I am attempting to make my first used car purchase from a private party in New York. I understand that the title should be transferred to me after the sale but what about a "Bill of Sale" ? Would I need one if I get the title? And is my understanding correct in that "release of lien" is only required if the title mentions a lien on the car? Thanks!

  • 2
    It might depend on the particular state (and I don't know New York, so I can't make this an answer), but in the ones I've bought used cars in, only the title (AKA "pink slip") is needed.
    – jamesqf
    Mar 22, 2020 at 2:59
  • You not only must "get" the title, but the title document must be signed over to you by all parties listed on the title including the lien-holder, if any. The Department of Motor Vehicles will then issue you a new title with your name on it when you register the car in your name. Typically, you will get the new title document by mail; what the DMV will hand to you at the office when you register your car is the registration and perhaps new plates and stickers. Oh, and the bill of sale is helpful since you will need to pay sales tax on the sale price when registering the car. Mar 22, 2020 at 3:31
  • @DilipSarwate It sounds like I have to get a bill of sales in addition to the title for them to charge the sales tax...unless the title itself has the price it was sold at? Mar 22, 2020 at 16:30
  • @DilipSarwate With regards to sales tax, this depends on where you live. Some states, for instance, have no sales tax on private sales.
    – user12515
    Mar 24, 2020 at 2:17

1 Answer 1


Each state is different, here is the information from [New York state]:

About transferring vehicle ownership and acceptable proofs of ownership:

Cars, Trucks, and Motorcycles Model year 1973 or newer

The acceptable proof of ownership is either

  • the original New York State Certificate of Title – must be the original 1


  • other original acceptable proof of ownership from another state 2

    • if the state does not provide a title document because there is a lien on the vehicle, an electronic title printout from the DMV is acceptable

To transfer ownership

  • the seller whose name appears on the proof of ownership must record the name of the buyer and sign the transfer section of the proof of ownership
    • the transfer section must be notarized if the proof of ownership is a Certificate of Title from Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Kentucky Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wyoming, or Puerto Rico
  • the seller must sign a Vehicle Bill of Sale (PDF) (MV-912)
    • if the vehicle was a gift, the seller must sign Section 6 on Page 2 of a Statement of Transaction- Sale or Gift of Motor Vehicle, Trailer, All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Vessel (Boat), or Snowmobile (PDF) (at NY State Department of Tax and Finance) (DTF-802)
    • if the seller has a title certificate that was transferred to them by another person, the seller cannot use that title certificate to transfer the ownership
      • before the seller can transfer ownership they must apply for a title certificate only and transfer the new title certificate


  • if the vehicle is 10 model years old or newer, the seller must complete the Odometer Disclosure Statement on the back of the title certificate
  • the Damage Disclosure Statement on the back of the New York State Certificate of Title must be completed for all vehicles regardless of the vehicle's age
  • make sure that the information listed on the title certificate is not altered, erased or changed 3

those three footnotes:

  1. We will not accept certified copies. If the original title was lost or stolen, or if you have satisfied a lien on the title you must order a replacement title.
  2. We will not accept certified copies.
  3. If any information is altered, erased or changed, the current owner must get a duplicate title certificate and use the duplicate to transfer the ownership to you.

They stress multiple times they need the original title document with no changes. Pay attention to the parts of the transfer section that must be completed. You will also need the Vehicle Bill of Sale.

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