Legal Requirements Before Selling My Car?

When selling a car in Colorado, it is essential to be aware of the legal requirements to ensure a smooth and lawful transaction. This guide will provide you with the necessary steps and documentation required to sell your vehicle in compliance with Colorado state laws.

Title Transfer: A Mandatory Step

Transferring the title of your vehicle is the most critical legal requirement when selling a car in Colorado. As the seller, you must ensure the title is in your name and free of any liens or encumbrances. This process involves filling out the back of the title with essential information, such as the buyer’s name, sale price, and the date of the transaction. Both parties should then sign the title to officially transfer ownership. It’s important to provide a clear and accurate title to avoid any legal complications and ensure a smooth transfer of ownership.

  • Check for Liens: Ensure the title is clear of any liens.
  • Fill in Buyer’s Information: Include the buyer’s name and address on the title.
  • Record Sale Price and Date: Document the sale price and date of the transaction.
  • Signatures: Both the buyer and seller must sign the title.
  • Keep a Copy: Retain a copy of the signed title for your records.

Bill of Sale: Documenting the Transaction

Creating a bill of sale is a highly recommended step when selling your car in Colorado. Although not legally mandatory, it acts as a formal record of the sale, providing details such as the vehicle’s make, model, VIN, sale price, and date of the transaction. This document is beneficial for both parties as it serves as proof of purchase and can be useful in resolving any future disputes or misunderstandings regarding the terms of the sale.

  • Vehicle Information: Include make, model, and VIN.
  • Sale Details: Document the sale price and date.
  • Buyer and Seller Information: Record the names and addresses of both parties.
  • Signatures: Both the buyer and seller should sign the bill of sale.
  • Keep a Copy: Retain a copy for your records and provide one to the buyer.

Emissions Testing: A Requirement in Some Areas

In Colorado, emissions testing is a requirement for vehicles in certain areas, especially in the Denver-Boulder region and parts of Northern Colorado. As a seller, you are responsible for ensuring that your vehicle meets the state’s emissions standards before the sale. This involves taking your car to a certified emissions testing facility and obtaining a passing certificate. The test verifies that your vehicle’s emissions are within the state’s environmental standards, which is crucial for maintaining air quality and adhering to environmental laws.

  • Area Specific: Check if your area requires emissions testing.
  • Testing Centers: Visit a certified emissions testing facility.
  • Passing Certificate: Obtain a certificate indicating your vehicle has passed.
  • Cost: Be prepared to cover the cost of the test.
  • Timing: Test your vehicle close to the sale date to ensure validity.

Odometer Disclosure: Reporting Mileage Accurately

Odometer Disclosure Reporting Mileage Accurately

The Federal Truth in Mileage Act mandates accurate odometer disclosure when selling a vehicle. In Colorado, this information is typically included on the vehicle’s title. As the seller, you are required to provide the correct mileage at the time of sale. This helps prevent odometer fraud and ensures that the buyer is fully informed about the vehicle’s condition and history. It’s important to note that if your vehicle is over ten years old, this requirement may not apply.

  • Accurate Mileage: Report the exact mileage on the title.
  • Disclosure Statement: Include a written statement if the title doesn’t have space for mileage.
  • Exemption: Vehicles over ten years old may be exempt.
  • Avoid Fraud: Accurate disclosure helps prevent odometer fraud.
  • Buyer’s Awareness: Ensures the buyer is informed about the vehicle’s history.

Notification of Vehicle Sale: Informing the DMV

After selling your vehicle in Colorado, it’s important to notify the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the transaction. This step is crucial as it releases you from liability for the vehicle after the sale. The notification can be done online through the DMV’s website or by completing the “Seller’s Notification of Sale” section found on the back of your vehicle registration card. This process helps the DMV update their records and provides an official record of the change in ownership.

  • Online or In-Person: Notify the DMV online or using the vehicle registration card.
  • Timeliness: Complete this step promptly after the sale.
  • Release of Liability: Protects you from future liabilities related to the vehicle.
  • Record Update: Helps the DMV maintain accurate records.
  • Proof of Notification: Keep a copy of the notification for your records.

License Plates: Handling Post-Sale

In Colorado, license plates are the property of the seller, not the vehicle. This means that after selling your car, you should remove the license plates. You have the option to transfer them to another vehicle you own or return them to the DMV. Keeping the plates prevents any misuse by the new owner and ensures you are not held responsible for any violations or incidents involving the vehicle after the sale.

  • Remove Plates: Take the plates off the vehicle after the sale.
  • Transfer or Return: Transfer them to another vehicle or return them to the DMV.
  • Prevent Misuse: Protects you from liability for any post-sale violations.
  • Record Keeping: Keep a record of the plate transfer or return.
  • Compliance: Ensures adherence to Colorado state laws.

By adhering to these legal requirements, you can ensure a legitimate and hassle-free sale of your car in Colorado. Remember to check for any updates or additional local requirements that may apply to your specific situation. Selling a car is a significant transaction, and taking these steps will provide peace of mind for both the buyer and the seller.


  1. Title Transfer:
  2. Bill of Sale:
  3. Emissions Testing:
  4. Odometer Disclosure:
  5. Notification of Vehicle Sale:
  6. License Plates: