Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale Form


A Rhode Island motor vehicle bill of sale form authenticates the transfer of vehicle ownership from a seller to a buyer. This document highlights the most essential information about the sale, such as the vehicle’s make, model, year, and the sale price mutually agreed upon by both parties. Additionally, it aids in the vehicle’s registration and title transfer through the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). To prevent potential disputes and ensure a seamless transition of ownership, it is critical for both the seller and buyer to fill out the form meticulously. Proper completion of a bill of sale circumvents legal issues and promotes a transparent and responsible vehicle sales process.

  • Statutes: Title 31
  • Signing Requirements: Both the seller and the buyer must sign the form.

What is a Rhode Island Car Bill of Sale?

A Rhode Island car bill of sale formally acknowledges the vehicle transaction between the seller and buyer. It records vital details such as the vehicle’s identification number (VIN), the odometer mileage at the time of sale, and the contact information of both involved parties. The seller must also disclose any warranties or specify the vehicle’s condition to avert future disagreements. Both parties should keep a copy of the completed form for future reference and potential needs by the Rhode Island DMV or other governmental entities.

What are the Buyer’s Responsibilities?

In acquiring a vehicle in Rhode Island, the buyer must undertake specific responsibilities to ensure the transaction happens legally and smoothly. The following steps guide buyers during the process.

  1. Inspect the Vehicle: Conduct a comprehensive inspection, possibly with the assistance of a trusted mechanic, to evaluate the vehicle’s condition.
  2. Verify the Title: Confirm that the seller possesses a clear title for the vehicle, free from any liens or encumbrances.
  3. Complete the Bill of SaleCollaborate with the seller to accurately complete the form, ensuring it includes all necessary information, such as the VIN, sale price, and odometer reading.
  4. Execute the Title Transfer: With the seller, fill out the relevant sections on the vehicle title, ensuring both parties sign and date the document.
  5. Register the Vehicle: With the bill of sale and signed title, visit the Rhode Island DMV or an authorized agent to register the vehicle. Be prepared to pay any applicable registration and title transfer fees.
  6. Secure Insurance: Obtain an insurance policy before driving the vehicle, which is a prerequisite for registration. Always carry proof of insurance when operating the vehicle. 

Buyers should keep all documents about the transaction and vehicle ownership for their records, aiding in verification and ownership proof.

What are the Seller’s Responsibilities?

When selling a vehicle in Rhode Island, the seller must adhere to specific steps to ensure a legal and straightforward sale. The information below highlights these crucial steps:

  1. Prepare the Vehicle: Clean it thoroughly and address any necessary repairs to make it presentable and saleable. 
  2. Assess the Vehicle’s Value: Use online tools or a professional appraisal to accurately price the vehicle, ensuring it aligns with the market value.  
  3. Compile Important Documents: Before listing the vehicle, assemble all necessary documentation, including the title and a recent emissions test report, if applicable. 
  4. Market the Vehicle: Create an appealing advertisement, providing thorough descriptions and pictures to attract potential buyers. 
  5. Complete a Bill of Sale: Upon finding a willing buyer, collaborate to fill out the bill of sale accurately, including details like the VIN, agreed sale price, and odometer reading. 
  6. Conclude the Title Transfer: Visit a Rhode Island DMV agent with the buyer to finalize the title transfer and sale, ensuring compliance with all state regulations for a legal transaction. 

By following these steps, sellers can ensure a successful and regulatory-compliant sale, contributing to a positive experience for both parties.

How to Register a Car in Rhode Island (4 Steps)

Motor vehicle registration must occur for new or current owners to drive legally on public roads. Following vehicle acquisition, new owners have a twenty (20) day window to complete the registration process with the Rhode Island DMV. This process includes submitting required documents, paying associated fees, and obtaining valid in-state license plates. These steps ensure compliance with state laws, promoting road safety and legal vehicle operation.

Step 1 – Insurance

Obtaining an active auto insurance policy is mandatory for vehicle owners in Rhode Island, ensuring compliance with state laws and protection in case of accidents. Vehicle owners should consult licensed insurance agents or companies in the state to compare policies and select suitable coverage according to their needs and budget. Proof of insurance is crucial for the registration process, as the owner must present it to the DMV.

The policy should meet minimum liability insurance requirements, which include:

  1. Bodily Injury Liability: This coverage deals with costs related to injuries to others in accidents where the insured is at fault, with minimum coverage amounts specified by state law.  
  2. Property Damage Liability: This aspect covers damage to another person’s property in an accident where the insured is at fault, with a minimum coverage amount as required by state law. 
  3. Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Although not mandatory, it covers the policyholder’s expenses in accidents with uninsured drivers, with coverage levels chosen by the policyholder.

Experts advise choosing high coverage amounts to protect against significant financial liabilities in severe accidents.

Step 2 – Safety & Emissions Inspection

Rhode Island mandates vehicle inspections to ensure compliance with safety and emissions standards and are typically required every two (2) years. Inspections are conducted at authorized stations, assessing the vehicle’s compliance with emissions standards and the functionality of safety components such as brakes, lights, and tires.

Newly purchased used vehicles should be inspected within ten (10) days post-sale unless a valid inspection sticker is already displayed. Regular inspections help maintain vehicle safety and adherence to environmental standards.

Step 3 – Title & Registration

A valid title and registration are necessary to own and operate a vehicle in Rhode Island. The process involves:

  1. Possessing a Valid Rhode Island Driver’s License: A prerequisite for vehicle registration in the state.
  2. Securing Proper Insurance: Ensure the vehicle has the proper insurance policy to meet state requirements.
  3. Collecting Necessary Documents:  
    1. Proof of Ownership: A vehicle title or bill of sale to demonstrate ownership.
    2. Proof of Insurance: Evidence of an active insurance policy.
    3. Application for Registration and/or Title (Form TR-1): Required for registering and titling vehicles in Rhode Island. 
  4. Visiting the Rhode Island DMV: Submit the gathered documents and payment to a DMV office to complete the process.

These steps ensure a smooth titling and registration process, granting legal ownership and the right to drive on state roads.

Step 4 – Renew

The DMV handles vehicle registration renewal notices in Rhode Island. They send information approximately three (3) months before current tags expire. Vehicle owners can renew online, by mail, or in person, following instructions on the renewal notice. Online renewal requires a PIN from the notice and proof of valid insurance. Mail-in renewal involves completing the application and sending it with fees to the DMV. In-person renewal at a DMV office requires the renewal notice, proof of insurance, and payment of renewal fees, offering a straightforward way to maintain vehicle registration validity.