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Vehicle Title vs Registration vs Bill of Sale

  • 2 min read

The vehicle title, registration, and bill of sale are all very important documents to have as a vehicle owner. These three documents may seem similar, but they have very different purposes. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between each document.

Vehicle title

The vehicle title, also known as the certificate of title, is a legal document issued by the department of motor vehicles in your state that assigns ownership over a particular vehicle. In addition to serving as proof of ownership, the vehicle title may also be used to transfer ownership of a car.


The registration document is required by law before you can legally drive a car on public roads. This document contains information about the vehicle’s make, model, year, and VIN (vehicle identification number). It also includes your name as well as any other individuals who are listed as owners of the vehicle. Since the name of the registrants does not equate to ownership, the registration by itself is often not considered sufficient proof of ownership.

Bill of sale

The bill of sale is the receipt from the transaction of the vehicle. It states who sold the vehicle, who bought it, and for how much. The bill of sale does not assign ownership, it only serves as proof of the transaction.

The vehicle title, registration, and bill of sale together form a crucial paper trail for any vehicle owner. By understanding the distinctions between each document, you will avoid confusion should you ever have to refer to them again. And if you’re shopping for a vehicle, this background knowledge will aid in your decision-making process.

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