Bill of sale

A document that transfers ownership of an asset from one person to another. An AA bill of sale is a legal document that transfers ownership of an asset from a seller to a buyer. It serves as evidence of a transaction and typically outlines the details of the sale, including information about the buyer, seller, the date of sale, the purchase price, and a description of the item being sold. In addition to serving as proof of purchase, it may also be used for tax purposes and is often required for the registration or transfer of ownership of vehicles and other significant assets.

Key takeaways

  • Definition: A bill of sale is a legal document confirming the transfer of ownership of an asset from a seller to a buyer.
  • How it works: It records transaction specifics such as the asset's description, sale price, and the parties' details, legitimizing the exchange.
  • Types: There are several types, including equipment, vehicle, bulk goods, warehouse, inventory, and business bills of sale, each with specialized terms.
  • Pros and cons: Offers legal protection and clarity, but comes with potential for administrative burden and errors.
  • Explore your options: For financing semi truck purchases, TAB Bank and TAFS provide loans that work in tandem with bills of sale, easing the acquisition process.

How it works

When executing the sale of a semi truck, a bill of sale is the foundational document facilitating this transfer of ownership. This critical legal form records essential details such as the truck’s make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), and mileage, anchoring the transaction with clarity and precision. It's not only a declaration of intent by the seller but also a covenant of acceptance by the buyer, solidified by the exchange of payment and culminating in the affixing of signatures.

The agreement details, including the purchase price and any supplementary terms, are meticulously outlined in the bill of sale, making it indispensable for both parties. Upon signing, ideally in the presence of a notary for added legal standing, the document becomes a powerful testament to the transfer of the asset. 

Subsequently, the buyer utilizes the bill of sale to proceed with the registration and titling of the semi truck, a process that legally solidifies their new ownership. This step is often navigated at a local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or an equivalent regulatory body, ensuring that the semi truck is recognized under the new owner’s name in official records. 

Bill of sale types

Equipment  bill of sale

This document serves as proof of purchase for any piece of equipment involved in supply chain operations. It's detailed, listing the condition, specific characteristics, and any warranties or guarantees. It's critical for asset tracking and accounting purposes.

Vehicle bill of sale

For the transfer of company vehicles, this document includes not just the make, model, and VIN, but also information about any liens, odometer readings, and special terms of sale. It's a necessary step in the legal transfer and is often required for insurance purposes.

Bulk goods  bill of sale

When transferring ownership of bulk materials like oil, grain, or minerals, this bill of sale will detail the quantity and condition of the goods, price per unit, and total cost. It might also include the method of delivery and any inspection requirements.

Warehouse  bill of sale

This comprehensive document will include the location, size, and specifications of the warehouse, as well as any included equipment or fixtures. It might also outline responsibilities regarding taxes, utilities, and insurance until the transfer is complete.

Inventory bill of sale

Essential during the sale of business inventory, this document itemizes the products being sold, providing a detailed list including SKU numbers, descriptions, quantities, and prices. It's vital for inventory management and financial records.

Business bill of sale

When an entire business entity or a subsidiary is sold, this bill includes all the assets and liabilities being transferred. It’s more complex, often accompanied by contracts and agreements that address intellectual property, customer lists, ongoing contracts, and employee transitions.

Pros and cons


  • Legal protection: A bill of sale acts as a legal contract, providing evidence that a transaction has occurred. It's essential in protecting rights, stating the exact date of sale, and detailing the agreement terms. In the event of a legal dispute, it serves as a defense for both the buyer and seller.
  • Clear record: This document serves as an unambiguous record of the transaction. It can be critical for financial record-keeping, helping to track the history of asset ownership, and is necessary for tax reporting, especially for capital assets like semi trucks.
  • Ownership transfer: The bill of sale is the formal instrument for transferring ownership. It's often required for the registration of vehicles or other licensable assets. In the sale of a semi truck, it helps to establish the buyer’s legal ownership, which is essential for insurance and registration purposes.
  • Dispute resolution: Should any disagreements arise about the transaction, the bill of sale is a key piece of evidence that can help quickly resolve issues. It specifies the asset sold, the sale price, and the conditions of the sale, which can be pivotal in legal disputes.
  • Confidence in transaction: With a bill of sale, both parties can proceed with the transaction with greater confidence. It signifies that the sale is bona fide and that both parties have agreed to the terms. This is especially important in high-value transactions such as those involving heavy machinery or large quantities of goods.


  • Administrative burden: The creation and maintenance of a bill of sale add an administrative layer to the transaction. It requires drafting, which may necessitate legal help, and safe storage as a critical business document.
  • Errors and omissions: Mistakes in the bill of sale, such as incorrect asset descriptions or sale terms, can lead to significant legal challenges. Ensuring accuracy is crucial; otherwise, the document’s effectiveness as a legal instrument can be compromised.
  • State regulations: Different states may have varying requirements for a bill of sale, which can complicate matters, particularly for businesses operating across state lines. Compliance with these regulations is essential but can be onerous.
  • Fraud risk: The risk of fraud exists if the authenticity of the bill of sale is not properly verified. This is especially significant in private sales where one party may be less familiar with legal requirements or the asset’s condition, such as a used semi truck.
  • Transfer limitations: The bill of sale documents the transfer of ownership, but it doesn't cover the condition of the asset post-sale unless expressly included. Buyers may need additional warranties or guarantees for assets like semi trucks to ensure they meet specified conditions.

Explore your options

With a comprehensive understanding of bills of sale and their pivotal role in the purchase and sale of assets such as semi trucks, you're well-equipped to navigate these transactions. If you're in the market for financing to secure a semi truck, TAB Bank and TAFS offer loan services that could facilitate your acquisition. Both institutions are seasoned in the commercial vehicle sector and provide financial products designed with the buyer's needs in mind. 

Collaborating with TAB or TAFS can simplify the purchasing process, offering financial solutions that complement the use of a bill of sale, ensuring a seamless transition of ownership, and putting you on the road to expanding your fleet and business operations.

Bill of sale | FreightWaves Ratings
FreightWaves Ratings cuts through the noise of freight technology product reviews to make you a smarter buyer