Bill of sale vs. title: what’s the difference?

A man and a woman reviewing the terms of a bill of sale and title for a car they are purchasing.

Everything you need to know for your next big purchase.

Making a big purchase involves a lot of paperwork. But it’s all necessary to ensure your purchase is safe and legal. The two main documents involved in major sales, like the purchase of a vehicle, are the bill of sale and the title. These are different documents, but they are equally important and, in most cases, both are required. Learn about each one and the differences between a bill of sale vs. title that make these two separate documents.

What is a bill of sale?

What’s the difference between a bill of sale vs. title? Is a bill of sale the same as a title?

A bill of sale is a legal document that proves a transfer of ownership between a seller and a buyer. It frees the seller from liability and gives the buyer proof of ownership. The seller is responsible for drawing up the bill of sale form, and the buyer should carefully review it before signing. Most states require this document for sales of vehicles or large animals when they’re registering your ownership.

It is important to note that a bill of sale does not necessarily indicate total ownership of a vehicle. While it can help protect you from malicious lawsuits, true ownership is generally only able to be proven with possession of a title. You can, however, use them to supplement your tax records and financial statements for your vehicle’s purchase.

A bill of sale does not have to be digital to be considered valid. Both handwritten and digital formats are generally acceptable, as long as all necessary information is listed and you have the consent of both parties.

What is a title?

In short, you need a bill of sale in order to obtain a title. This answers the question of is the bill of sale same as the title, as you’ll need one to get the other. Think of the two documents as complementary. While a bill of sale certifies a transfer of ownership between two parties, a title certifies the buyer’s legal ownership. It’s the final step in the process and proves that the buyer is the legal owner.

How to fill out a bill of sale.

Filling out a bill of sale can be simple with Adobe Acrobat. The first step to take is to locate a template either from your digital document software library or any existing electronic template. Consider choosing a comprehensive or complete template, that includes:

If you have a paper template, scan it as a PDF.

You can prepare it for signature and add any relevant interactive blocks for your fellow signees. To do this, simply:

  1. Open your file. This may have been saved to your desktop, downloads file or “My Computer.”
  2. Navigate to the right side, and look for the pen icon. This is the “Sign” icon in your toolbar. You can also get here by choosing Tools > Fill & Sign or the right-hand pane’s Fill & Sign prompt.
  3. Follow the prompts. You’ll be able to select Fill & Sign from the dialog box that populates on screen. Adobe will find the blank form fields automatically — at which point you can click to sign.
  4. Request signatures. You can now send out the prepared document using the Request e-signatures tool to collect other signers’ signatures virtually.

Bill of sale template.

When looking for a bill of sale template online, it’s generally best to source it from a reputable source. Sites affiliated with legal firms, professional services, or state-specific sites are generally the safest places to go for your bill of sale format for car.

Generally, your bill of sale will look something like this:

Date: ____________________________

Agreement clause: (This area will state a 1-2 sentence statement that outlines the clause that both members of the agreement are committing to. Language may vary, but it can include language such as: “This bill of sale was created on ___________, and is executed by (names). This agreement was witnessed by (names). This agreement was created with the intent to be legally binding.)

Seller’s Information:

Name: ___________________________

Date of birth: ______________________

Address: ______________________________________________


Email: ____________________________

Phone number: ( ) ______________

Buyer’s Information:

Name: ___________________________

Date of birth: ______________________

Address: ______________________________________________


Email: ____________________________

Phone number: ( ) ______________

Items to be sold: ______________________________________________________________

While you can get bill of sale templates online, it is best to have legal counsel review and approve the form. This ensures that there’s nothing done incorrectly or left incomplete, potentially limiting any liability you may face as a result of the sale.

Acrobat Pro easily lets you put together a quick sales agreement or bill of sale format for a car. In just a few minutes you can create a form, add fields for legally binding signatures, and collect the final approvals needed — empowering you to share, sign and collaborate seamlessly.

Adobe Acrobat integrates with your daily use applications, such as Microsoft Office Suite, Google Chrome, Dropbox, and more, with hundreds of integrations available at your fingertips. You can also benefit from enterprise-level APIs and custom integrations to support your team in doing more, better.

Learn what else you can do with Adobe Acrobat Sign to make your transactions simple and seamless.