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Selling a Car in Florida - Here's How to Do It

By Autolist Staff | May 30, 2019

Selling a car in Florida as a private party is not the most streamlined process. There are many rules and regulations to sell a vehicle in the State of Florida legally. One of the most important is filing a notice of sale to remove your liability for the car you sold. As of 2009, filing this notice is state law for selling a used car in Florida. Read on to find more Florida laws and regulations for selling a motor vehicle.

What to Do Before Selling a Car

To allow buyers to test drive your vehicle, you will need to procure a temporary license plate tag. To get that tag, you'll need proof of insurance. A title transfer is a must to make a car sale legal in Florida. If your paper title is lost, then you'll need to apply for a duplicate title before listing your care for sale. You can do this by filling out form HSMV 82101 and submitting it to the DMV. Some counties offer expedited service, but for a fee. If you have an electronic title, then both you the seller and your buyer must visit a motor vehicle service center to fill out a secure title reassignment form. Both parties must be present and have a photo ID.

How to Advertise Your Used Car For Sale

It's against Florida law to park a vehicle on private or public property with the purpose of selling it if you don't have permission from the property owner. That means that you can't park your vehicle in a high traffic area in hopes of attracting interested buyers. Another potential issue is that Florida law considers you to be a motor vehicle dealer if you buy, sell, or display for sale more than two vehicles in any 12-month period. That also means that you'll need a state license identifying yourself as such. In other words, it's best to advertise your vehicle in classified listings, online auto sites and display the vehicle on your property.

What if You Have an Existing Lien?

That is a complex issue for a private party sale. It's illegal in Florida to sell a vehicle privately with an existing lien. To sell the motor vehicle, the lien first has to be satisfied. When the lien holder reports the satisfaction to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, then the vehicle can be sold and the title transfer completed. In the case of a private party sale, the potential buyer would have first to pay off your lien, and then you would go through the title transfer process. If you have a lien on a car, it might be easier to unload it as a trade-in at a dealer. The dealer then has to satisfy the lien within ten days before reselling the vehicle.

Non-Florida Vehicles Must Complete a VIN Inspection

If the vehicle being sold did not previously have a title in Florida, then the seller must verify the VIN and odometer reading. To do this, you will out a form and verify it as the owner, along with one of the following officials:

  • FLHSMV compliance officer

  • Licensed Florida vehicle dealership

  • Law enforcement officer

  • Florida public notary

Sale Completion

Though it's not a Florida law, it is highly recommended that car buyers and sellers complete the transaction in a motor vehicle service center. That protects both parties in that the seller is having the title transferred out of their name, and the buyer can verify that the seller gave them all the proper documents. Sellers will also have to complete the title transfer section on the title form. The name and address of the new owner must be included, as well as the odometer reading, selling price and sold date. There is a specific space for an odometer reading on the Florida title, and it is required that both the seller and buyer verify this disclosure during the process.

Important Seller Protection

As previously mentioned, the filing of form HSMV 82050 (the notice of sale) is an essential action to take when you sell a vehicle. Once you file this, it removes your name from the vehicle as a registered owner. It keeps you from being liable for anything the vehicle does from that time on. Once you've filed this, it's entirely on the buyer to apply for a new title and registration to legally operate the vehicle. If you don't submit this form, then you could be held liable for anything the vehicle does, despite no longer owning it. It's also recommended that you keep any other information to show the vehicle was sold, such as the bill of sale or a copy of the certificate of title showing the new owner's name and address.

Remove the License Plates

In a Florida sale, the plates must stay with the seller, not the vehicle. The seller needs to remove the plates and can then transfer them to a replacement vehicle. However, if the seller moves to another state or cancels insurance on the vehicle with the license plates, then they must return the plates to a motor vehicle service center.

Extra Tips for Selling a Car in Florida

  • Obtain at least one offer from a car buying company to get an accurate cash value for your vehicle in a wholesale capacity

  • Trade in your vehicle at a dealership for the fastest and least complicated sale

  • Understand the difference between selling to a car buying service and a dealership. Carmax and AutoBuy are examples of the former. Car buyers are likely to give you a better price vs. a dealership.

  • You will pay less sales tax when you trade in a car at the same time as buying a new one. If you buy a car for $30,000, you would typically owe a six percent sales tax, which comes to $1,800. If you get $10,000 on your trade-in, then your tax obligation goes down to $1,200

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