How To Sell a Car in Idaho (Step-By-Step Guide)

Selling your car seems as if it should be a straightforward, easy process. However, it can be overwhelming to think of all the steps required to sell and transfer a vehicle’s ownership legally. All states have laws governing the sale of cars, trucks, boats, and other motor vehicles by private owners, and you need to be sure you comply with all the laws and regulations for the legal transfer of your car.

So, if you are wondering how to sell a car in Idaho, keep reading to learn the exact steps to take.

What Steps Must I Take To Sell My Car in Idaho?

Each state has different rules and obligations for privately selling a car. The following steps are necessary if you want to sell a vehicle in Idaho:

  1. Correctly complete and transfer the certificate of title;
  2. Prepare and execute an Idaho bill of sale;
  3. File a release of liability document;
  4. Remove your license plates from the vehicle and cancel your car insurance.

The certificate of title must list the seller as the vehicle’s owner. That seems obvious, but you want to be sure the person you are negotiating with is the car’s legal owner. You must include the Idaho-required information on the bill of sale for the private sale and transfer of vehicles.

Finally, many people forget about their license plates when selling their cars. However, you must remove the license plates from your vehicle before handing the keys to the new owner. The law also needs a release of liability form (ROL), which you must file within five days of the sale.

Step 1: Have the Car Inspected

Before selling your vehicle, you should make it ready for the deal. As a seller, remove all your personal belongings from your car and check whether it has or doesn’t have any visible damage. If you have spotted something your client will not agree to improve, it is better to handle fixing it yourself. If a buyer detects some flaws, he or she has the right to ask you to repair them and pay for the service.

Buyers can sometimes order pre-sale car inspections by skilled car mechanics. Clients always pay for this type of service. However, the seller and purchaser should consent to this procedure and arrange a location.

Both parties can start organizing the essential documents when the car check goes well.

Step 2: Preparing the Correct Documents

You must know several documents when learning how to sell a car privately in Idaho. The certificate of title is the first document you need. The seller must hold the title to the vehicle. To correctly complete and transfer the certificate of title, the back of the paper must have the following information:

  • The seller’s legal name and signature;
  • The buyer’s legal name, address, and signature; 
  • The vehicle odometer info if the vehicle is less than 10 years old.

If the original title has been damaged or lost, the vehicle owner can get a duplicate title from the Idaho Department of Transportation by completing the duplicate Idaho title application.

The bill of sale is the following legal requirement you should know about to sell your vehicle in Idaho. Be sure you keep a copy of the bill of sale with your essential legal documents to show when the car was no longer in your possession or ownership. Idaho law requires this document because it is used to calculate sales tax on the sale of privately owned vehicles. In the bill of sale, you should mention the following key details:

  • The seller’s legal name and address;
  • The buyer’s legal name and address;
  • The date of the sale;
  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN);
  • The make and model of the vehicle;
  • The mileage/odometer reading of the vehicle;
  • The selling price of the vehicle; 
  • The name of any lien holder; 
  • The signatures of the seller and buyer.

Step 3: Transfer the Title

It is critical to execute the title transfer carefully when selling your vehicle. You need to fully and accurately complete the information on the back of the certificate of title to make the transfer legal. Mistakes, scratched-out areas, or covered-up information can void the document when completing the title transfer. The Idaho Department of Transportation requires the following steps to transfer a vehicle’s title legally:

  1. The seller and any lienholder must adequately release the title for a used car. 
  2. The execution of a bill of sale must include the vehicle description, sales price, buyer’s full name, seller’s signature, and date of purchase.
  3. The odometer disclosure is a requirement for any vehicle less than 10 years old.
  4. A law enforcement officer, DMV employee, military police officer, or an Idaho licensed dealer must complete a Vehicle Identification Number inspection. 
  5. The seller must pay a sales tax of 6 percent to the state of Idaho.
  6. The seller must pay a title fee.
  7. The seller must pay a registration fee.

Step 4: Remove Your License Plate and Cancel the Insurance

After your car “gets” a new owner, you have to remove the license plate. It is crucial when the seller of the car comes from a different state. The same goes for insurance – once the title is transferred, the prior insurance is no longer legally enforceable for this specific car in the other state.

Idaho is the state requiring freeing the space for the new license plate immediately and obtaining the new car insurance. Otherwise, the old license plate will still be assigned to you as the prior owner. It means that you will be responsible for any damage the new owner will do to the vehicle, despite the transferred ownership title. Plus, the seller will have to pay for the insurance once again.

Step 5: Notify About Your Sale

After you finish your car purchase and sale deal, you should file a release of liability (ROL) for a private sale of vehicles in Idaho. You must file the release of liability form within five days of the deal but file it as quickly as possible to protect the seller. You may file the original or go online to complete the form. You need to pay $3.50 to file the form with the Idaho Department of Transportation.

Once the seller files the release of liability form, the seller is no longer liable for damages caused or tickets received by any vehicle driver. If a seller does not timely file the release of liability, they may be on the hook for financial damages caused if the vehicle is involved in an accident or for a motor vehicle or parking tickets the new owner receives.

You must include the following information on the release of liability form:

The Final Word

Selling your car may feel intimidating when you are unsure of the legal requirements. You must follow several essential steps when transferring a vehicle’s ownership in any state. However, following the steps above, you should have the easy task of selling your car in Idaho. In summary, remember to properly prepare the certificate of title for transfer, execute a bill of sale, file a release of liability, and remove the license plates before handing over the keys.


What’s different about selling a car in Idaho?

Car sellers will be pleased to know that the used car market in Idaho is robust, which makes selling a car in Idaho easier. This is partly due to the moderate cost of living in Idaho compared to many other states. Of course, Idaho has state laws regarding the private sale of a vehicle that may differ from other states. For example, Idaho requires a bill of sale, while many other states do not.

What is the safest way to sell a car?

To avoid being scammed, you should receive the full and verified payment before transferring the certificate of title to the buyer. If the buyer pays by check, you should request a certified review from a reputable financial institution. If the payment is made online, be sure the funds clear your account before handing over the keys and title.

It is also wise to meet with potential buyers in a public area rather than at home. If you allow potential buyers to test drive your car, check their driver’s license and insurance coverage first.

How much does it cost to register a vehicle in Idaho?

If you purchase a new or used car as a resident of Idaho, or if you move to Idaho and already have a car, the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles requires you to register it. To do so, you will need to have the vehicle inspected to confirm the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and the vehicle’s condition. Of course, if you are buying a car in Idaho from out of state, you will need to learn your state’s laws regarding registering your vehicle.

You must register the vehicle in person unless you are exempt because of military service, attending school out of state, or for other valid reasons. After the initial registration, you may renew annually online. Failure to register your vehicle or to renew and pay your registration fees annually can result in significant fines.

The registration cost in Idaho varies depending on the vehicle’s type and model year. For a motor vehicle less than 8,000 pounds, the registration fee is $69 if it is less than two years old, $57 for a car more than two but less than seven years old, and $49 for vehicles more than seven years old. The registration fees for large trucks, motor homes, and other large vehicles are significantly greater than for typical consumer cars and trucks.

Also read:What Paperwork Do I Need To Sell A Car?

There are so many reasons why people may want to sell their motor vehicles. According to 2022 surveys, the most common reason people a...

Article by Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson is a legal writer at Lawrina. Megan writes about different law practice areas, legal innovations, and shares her knowledge about her legal practice. As a graduate of the American University's Washington College of Law she is an expert of law in Lawrina's team and has a slight editing touch to all content that is published on the website.

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