Woman Signing Papers

How To Fill Out The Pink Slip When Selling Your Car

Hanna Kielar5-minute read
PUBLISHED: January 12, 2022 | UPDATED: December 13, 2022


The final step in the car selling process is to transfer ownership to the buyer, and it’s important to fill out the paperwork properly to ensure a seamless transaction. You shouldn’t transfer ownership until you’ve received payment and provided the buyer with everything they need. 

You may not know how to fill out a pink slip when selling a car if you’ve never sold a vehicle before. This guide explains what a pink slip looks like and how to fill it out properly.

What Does A Pink Slip Look Like?

Every modern vehicle has an associated Certificate of Title, also referred to as a pink slip, which serves as proof of ownership. The vehicle is yours only if your name appears as the registered owner on the pink slip. Without a title, you’re unlikely to obtain a registration card from your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or even legally sell a car without a title. If you haven't already done so, the first step to sell your car is to obtain your vehicle title.

The front page of a pink slip will list the vehicle identification number (VIN), the owner’s name and address. On the back page, the new buyer can enter their information after purchase, in order to get a new title in their name. The bottom of the back page will include form information for dealership or lienholder use only.

How To Fill Out A Certificate Of Title

If you've never sold a car before, looking at the legal document that makes your car sale official can feel daunting. It’s easier than it looks. Here’s what to fill out on a pink slip when selling a car, for both buyers and sellers.

Where To Sign A Pink Slip: For Sellers

The seller usually only needs to sign the front of the car title, but in some states may also be required to provide a bill of sale. A bill of sale can be a handwritten document that includes the year, make, VIN, purchase price, date of sale and the buyer's name, address, driver's license number and signature. Whether or not a bill of sale is required, it is recommended. You can often download the correct bill of sale template from your state’s DMV website and bring it to the sale for you and the buyer to sign. Think of a bill of sale and the title as two complementary documents. While a bill of sale certifies a transfer of ownership between two parties, a title certifies the buyer's legal ownership. It's the final step in the process and proves that the buyer is the legal owner.

All registered owners are required to sign on the first page, leaving the rest to the buyer.

“Signature Below Releases Interest In The Vehicle”

Pay attention to who is listed as the registered owner on the title. There may be multiple, legal registered owners, ranging from spouses or family members to lienholders. If you want to sell a car with a loan on it, you’ll have some extra homework to do. The simplest solution, though not always easy, is to satisfy the loan payoff amount in order to get the title in your name.

You may need additional signatures if the word “and” is between your name and the name of a spouse or relative. In that case, you both need to provide a pink slip release signature for the sale to be valid. If your names are separated by the word “or,” only one of you needs to sign the title.

Once you sign the title, the buyer can fill out their portion on the back and claim ownership of the vehicle. From there, they can then take the pink slip and bill of sale to the DMV to have the vehicle registered under their name.

Odometer Disclosure

The odometer disclosure protects the seller from liability should something happen to the car after the title has transferred. Once you list the current odometer reading and sign, the next mile and onward are under the new owner’s liability.

For example, if the buyer gets into an accident on the way home, the odometer reading can verify when the change in legal ownership occurred. You’re not liable for anything that happens to the car once the buyer is the legal owner.

Lienholder Information

The lienholder section on the back side of the pink slip is solely for auto lenders to enter their information when they hold a lien on the vehicle. You can ignore this section when you’re filling out the pink slip because you’ll hold no interest in the car after it’s sold.

Where To Sign A Pink Slip: For Buyers

Once the seller has filled out their portion, buyers will need to provide their information and signature to complete the sale. In order to register the vehicle, new owners (there can be more than one) can look to the back of the pink slip to enter their names, address, mailing address, state and zip code.

You have the option to title the vehicle under more than one name, so if you’d like to include a second owner, fill in the information required in the same manner. If you select “and” when identifying the owners, you both need to sign the title during the purchase.

There’s also a place for you to enter your driver’s license number and the sale price of the vehicle. The sale price is used to calculate the amount of taxes you need to pay. If you already have a plate, you can file for a transfer of license plates or you can apply for a new plate when you register the car. If you’re buying a car from a private seller, it’s important to fill out the back of the title accurately to avoid complications during the title transfer.

Beyond Pink Slip Signatures

Some states not only require a bill of sale, but also that it arrived notarized. Documents are notarized to deter fraud and to ensure proper execution. The Notary Public officiates at the signing and ensures that the documents are signed correctly. Some states will require multiple forms of identification from both buyer and seller at signing. Regardless of whether it’s legally required in your state, it’s a good idea to notarize your bill of sale, preferably at the buyer’s bank. To protect both parties in the sale, you should also download and complete the following forms:

Statement Of Facts Form

A statement of facts form details the condition of the vehicle and any warranties on it. Most private sales are “as-is,” which means the car doesn’t come with any guarantees. In some instances, if there's a remaining warranty on the vehicle, it can be transferred to the new owner.

When you fill this form out, choose the options that apply to your sale. Some cars may qualify for a tax exemption or smog exemption, so select these options only if they apply to the car you’re selling.

Valid Smog Certificate

Some states require that vehicles pass a smog certification before they can be sold. Cars that pass the emissions test receive a document called a smog certificate. If you’re selling your vehicle, the buyer might demand that you get it tested and provide a current smog certificate before completing the sale. 

The Bottom Line: Private Car Sales Require Extra Homework

Filling out the required paperwork to complete a private car sale is one of the reasons many people opt to work with a dealership that handles all the paperwork for them. If you make a mistake when downloading or completing the required forms, it can prolong the sale and become a headache for you and the buyer.

Not sold on a private sale? Find out the best places to sell a car based on how quickly you need the cash and how much time you can devote to the process.

Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.