Selling a Car in the District of Columbia

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Trying to sell your car in the District of Columbia? You’ll need to fill out a bill of sale, let your buyer take the car to a mechanic for an emissions inspection, and sign the certificate of title. Then, you can remove the plates from the car and return them to the DMV. 
Selling your car privately is the best way to get a good price, but it can be a daunting process. Every state has a different set of regulations for private automobile sales, and you need to follow the rules closely to avoid serious consequences. 
Failing to complete all the required documentation could leave you legally responsible for the car even after you’ve turned over the keys to a new owner. 
Luckily, car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has the expert guidance you need to make the sale without a hitch. In this article, we’ll walk you through all the steps to selling your car in the District of Columbia. 
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What you need to sell a car in the District of Columbia

The first step to selling your car in the District of Columbia is to assemble all the necessary paperwork. You’ll need all of the following documents to complete the sale: 
  • District of Columbia Certificate of Title
  • Your signature
  • Signature of any lienholder(s)
  • Signature of the buyer
  • Bill of sale
  • Emissions inspection
  • Odometer disclosure
If your car’s title has been lost or stolen, you’ll need to get a replacement before you can proceed. Fill out a Certificate of Title/Temporary Tag Application to receive a duplicate title
You’ll need to provide a valid photo ID and some basic information about your vehicle, such as the renewal notice, registration, vehicle identification number (VIN), and license plate number. 

Getting a pre-sale inspection

The District of Columbia requires biannual emissions inspections, but if you’re selling the car to another District resident, the existing inspection sticker remains valid until it expires. That said, it’s still a good idea to let the buyer take the car to a mechanic, even though it’s not required by law. 
The following vehicles are exempt from an emissions inspection:
  • Privately-owned vehicles manufactured before 1968
  • Any car designated as a zero-emissions vehicle 

Documenting the sale

Once you’ve found a buyer and settled on a purchase price, you’ll need to fill out a bill of sale to create a legal receipt for the transaction. You can create a bill of sale using an online template or draft your own. Just make sure you include the following information: 
  • Name and address of the seller
  • Name and address of the buyer
  • Complete vehicle description, including make, model, year, and VIN
  • Odometer reading at the time of sale
  • Date of sale
  • Signature of the seller
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Signing the title over

The bill of sale is only a record of the financial transaction—it doesn’t legally transfer ownership of the vehicle to your buyer. A title transfer is the only way to officially transfer ownership of a vehicle and release yourself from legal and financial responsibility for the car
Fill out the back of the certificate of title by entering the buyer’s name in the purchaser field, and give it to your buyer. Make sure you print your name exactly as it appears on the front, and don’t forget to sign! 
If the car has multiple owners listed, all of them will need to sign the back of the title. 

Reporting the sale

Once the sale is complete and you’ve handed over the title, be sure to remove your old license plates before the buyer drives away. If you don’t remove the license plates, you will be liable for any traffic violations committed by the new owner. 
You can return the license plates either in person or by mail, or you can cancel them online. If you choose to cancel your tags online, you’ll be responsible for disposing of them correctly. 

Finding affordable car insurance 

Now that you’ve sold your car, you’re probably in the market for a new insurance policy. You might be tired of filling out forms at this point, but don’t just settle for the first quote you see.
Instead, download the Jerry app to get quotes from 50+ top insurance companies. Because Jerry is a licensed insurance broker and a comparison shopping expert, you can be sure that you’re getting the best coverage at the lowest available rate. 
Jerry users save an average of $879 a year on car insurance just by downloading and asking for quotes! 
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Your car’s value depends on the vehicle’s make, model, year, and condition. Resources like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book can help you estimate how much to charge.

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