What Is a Bill of Sale in California?
A California Bill of Sale is a form that documents the transfer of certain goods from one party (the seller) to another (the buyer). You can use it to buy and sell cars, firearms, electronics, equipment, watercraft, and any other property. The main purpose of this document is to serve as legally binding proof of transfer that can be used by both parties to substantiate the fact of sale.
Types of Bills of Sale in California
California Bills of Sale can be divided into four main types:
- California Generic Bill of Sale. The state does not provide any government-issued forms you can use as a Generic Bill of Sale. Any document is considered valid as long as it meets the state requirements;
- California Vehicle Bill of Sale. California offers two official sale forms that are acceptable throughout the state: Form REG 135, Bill of Sale and Form REG 262, Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment. The latter must be printed on security paper and therefore is not available online;
- California Boat Bill of Sale. When selling watercraft in California, use the same state-issued form as for a vehicle sale;
- California Firearm Bill of Sale. The state of California does not require filling out any specific bill of sale form when transferring firearms.
California Department of Housing and Community Development has released an additional official form (Form HCD RT475.1) used when selling mobile homes, floating homes, and truck campers. Shasta County has its own official Bill of Sale for sold mobile equipment (Mobile Equipment Update Form).
Certain counties in California require additional documentation:
- Fresno. The County of Fresno requires filing Form FCA 3169, Boat Sold or Moved every time you transfer the ownership of your vessel;
- Shasta. If you sell a boat or aircraft in Shasta, you are required to file county-issued Vessel/Aircraft Update form attached to the release of liability, bill of sale, or other documents you may have to substantiate the deal. Shasta County also requires filling out the Mobile Equipment Update form when you sell your mobile equipment. Submit this document attached to the copy of your bill of sale or any other document that confirms your deal;
- Ventura. The laws of Ventura County require you to fill out Form AO-VBA_550, Important Notice of Boat and Aircraft Assessment Information when you sell your watercraft or aircraft. File this county-issued form together with documentation that proves the fact of the sale in order to cancel the tax assessment in your name.
Do You Need a Bill of Sale in California?
Though California provides an official bill of sale form, state law does not require you to fill them out when you buy or sell the property. You do not need to submit them during registration, either. However, there are two exceptions:
- When you buy the boat not directly from the owner indicated on the title, a bill of sale from every in-between buyer is required;
- When you sell the vehicle that is less than 10 years old and are required to disclose the odometer reading, you need to obtain and fill out state-issued Form REG 262.
In all other cases, a bill of sale is important because it contains important details of sale and information about the buyer and the seller.
California Bill of Sale Requirements
A California Bill of Sale will be considered valid if it contains the following details: seller and buyer information, description of transferred property, trade details, and signatures. Make the document in two original copies: one for each party. Notarizing a bill of sale in California is not required.
This form is a document you use to substantiate the transfer of a motor vehicle or watercraft from the seller to the buyer. This state-approved document helps to record the transaction information and serves as proof of purchase.
A California Firearm Bill of Sale is a document used to record the transfer of different kinds of firearms from one party to the other (from the seller to the buyer). This properly completed and signed form is considered a legally binding agreement that proves the fact of sale.
Use this California Generic Bill of Sale, a legal agreement between two parties of the deal, to record the information about your transaction. Make sure you keep a copy of the document, whether you are the seller or the buyer.