Rhode Island Bill of Sale

Use a bill of sale when transferring ownership of a boat, car, firearm, or any other high-value item in Rhode Island. Bills of sale can prove ownership, as well as protect buyers and sellers should legal disputes arise. Learn what a bill of sale is and how to draft one that will work.

Rhode Island Bill of Sale Forms by Type

Important Terms for a Bill of Sale

  • Seller: The person selling the item is called the primary seller. The bill of sale should include information, such as their name and address. It may also list additional sellers.
  • Buyer: The person paying for the item is the buyer. The bill of sale should include their name and address, along with information about any additional buyers.
  • Sales tax: If the sold item is subject to sales tax, the bill of sale should explain how much sales tax should be paid and whether the tax is included in the price. 
  • Property: The item that’s being sold is the “property.” The bill of sale will list the date of sale and a description of the property. 
  • Property location: This is where the property is located, such as county or state.
  • Witness information: Some bills of sale must be witnessed to be legally binding. A witness can be a third party or a notary public. The bill of sale should include their contact information, too.
  • As-is: If a bill of sale lists the item as being sold “as-is,” then the buyer agrees to purchase the item in its current state with no holds on the seller. 
  • Gift: If someone is giving another person a large gift, a gift bill of sale can help both parties file taxes during the next year.
  • Certification/Signature: All parties need to sign a bill of sale to finalize the transfer of ownership. Physical signatures are always accepted. Digital signatures are acceptable if they are received through a certified digital signature provider such as PandaDoc.

1. Rhode Island Bill of Sale Requirements

Whether you’re buying or selling, getting a bill of sale is a good idea. Sometimes, it’s required by law. In Rhode Island, you must use a bill of sale to transfer ownership of motor vehicles, boats, or firearms. You can draft one or use a template provided by PandaDoc

Should you draft a bill of sale on your own, be aware of the requirements it needs to satisfy to be valid in Rhode Island.

Why Use a Bill of Sale?

Outside of the legal requirements it fulfills, a bill of sale also bestows legal protections. It provides the seller with a record confirming that they are no longer responsible for the asset. It also gives the buyer proof of ownership. Both parties may avoid legal disputes by presenting a bill of sale.

Additional Considerations

Language Requirements

There are no language requirements for a bill of sale in Rhode Island. However, the state offers most of its legal documents in English only. You can work with an interpreter to get your bill of sale officially translated. 

Find a state-certified interpreter through the assistance of the Rhode Island Judiciary’s Office Of Court Interpreters.

Number of Copies

If you’re transferring ownership of a motor vehicle or a boat, a copy of the bill of sale should go to the titling agency. Therefore, boat and car sales require completing the bill of sale in triplicate. The buyer, the seller, and the titling agency must each have a copy.

Otherwise, filling out the bill of sale in duplicate should be enough: one copy for the buyer and another for the seller. 

Non-Titled Vehicles

Rhode Island does not title vehicles older than 20 years. To register ownership of one such vehicle, an owner must present a bill of sale, identification, and an application for registration

The registration process can make it clear to the buyer that they are purchasing a potentially less reliable vehicle. 

After Purchasing a Vehicle

The bill of sale is not enough to complete a vehicle ownership transfer in Rhode Island. Several additional documents are required before the transaction can be made official. 

If You’re the Seller

In Rhode Island, anyone selling a car must fill out the back of the title with the buyer’s information, then give the title to the buyer along with the bill of sale. The bill of sale must include an accurate odometer reading. If the title is lost or destroyed, the seller can request a new one from the Rhode Island DMV.

The vehicle seller must give the buyer a bill of sale containing the following information:

  • Make
  • Model
  • VIN
  • Color
  • Purchase price
  • Buyer and seller contact information 
  • Signatures of buyer and seller 

If You’re the Buyer

Buyers have 30 days to title and register new vehicles in Rhode Island before they face late fees. To complete the registration process, buyers must provide:

  • Vehicle title
  • Owner’s identification
  • Proof of insurance
  • Vehicle’s previous registration
  • Lienholder information (if applicable)
  • Financing statements (if applicable)
  • Registration and titling fees

The buyer must also pay sales tax based on the purchase price of the vehicle. If the car is less than 20 years old, the buyer must also have the police give the car a VIN inspection.

2. Rhode Island Car (Vehicle) Bill of Sale

Getting a bill of sale in Rhode Island is legally required to transfer vehicle ownership. The state provides a summary of responsibilities during a vehicle transaction for both the seller and the buyer. 

However, the bill of sale is not enough to complete the transfer of ownership. The bill of sale must also be presented at the DMV, as it provides an official record for use in resolving legal and tax issues.

3. Rhode Island Boat Bill of Sale

In Rhode Island, any watercraft longer than 12 feet or powered by a motor is required to have a title. It also needs to go through a registration process.

Any time you register a boat, a bill of sale is required. The Rhode Island Department of Environment Management recommends using the official US Coast Guard Bill of Sale, which should include the boat’s hull ID number and vessel name.

Even if you are selling only an offboard motor, you must still use a bill of sale for registration purposes. This bill of sale must include the motor’s VIN, make, and model. 

4. Rhode Island Firearm Bill of Sale

You are not required to register firearms in Rhode Island. However, a permit is required to buy certain firearms. Sales of firearms also require a bill of sale

The bill of sale should include the make, model, and any other identifying characteristics of the firearm. Both the buyer and the seller are protected by the bill of sale’s detailed record of ownership.

5. Rhode Island Horse or Livestock Bill of Sale

Livestock bills of sale in Rhode Island must include: 

  • Number of animals
  • Weight
  • Breed
  • Price
  • Date of transaction
  • General description of animals

It is illegal to transport any livestock in Rhode Island in connection with a purchase unless the transporter has a copy of the bill of sale. 

6. Rhode Island General Bill of Sale 

A general bill of sale is used to prove the purchase of any non-regulated item. The information included is often the bare minimum information required in any bill of sale, such as: 

  • Item description
  • Purchase price
  • Date of sale
  • Contact information
  • Signatures

FAQ: About the Rhode Island Bill of Sale

What is a bill of sale? 

A bill of sale establishes the terms of a property transfer. It also provides proof of the transaction. Bills of sale are drafted by the seller in almost every case.

How does a bill of sale benefit the buyer? 

A buyer may run into legal issues even after a purchase is completed. Someone can take out a lien against the property, or the seller can make false claims. A bill of sale protects the buyer against being held responsible for undisclosed or fabricated information.

Bills of sale also may be important during legally required registration or taxation. 

How do I get a bill of sale? 

Anyone can draft a bill of sale in Rhode Island. As long as the document has been signed by the buyer and the seller, it can be legally binding. Getting a bill of sale notarized can help it hold up in court. 

Bills of sale shouldn’t be complicated. You can draft your own or work with a service like PandaDoc to create a streamlined bill of sale. Working with professionals may be a better choice for transactions involving sensitive assets, as it guarantees that all required information has been included. 

What information do I need for a bill of sale?

Certain items registered with the state must include specific information on the bill of sale. For example, a vehicle bill of sale requires an odometer reading and VIN.

Otherwise, bills of sale generally include some or all of the following information: 

  • Date of purchase
  • Buyer and seller’s contact information
  • Purchase price
  • Description of the sold item
  • Guarantee that the asset is cleared of any liens or claims
  • Ongoing terms, such as warranties
  • Signatures of buyer and seller
  • Signature of a notary public

Bill of Sale Forms by State

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