Whether you're thinking about selling your car to a dealer or listing it as a private seller, Virginia residents need to consider the unique state requirements. Here's a closer look at what Virginia requires from private car sellers.

Can You Sell a Car Privately in Virginia?

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), one out of every three cars sold in the state is sold privately, meaning the buyer and seller are both private individuals. However, when selling as a private individual as opposed to being an automotive dealer, the state of Virginia requires a few extra pieces of paperwork for you and the buyer.

The Basics of Selling a Car Privately

Before we jump into the specifics of what's required in Virginia, it's important to review the basics.

  • The title is a legal document and you'll need to have it on hand. If you don't have the title, submit a lost or stolen title form to recover it before the sale.
  • When writing on the title's transfer of ownership lines, always use black or blue ink. Errors or white-out may void the document, so be careful.
  • Both parties should use their full legal names on any and all paperwork. Current physical addresses should also be given, along with a current mailing address (if different).

1. Gather the Vehicle's Documentation

Begin by assembling all documentation you have regarding your vehicle. This would include important papers, like maintenance records that show your upkeep of the car, along with the owner's manual and other paperwork.

You'll want the title in hand before the sell. If you've lost the car's title or it has been stolen, you must submit an Application for Replacement of Substitute Title, or Form VSA 67. If you have inherited the car, you will need the owner's certified death certificate and a copy of the will, along with Form VSA 24 (Authority to Transfer Virginia Title Certification). If you are a joint owner and the co-owner is deceased, you may apply for a substitute title that removes the co-owner's name. Fees will vary depending on the situation.

In addition to the title, you'll also need a valid emission inspection for gasoline-powered vehicles less than 25 years of age and diesel-powered vehicles from 1997 or newer. This only applies to cars registered in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Cars manufactured in the current model year or during the three preceding model years are exempt from a biennial emission inspection, and so are most hybrids. All hybrids are subject to the On-Road Emissions Program.

Lexus LC500 Photo by Alexander Jawfox / Unsplash Selling a car in Virginia

2. Prepare the Transfer Paperwork

You will need to complete section A on the front of the title by singing your name and providing the buyer's name and address. You'll also need to disclose the odometer reading at the time of sale and the date of sale. Include the final sales price as well. If you're donating the car, write "charitable gift" in place of the sales price. The buyer will also need to sign section A.

If your vehicle is more than five years old, then both the buyer and seller must attest to the final sales price with the bill of sale form, also known as the Vehicle Price Certification. The state provides a template, but Virginia will accept any bill of sale (even a completely handwritten document) so long as it contains the right information. You can choose to notarize the bill of sale, but it's not necessary.

3. Remove Your License Plates

In the state of Virginia, the seller/registered owner of the car will keep the license plates. You can then turn them into the DMV or, if you're purchasing a replacement car, you can transfer them to your new vehicle. If you have over six months left on your registration for your plates, you might be able to get a partial refund if you submit Form FMS-210, the Application for Vehicle Registration Refund Form.

4. Cancel Your Insurance

Once you have sold the vehicle, you should inform your insurance carrier. If you have a new vehicle in its place, you may be able to transfer the policy, but you'll need to update the VIN number and vehicle information with your insurance company for that to happen. Your insurance rates may change, depending on the replacement vehicle's make, model, and safety features.

You should also contact your DMV by going online or calling up a local office. Notify them that you've sold the car so they can ensure that's reflected in their records. This is important because your insurance company will notify the DMV when insurance coverage is cancelled, and they will try to penalize you or even suspend your license for not having insurance if they don't know you no longer have the car.

Get Cash-in-Hand Faster

Selling your car in Virginia isn't hard, especially with the help of PrivateAuto. Our platform offers all the tools and resources you need to ensure a quick sale, including ready-to-sign state documents and an electronic signing tool. With PrivateAuto, your buyers can schedule test drivers, negotiate on offers, and even send payment using our secure EZ Pay system.

When you list with PrivateAuto, you'll unlock all of the resources you need to get cash-in-hand faster — like a window brochure that you can print out to advertise your vehicle locally. Listing with us is fast, fun, and is completely free of obligation. Our goal is to help you sell your car in a simpler, safer, and streamlined way. Ready to get started? List your car now.