Bill of sale (motorcycle) — How to guide

by LegalZoom Staff
updated May 11, 2023 ·  4min read

1. Overview

You’ve listed your motorcycle and you’ve found your buyer—it’s time to finish your deal. In the modern marketplace, your transaction can’t be completed with a simple handshake and a wave goodbye. A vehicle transfer also requires you to file with your state’s motor vehicle department and other local agencies. This process calls for a complete, well-drafted bill of sale. With the enclosed documents and instructions, you can firm up the terms of your arrangement and prepare for your bike’s new titling and registration.

A bill of sale is like a receipt. It proves that ownership of a particular piece of property has changed hands. It also details the terms of the sale, including information about price, delivery, and condition. Bills of sale can help prove the identity of a vehicle’s true legal owner. Moreover, many states and counties use these documents to determine the amount of sales tax owed on the transaction, if any. 

If you follow the enclosed sample and guidelines, you will have a written acknowledgment of the rights and responsibilities being transferred as part of your sale. This will provide essential documentation of ownership and liability obligations and you will be well on your way to establishing a clear record of title for your motorcycle. 

2. Dos & don’ts checklist

  1. Getting the correct name and physical address of the other party to your deal is essential. If questions emerge, you’ll need to contact that person or company directly.
  2. If you are the seller, give the buyer the completed bill of sale only after you have received your money and the transaction is complete. The bill of sale states specifically that you have already been paid; it may be difficult to collect any outstanding amounts if you give written evidence that the buyer’s payment obligations are complete.
  3. The enclosed bill of sale assumes that the motorcycle’s purchase price will be paid in full on the sale date. If the buyer intends to make a down payment at the time of purchase and pay the remainder over time, do not use the enclosed document. Draft and sign a promissory note, and use a bill of sale that provides for deferred payment.
  4. Sign two copies of the bill of sale, one for you and one for the other party
  5. Although not strictly required, consider bringing a third party with you when the bill of sale is signed. If questions arise about the sale, that person can serve as a reporter of the transaction. Alternatively, you and the other party can have your signatures notarized. 
  6. Once your bill of sale is complete and signed, visit your local county clerk or tax office to record the document. The bill of sale will be registered and used to estimate applicable sales (or use) taxes.
  7. The seller should contact its state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) immediately after completion of the sale and inform them that the vehicle has been sold and to whom. This will protect the seller if a ticket is issued or an accident occurs in the period between the sale and the re-titling of the motorcycle.
  8. To complete the title transfer, both the seller and the buyer should send a copy of the bill of sale to the state’s DMV. Some states require that the seller report the title transfer within five (5) days of the sale, and the buyer within ten (10) days.
  9. Additional steps may be required to wrap up your vehicle transfer. For example, the motorcycle’s “pink slip” must be signed over to the purchasing party. Check with your local DMV and tax authority to see what documents may be needed in your area.
  10. Make sure the vehicle’s license plate is removed before the motorcycle is physically transferred to the buyer. In many states, this is required by law.

3. Bill of sale (motorcycle) instructions

The following provision-by-provision instructions will help you understand the terms of your bill of sale. The numbers below (e.g., Section 1, Section 2, etc.) correspond to the provisions in the enclosed form. Please review the entire document before starting your step-by-step process.

  • Location of sale. Write in the name of the state and county where the sale will take place. If the parties are from different counties, use the state and county in which the motorcycle is located.
  • Purchase price. Write the purchase price in the first blank provided. Be sure to include the full price, including any down payments that have already been made. 
  • Names and addresses of parties. Identifies the parties and their street addresses (not P.O. Boxes). One party to this bill is called the “Seller” and the other is called the “Buyer.” As you probably guessed, the Seller is the party that will sell the motorcycle and the Buyer is the party that will purchase it. Note that only the individual whose name is on the title of a vehicle is permitted to sell it. This means that if a married couple is selling the motorcycle but that motorcycle is titled in the wife’s name, only the wife should sign the bill of sale.
  • Motorcycle location and description. Describe the motorcycle in detail, making sure that it can be identified clearly from the description. 
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LegalZoom Staff

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This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.