:
  • Certificate of title (if lost or damaged, you can apply for a duplicate title online, in-person at an MVA KIOSK, or by mail with Form VR-018)
  • Your signature
  • Signature of any lienholder(s)
  • Signature of the buyer
  • Odometer disclosure
  • Maryland Notice of Security Interest Filing (Form VR-217) or a letter of lien release

Getting a pre-sale inspection

To sell a car in Maryland, the seller is required to have the vehicle inspected by a licensed Maryland inspection station. Approved locations include:
  • Auto dealers
  • Service stations
  • Specialized auto service centers
If your vehicle passes the inspection, you will be issued a “Maryland Safety Inspection Certificate” that is valid for 90 days. 
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Documenting the sale

A bill of sale is usually not necessary in Maryland. The only time it is required is when the title doesn’t include the vehicle’s purchase price. In this case, the bill of sale should document the following:
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Make, model, and year
  • Amount of sale
  • Seller name, address, and notarized signature
  • Buyer name, address, and notarized signature
  • Odometer disclosure statement (required for vehicles with a model year of 2011 or newer—file Form VR-197)
You can download the Maryland bill of sale here

Signing the title over

On the back of the Certificate of Title, the seller must sign and print their name and the buyer’s name and address under the “Assignment of Ownership” section. Without the buyer’s name and address in this section, the title will be considered “open” and the MVA won’t register the vehicle. 
Both parties also need to include the following information on the back of the title:
  • Legal name
  • Address
  • Signature 
  • Date of sale
  • Purchase price (if there’s space)
  • Odometer reading
In the event there is more than one owner and the names are joined by “and,” both people must sign the title. If the names are joined by “or” or “and/or,” only one person has to sign.

Reporting the sale

To prove that the vehicle being sold has been paid off, you will need to fill out a “Notice of Security Interest Filing” (Form VR-217). This is sent to the owner’s financial institution once the final payment is received. 
In cases where the document isn’t available, you’ll need to request a signed letter on the financial institution’s letterhead stating that they hold no security interest. This letter should include the:
  • Date of the loan’s creation
  • Amount
  • Date of release
  • Name/address of the debtor 
  • Vehicle description (year, make, and VIN)

Removing the plates

You must remove the vehicle’s license plates before transferring ownership. If you don’t, you could be held responsible for the buyer’s actions once the car has left your possession. You can either transfer your plates to another car or return them directly to the MVA. 
Maryland law requires you to complete this step before canceling your insurance. 

Canceling your insurance 

The last step to privately selling a car in Maryland is to cancel your car insurance.
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A notarized bill of sale is required in instances where the vehicle’s sale price is less than its book value, and if the vehicle is seven years old or newer.

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