Selling a Car in Washington

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It’s easy to sell a car in Washington. You will need the title, odometer reading, bill of sale, and emissions certificate. There is a $13.25 fee for filing the report of sale. No safety inspection is required in WA, but it could help attract buyers.
It’s straightforward to sell your car in Washington, but it’s important to follow the rules. If you miss a step, you could be liable for the new owner’s behavior. We doubt you want to pay for someone else’s Good-to-Go tolls or traffic tickets.
Here’s everything you need to know about selling a car in Washington, compiled for you by car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry.

What you need to sell a car in Washington

You will need a few key documents to successfully sell a car in Washington. The DMV usually requires these items:
  • Title with signatures from buyer and seller 
  • Odometer disclosure
  • Bill of sale
  • Emissions certificate
  • Fee
Be aware that, if you still owe money on your car loan, you are a bit restricted. You can sell it to a dealership without hassle, but private sales require that you pay off the remaining balance of your loan. Getting the new title can take several weeks, so plan ahead. 
Later, you will need to remove your old license plates, update your Good-to-Go account, and notify your car insurance company. 

Getting a pre-sale inspection

Pre-sale inspections are not required in Washington state. However, they can help attract buyers by reassuring them that the vehicle is sound. The government website advises all buyers to insist on a thorough test drive and independent inspection.
VIN inspections are no longer required either, unless the vehicle has been rebuilt.
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Documenting the sale

Before you can apply for a new title or do a title transfer, the buyer will need a Bill of Sale signed by the seller. The seller should keep a Bill of Sale for their own records, too.
Use the state’s official Bill of Sale form. Buyers have 15 days from the date of sale to pay the fees and taxes on the vehicle.
The bill of sale asks for information like:
  • Buyer - name, address
  • Seller - name, address, signature
  • Item description - VIN, make, model, year, mileage
  • Purchase price and date of sale

Signing the title over

Pay close attention to the title signatures. 
The seller must sign on the front of the title in two separate places, whereas the buyer only needs to sign once. If there are multiple people listed as sellers on the title with “and,” “and/or”, or nothing between their names, then both people must sign. If there are multiple people but there is an “or” between their names, only one signature is required. The same applies to multiple buyers.
If the title is lost or damaged, you will need to file Form TD-420-040 and pay $35. This is an Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest form and it can take up to 10 weeks to process. If you’re in a rush, you can pay an additional $85.50 for an expedited process.

Reporting the sale

There is a long list of reasons that legally require someone to report the sale of a vehicle in Washington:
  • Sell a vehicle
  • Sell privately
  • Sell on consignment
  • Sell out of state (must have a WA license plate)
  • Trade vehicle to a private party or dealer
  • Gift a vehicle
  • Donate a vehicle
  • Give a vehicle to a wrecking yard
  • Turn over a vehicle to an insurance company
  • Dispose of your vehicle
To sum up, whenever you give up ownership you must submit a report of sale. This is true for cars, trucks, motorcycles, motorhomes, boat trailers, travel trailers, registered off-road vehicles, and more. In Washington, a seller has five days from the date of sale to submit a Report of Sale to the Department of Licensing for $13.25.
Submitting a report of sale protects you from being held liable for a new owner’s bad behavior. The report of sale must include:
  • License plate number (including all numbers and letters on the plate)
  • Date of sale or transfer
  • Sale price (use zero if donating or inheriting)
  • VIN
  • Name and address of the new owner (person or organization)
Nearly done! Remove your license plates and update your Good-to-Go! account if applicable. Notify your insurance company and you’re free to move on with your life.

Finding affordable car insurance

When you buy or sell a car, it’s the perfect time to shop around for new insurance. You could be overpaying, and you could be eligible for a better rate with a different vehicle.
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Resources such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book can help you figure out what your car is worth so you can determine a fair price based on its make, model, year, and condition.

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