Selling a car can be stressful. There are dozens of things you’ll need to do to get your automobile ready for sale. As you work to take pictures of your car, post it for sale online, meet with buyers, go for test drives, and complete related tasks, you may forget about some of the paperwork you need to fill out to make the sale official.

However, completing the required paperwork is an incredibly important part of selling a car in California. One of the biggest examples of this is the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (NRL). This form is required by law. Failing to submit it could lead to fines, legal liability, and other distasteful outcomes.

If you’re unsure about the process of filing an NRL in California, we have you covered. Keep reading for a closer look at what this form is, why you need to file it, and how to get it done.

A Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability is a form that you need to fill out when selling your car in California. Its purpose is to let the DMV know that you’re no longer the owner of the vehicle. More specifically, it provides the government with a paper trail showing that you should no longer be held responsible for any legal issues associated with the car.

Filling out a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability may sound like a headache, or just another task you need to check off a list before you can finalize your sale. However, this form is more than paperwork. It will also provide you with significant value.

Once you’ve completed the NRL for your sale, you will no longer have to pay for parking and traffic violations that the vehicle incurs. You also won’t have to worry about any civil or criminal actions that could arise around the car you sell.

Put simply, once you’ve submitted your NRL, you won’t have to worry about your old car ever again. Having this peace of mind is certainly worth the minimal trouble it takes to fill the form out.

Do you need one to sell your car in California?

California law requires all individuals who sell their cars to submit a Notice of Transfer and Release Liability. State law dictates that sellers must do so within five days of completing the transaction. This makes submitting an NRL a crucial part of selling your car in California.

Your guide to getting an NRL in California:

Get Your Buyer’s Information

The first step towards filing an NRL in California is getting your buyer’s information. More specifically, you need to know the buyer’s full name and address. It’s important that you ensure their information is correct before finalizing the sale. Otherwise, you could create a headache for yourself down the road.

For the best results, you should verify the information that you have is correct by asking to see the purchaser’s ID before agreeing to finalize your car sale. This will give you peace of mind and ensure that you don’t run into any issues down the line due to accepting false information from your purchaser.

Gather Your Car’s Information

The other major pieces of information you’ll need to fill out an NRL involve your car. To finish the form, you’ll first need to have your car’s license plate number or vessel CF number. If your license plate has any symbols, the California DMV advises not to include those on the form.

You’ll also need to include your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) on the Notice of Transfer and Release Liability form. If you’re unsure what your car’s VIN is, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find. Most cars will have it listed in a few different places. The four most common locations are:

  • Under the car’s hood, beneath the front of the engine block
  • On the driver’s side of the interior dashboard (most common)
  • On the front end of the car frame (typical for older cars)
  • On the driver’s side door pillar (inside the vehicle)

Record the Car’s Odometer Reading

Finally, the last key piece of information you need to have before submitting the NRL is your car’s odometer reading. If you don’t know, this is a number you can generally find close to a car’s speed gauge.

The California DMV wants this reading because it gives them more information they can use to verify the date that the sale took place. This also provides a useful data point that other parties can use to verify no odometer rollback has taken place for the vehicle. Once you’ve gathered all of this information, you’re ready to find and fill out the NRL form.

Fill Out a Notice of Transfer and Release Liability

You’re finally ready to fill out the NRL and complete your sale. There are a few different ways you can do this. The first, and easiest option is to fill out an NRL online. You can do so by visiting the California DMV’s website and clicking on the button marked “Start NRL”.

The website will then guide you through the process of entering the required information. Once you’re done, you can submit the form online and be done with it forever.

If for some reason, you don’t want to fill out your Notice of Transfer and Release Liability online, you can also complete the process by submitting a paper form. Your options here include printing out an NRL or going to your local DMV office to pick one up there.

Submit The NRL

If you’ve chosen to fill out your NRL online, then you’ll have already completed this step after you’ve made it to the end of that process. However, if you’ve chosen to submit a paper form, then you’ll have to either bring it to your local DMV office or mail it to them.

It’s important to be prompt about this. California law only gives car sellers five days from the date of sale to submit their NRLs. Not doing so could cause you to incur a fine, and open you up to legal liability. Get your Notice of Transfer and Release Liability submitted within five days from the sale and you won’t have to worry about these issues.

What happens if I don’t get an NRL?

Filing an NRL is an important part of selling your car in California. Remember that when you do, you don’t actually remove your name from all association with the vehicle. Rather, the purpose of a Notice of Transfer and Release Liability is to communicate when the car was no longer in your possession.

When you fail to file an NRL, the DMV assumes that you’re still the car’s owner. This has legal implications that should be the cause for serious concern. For example, the car you sell could go on to be used in the commission of a crime. When this happens, the car’s owner will often face civil or criminal liability depending on the type of crime committed.

If you fail to provide the DMV with an NRL, you will still be assumed as the car’s owner. This places the burden on you to prove that the car wasn’t actually in your possession while it was involved in the illegality in question. Even if you’re able to prove that, you will still have to hire a lawyer to do it, which could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

On top of this, individuals who fail to file an NRL with the DMV within the five-day period subject themselves to fines. Given all that, it becomes clear that the simpler route is to just submit your Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability on time. Doing so will save you from having to deal with a myriad of potential issues that can arise when individuals fail to submit this form after selling a car in California.

Get your car sold in California the right way

Filing an NRL is an important part of selling a car in California. Doing so will limit your liability, finalize your sale, and ensure that you never have to worry about your old car again. We hope that the step-by-step guide included above helps you to file your NRL the right way.

That being said, there are a variety of tasks you need to take care of before selling your car in California. The Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability is just one important part of the process. With so much to worry about, it can be challenging to manage it all without forgetting something.

Instead of stressing to make sure you don’t forget anything about selling a car in California, why not get some help? PrivateAuto can make the entire sales process easier on you.With our help, you can advertise with free local listings, accept, reject, or make counter offers with ease, and complete the sale of your car in record time. This will free up your time and energy to focus on the parts of your life that really matter.