The California bill of sale is a document used by the seller and buyer to transfer the ownership of personal property.
Some of the elements that should be included in every California bill of sale are:
Names and addresses of the seller and the buyer
Description of the transferred item
Seller and buyer disclosures
Place, date, and signature section
Each element mentioned above largely differs depending on the type of transferred item. That means the bill of sale for a car and a firearm would not look exactly the same.
By the end of this article, you will learn how to make a bill of sale for any type of item you want to transfer, or you can simply download one of our professional bill of sale templates below.
California Bill of Sale Parties
The main parties to the bill of sale are the buyer and the seller.
A seller is a person who transfers ownership of their personal property to the buyer. In the bill of sale, the seller is also called a transferor. There can be more than one transferor in the bill of sale.
The person who pays the price to buy something from the seller is called the buyer. There can also be more than one buyer listed in the bill of sale, and they are often referred to as “transferees.”
Buyer And Seller Disclosure
The seller shall disclose if the transferred item has any damages or flaws. They should be described in detail and inserted in the lease agreement.
With the description of all damages, many sellers decide to include the “as is” disclosure in their bill of sale. This means the item is sold in its current condition, with all the damages and flaws.
The buyer cannot file any claims after the purchase for the damages disclosed. Therefore, this disclosure will not be valid for any hidden or lied about damages.
California Bill of Sale Description of Goods
In the description of goods section of the bill of sale, the seller must enter all the relevant details about the item they are transferring.
The rule of thumb is to include any details that will help individualize the item so that it can be differentiated from other items of its kind.
The California DMV requires certain information to be provided when registering a motor vehicle:
License plate number
Vehicle identification number (VIN)
Make, model, and year of the vehicle
When it comes to other kinds of items, you should insert any serial numbers, if applicable. Otherwise, a detailed description of the item works.
California Bill of Sale Purchase Price
Once we determine what the seller is transferring to the buyer, we must provide the buyer’s compensation for the goods. Below are the three most common ways of compensating the seller.
With this compensation method, the buyer transfers a certain amount of money to the seller in exchange for the item. The payment can be made in cash, with credit cards, checks, or via bank transfer.
The buyer can also exchange an item in their possession for the seller’s item. Optionally, the buyer will also pay the seller a certain amount of money to cover the difference in value between the two items.
This method is often used between members of the same family to transfer ownership. In this way, there is no compensation that the buyer must give to the seller. However, the value of an item should be entered in the bill of sale for tax purposes.
California Bill of Sale for Motor Vehicles (Cars) Requirements
The California DMV is the governmental body in charge of motor vehicle registration in California. They set the requirements for all the documents that must be submitted for the vehicle registration, including the bill of sale.
If you are buying an out-of-state vehicle, to change the ownership and register it under your name, you must submit the bill of sale. This is required in case the person you bought the vehicle from is not listed in the title.
Abandoned or Junk Vehicles
In California, you can buy a junk vehicle from another person using the general bill of sale.
If you wish to restore and operate such a vehicle, you need to register it as a revived salvage vehicle. One of the documents you must submit for registration is proof of ownership, which the bill of sale can serve as in this case.
Vehicles Sold by Dealers
If you are buying a new vehicle from the dealership, they are authorized to apply for the title and handle the registration. In addition, the dealership issues a bill of sale to you as proof of vehicle purchase.
Vehicles Sold by Private Parties
Since private parties don’t have consumer protection laws like dealerships, it’s good to make a bill of sale when buying a car from a private seller to prevent any fraud.
California Bill of Sale for Boats (Vessel) Requirements
If you purchase a sailboat that is longer than eight feet or a motor vessel or boat, regardless of its size, you must register it at the local DMV.
When registering your vessel or boat, you shall submit the bill of sale if you purchased it from a private seller.
California Bill of Sale for Firearms Requirements
The private purchase of a firearm is prohibited in California. However, when purchasing the firearm from an official dealer, they will issue you a Dealer’s Record of Sale that contains the following information:
The make and model of the firearm
Firearm serial number
The caliber of the firearm
Date of sale and buyers information
Private ownership transfers are allowed only between family members, namely:
Private Ownership Transfers
Parent and child
Grandparent and grandchild
California Bill of Sale for Horses Requirements
The California Business and Professions Code, Section 19525, provides that every horse sale must be documented on the bill of sale. The state, however, doesn’t provide the bill of sale template for the horse sale.
The only requirements for the bill of sale are that both the seller and the buyer must sign it and that it includes the purchase price.
California Bill of Sale for Trailers (RVs) Requirements
All utility trailers in California must be registered through the trailer identification program. In addition, the owners must bring the bill of sale, title registration application, and permanent trailer identification application and pay the necessary fees.
California Bill of Sale Other Requirements
You can use any language for your bill of sale as long as the other party understands it. However, be aware that for the bill of sale forms provided by the state of California, only the English version is available.
In practice, each party to the bill of sale should receive at least one copy. If the transferred item needs to be registered, make sure you have at least one extra copy to submit to the relevant government office.
California Bill of Sale Taxes
Used car dealers are required to report the sales tax in California.
When registering the vehicle in California, you must also pay the use tax.
Every bill of sale should include a warning about false purchase price reporting and its legal consequences.
California Bill of Sale FAQ
Yes, the handwritten bill of sale will also be accepted as valid in California as long as it includes all the necessary elements.
The seller must sign every bill of sale, regardless of the item type.
The buyer is explicitly required to sign only the bills of sale for the firearm and trailer transfer.
However, both parties should sign the bill of sale whenever possible, since it will give the document more legitimacy and authenticity.
The best way to get a professional bill of sale that is in line with all California laws and regulations is to download one of the templates available on our website.
All parties to the bill of sale benefit from signing the document. The seller limits their liability for the item after it leaves their possession. For the buyer, the bill of sale is a valid proof of purchase price payment.