If you plan to transfer any kind of personal property in Washington, the chances are that you’ll need a bill of sale.
The Washington bill of sale is a document that provides all the details of the personal property transfer between the seller and the buyer. There are many reasons parties choose to draft and sign a bill of sale, namely because:
Reasons to Use Washington Bill of Sale
It is a required document for motor vehicle and vessel registration in Washington
The seller uses it to prevent their responsibility after the purchase
It is used as proof of purchase price for the sales and use tax calculation
The buyer can use it as proof of ownership when there is no title for the purchased item
It provides all the terms and conditions of the item purchase and prevents misunderstandings and disputes
Washington Bill of Sale Parties
The seller and buyer are the main parties to the bill of sale.
A seller transfers the ownership of their personal property to the buyer in exchange for the purchase price. In the bill of sale, they are often referred to as the transferor.
A buyer pays the purchase price and obtains ownership of the purchased item. There can be more than one buyer listed in the bill of sale, and they are also referred to as the transferee.
Buyer and Seller Disclosure
If the seller transfers the item that is used, they must provide a detailed description of all the damages and flaws of the item. In that way, the seller limits their liability for any buyer’s claims regarding the item’s condition. However, the seller will still remain liable for the damages and flaws that were not disclosed in the bill of sale or that were lied about.
Washington Bill of Sale Description of Goods
This section includes all the relevant information about the transferred item. What information is considered relevant largely depends on the type of transferred item.
For example, when transferring a motor vehicle, the description section should always include the following:
Make and model of the vehicle
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
Production year and horsepower
Body type and color
Description of all the damages and flaws (for the used vehicle)
Details about the additional equipment that comes with the vehicle
Other item types must include information that will help the parties differentiate the item from other items of the same kind. If possible, this section should always include the serial or registration number of the item. Otherwise, a detailed description of all the item’s features and characteristics will serve the same purpose.
Washington Bill of Sale Purchase Price
The purchase price is a countervalue due to the seller for transferring their personal property to the buyer. Below are the three most commonly used methods of compensating the seller.
This is the most commonly used method. With this method, the buyer transfers a certain amount of money to the seller in exchange for the purchased item.
The trade involves the exchange of items between the seller and the buyer. Since the value of the items is often not the same, the buyer needs to pay an additional amount of money to the seller to cover the difference in value.
If the seller transfers the item to the buyer as a gift, they expect no compensation in return. Therefore, this method is often used between members of the same family or other personally related people. For tax reasons, the seller and buyer are still required to enter the estimated value of the item in the bill of sale.
Washington Bill of Sale for Motor Vehicles (Cars) Requirements
The Washington Department of Licensing is the body in charge of motor vehicle registration and titling. To register and title a vehicle in Washington, you must submit the bill of sale along with the registration and title application.
If you purchase a vehicle outside Washington, you must apply for the title and registration within 30 days. If you have owned the vehicle for less than 90 days, you should submit the vehicle bill of sale or dealership purchase agreement showing if any taxes have been paid.
Abandoned or Junk Vehicles
The vehicle seller must disclose in the bill of sale if the vehicle is branded as junk, salvage, rebuilt, or destroyed.
Vehicles Sold by Dealers
The Washington licensed dealers are authorized to apply for the vehicle title and registration on the buyer's behalf. In the meantime, the buyer can use the bill of sale as proof of purchase until they obtain the title in their name.
Vehicles Sold by Private Parties
The bill of sale for the used vehicle (model year 2011 or newer) should include the odometer disclosure as required by the Truth in Mileage Act.
Washington Bill of Sale for Boats (Vessel) Requirements
Most of the boats and vessels must be titled and registered in Washington. Check the Washington DOL website to see if your type of boat or vessel needs to be titled or registered.
The boat bill of sale must include the purchase price and the size of the boat/vessel for calculating the sales tax and the titling and registration fees.
Washington Bill of Sale for Firearms Requirements
Firearm registration is not required in Washington. However, the state requires every buyer to submit an application for the firearm purchase and to undergo a background check.
If you are buying or selling a firearm, you should draft and sign a bill of sale to have a record of the transaction. This is especially useful for the seller since they can use the bill of sale to limit their liability after they transfer the ownership.
Washington Bill of Sale for Horses Requirements
A horse bill of sale in Washington should include the following:
Names, addresses, and ID numbers of the buyer and seller
Horse name and breed
Age and gender of the horse
Horse registration number (if applicable)
Details about the health condition of the horse
Information about the additional equipment included in the purchase price
Signatures of the seller and buyer
Washington Bill of Sale for Trailers (RVs) Requirements
If you have a homemade trailer, you should apply for an inspection with the Washington State Patrol. During the inspection, you must prepare and show all the invoices and bills of sale for the parts you’ve purchased for the homemade trailer. Please note that all the bills of sale you present for the inspection must be notarized.
Washington Bill of Sale Other Requirements
A bill of sale can be drafted in any language as long as both parties can understand it. However, if you are submitting your bill of sale to a Washington State official, make sure you submit the English version of your bill of sale or attach an official English translation.
Each party to the bill of sale should have at least one copy for their records. In addition, you should prepare a certain number of extra copies if you need to apply for item titling and registration.
Washington Bill of Sale Taxes
When you’re drafting your bill of sale, ensure you include the purchase price so you can use the document as purchase price proof for the tax authorities.
Even if the item is transferred as a gift, the parties should determine the estimated price of the item and enter it in the bill of sale for tax reasons.
The bill of sale should include a warning about the legal consequences of falsely reporting the purchase price.
Washington Bill of Sale FAQ
Yes, the handwritten bill of sale is as good as the printed one. The most important factor for the legitimacy of the bill of sale is that it includes all the necessary elements.
Both the seller and the buyer should sign the bill of sale. In some cases, parties can authorize a third person to sign the bill of sale on their behalf by issuing a power of attorney.
The Washington Department of Licensing provides a bill of sale form for motor vehicles and vessels.
However, if you wish to include additional information not provided in the form or you want to make a bill of sale for some other type of item, it’s best to download one of the bill of sale templates available on our website.
All the parties to the bill of sale benefit from signing it since it protects both parties' rights and prevents any misunderstandings or disputes by outlining the terms and conditions of the ownership transfer.