Selling a Car in Massachusetts

Selling a car in Massachusetts requires you to get a pre-sale inspection, gather several key documents, sign the title and remove the plates.
Written by Haylee Thorson
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
When selling a used car in Massachusetts, it’s important to gather the required paperwork, have the vehicle inspected, document the sale, transfer the title, remove the plates, and cancel your insurance. 
The thought of privately selling a car can often feel like an impossible task. However, the process is very simple when you know what to expect. Every state sets its own rules and regulations for selling a vehicle, and it’s your responsibility to remain up-to-date on what those requirements may be. 
Car insurance
super app
has made it easy for you by compiling a list of everything you need to know about selling a car in Massachusetts. 

What you need to sell a car in Massachusetts

To sell a used car in Massachusetts, you should start by gathering the necessary paperwork. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) requires the following documentation when changing ownership:
  • Certificate of title (if lost or damaged, you can apply for a duplicate title
    or by mail with
    this document
    ; there is a $25 fee to replace a title in Massachusetts)
  • Your signature
  • Signature of any lienholder(s)
  • Signature of the buyer
  • Odometer disclosure
  • Used car dealer license (required for anyone who sells more than three cars in a one-year period)

Getting a pre-sale inspection

In Massachusetts, there are
lemon laws
in place that require all private sellers to inform buyers of any known vehicle defects that could potentially impair safety. Buyers can return a used vehicle for a full refund if it fails a state inspection within seven days of purchase. 
Additionally, if a buyer discovers a defect that compromises the vehicle’s safety and can prove that the seller knew about it, they are entitled to a refund up to 30 days after purchase. 
Key Takeaway: Massachusetts Lemon Laws can be a real headache for both buyers and sellers, so it’s always a good idea to conduct a pre-sale inspection of any used vehicle. 
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Documenting the sale

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not require a bill of sale if a vehicle’s title is available. However, it’s always a good idea to have one on hand in case any problems arise during title transfer or registration. In this case, a bill of sale should include:
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Make, model, and year
  • Amount of sale
  • Seller name, address, and signature
  • Buyer name, address, and signature
  • Odometer reading
You can download a generic bill of sale

Signing the title over

On the back of the Certificate of Title, the seller must sign and print their name, as well as the buyer’s name and address under the “Assignment of Ownership” section. 
Both parties also need to include the following information on the back of the title:
  • Legal name
  • Address
  • Signature 
  • Date of sale
  • Purchase price 
  • Odometer reading
In the state of Massachusetts, the buyer must fill out a
Registration and Title Application
. If the vehicle’s ownership is being transferred to an immediate family member,
form MVU-26
(sales tax exemption) is also required. 
If there is more than one owner and the names are joined by “and” on the title, both people must sign the title. If the names are joined by “or” or “and/or,” only one person has to sign.

Removing the plates

To avoid being held liable for the new buyer’s actions on the road, you must remove the vehicle’s license plates and cancel your registration (this can be done
or in person at a Massachusetts RMV office). While you are not required to return the plates to the RMV, you’ll need to either destroy or recycle them. 

Canceling your insurance 

Finally, you’ll need to cancel your
car insurance
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If a private seller knowingly sold you a defective vehicle and failed to disclose it, you’re entitled to a refund up to 30 days after the sale. If the seller refuses, you can take action through mediation or by suing in court.
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