The release of liability form is a critical document for all car owners selling their vehicles. Without submitting this document, sellers may find themselves held responsible for tickets or unpaid registration fees. The release of liability form tells the state that a vehicle owner has sold the vehicle and is no longer responsible for it. Although not all states require this form, most do. Car owners should research their state’s requirements for private car sales.

If you are planning to sell your car and submit a release of liability, make sure you research the process. It is important to understand how to fill out and file the form correctly. It’s also important to know when in the process you should submit the form. The sections below describe when a release of liability form is necessary and how to submit one properly.  

What is a release of liability form?

A release of liability form is a document stating that you have given up responsibility of a particular vehicle. It indicates to your state that you are transferring ownership of the car to someone else, and that they are now responsible for it. This means that any future accidents, parking tickets or fines associated with the vehicle are not your responsibility.

The vehicle liability release form is mandatory in most states when giving up ownership of a vehicle. It may have a different name in different states. For example, in Florida the document is called a Notice of Sale, and all private sellers must submit one to document the transfer. In California, it is called a Notice of Transfer and Liability Release. However, drivers should double check the documents available and avoid confusing the form with the bill of sale. In many states a bill of sale is a separate document recording information about the details of the sale, such as the odometer reading. Because the bill of sale also transfers ownership of vehicles and must be submitted to the DMV, drivers may confuse the two.

The bill of sale is used to calculate the auto sales tax in some states. However, the release of liability form only documents the transfer of ownership with the state. It does not record the price of the vehicle or the state it was in. It only documents that an owner is not responsible for the vehicle. Form requirements vary, as some states like California may require that you submit both, while others like Florida may only require one or the other. It is important that car owners selling a car submit all the documents required to avoid maintaining liability for the vehicle. If not, drivers can be held responsible for the car long after they believe the car has passed on to someone else. Drivers should complete this step themselves, rather than leaving it to a dealership or the buyer.

Completing a Release of Liability Form

Completing a release of liability form for a car sale is a relatively simple process. Because the only purpose of the form is to notify the state that ownership has changed, the form is straightforward. Most state liability waivers only require you to include your license plate number and your vehicle identification number (VIN). Additionally, you will have to provide your name and address, and the buyer’s name and address on the form. However, you typically do not have to include the odometer mileage count or how much the vehicle was sold for.

To complete a vehicle liability release form, you should expect to provide basic information about yourself and the vehicle. For example, in Oregon, you should expect to provide vehicle information including the license plate tags, year, make, VIN and title number. Also prepare to offer the buyer’s name, driver’s license number and legal address as well as your name and the date of purchase. Different forms may ask for different information. If you have to submit a Bill of Sale instead of a release of liability form, you may also have to provide the vehicle’s mileage and sale price. Make sure you fill out information like the VIN as accurately as possible. If there are errors in the form, the state may not correctly transfer the vehicle liability. Double check your form before submitting it to the DMV.

Submitting the Vehicle Liability Release Form

After you complete the vehicle liability release form, you should submit it directly to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Do not rely on the driver or a third party to submit this form on your behalf. Some states allow you to submit the form online, completing the transfer instantly. Others require that you mail in an application or bring the form to a local DMV office in person. Make sure you research the methods acceptable or required in your state.

You must submit the release of liability before cancelling your auto insurance. You should not drive or use the vehicle without insurance. Therefore, you should maintain coverage as long as the car is your responsibility. Additionally, some states have deadlines for filing the vehicle liability release form. For example, the state of California requires that you submit the release of liability form within five days of transferring the vehicle ownership. Make sure you submit the form as soon as you complete the sale or within the time period outlined by your state’s laws.

If possible, photocopy or take a photo of your liability waiver before submitting it. It is important to maintain a paper trail proving that you have transferred ownership of the vehicle. Without evidence, you may have difficulty proving that you are not liable if fines are issued to the vehicle’s owner of record. After you have submitted all your documents, create a folder to maintain all receipts and documents of the vehicle transfer. Include a copy of the vehicle liability release form, along with other documents like the bill of sale, in your folder.

Last updated on Tuesday, October 9 2018.

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