How to handle the handover process when selling your car

A private sale can be a rewarding experience and more often than not leave you with a better deal than a trade-in. However, a private sale does come with an element of uncertainty and vulnerability, especially in the handover process. It is important when a seller is handing over their vehicle to a buyer that they understand the risks that can occur. Following the information below can create a simple and smooth handover process, keeping you safe and financially bruise-free.


More often than not, a seller won’t personally know their buyer and therefore should err on the side of caution when organising a meeting, inspecting the vehicle and/or going for a test drive. Aiming to sell your car fast shouldn’t be at the expense of your physical safety and personal finance. Some simple strategies to use could be:

  • Take any valuables or personal items out of the vehicle and leave extra cash or credit cards at home.
  • Take a photo of the buyer’s drivers license with your phone or manually take down their details. Make sure their license isn’t expired and matches the description.
  • Take someone with you or at least tell someone what you are doing, where you are planning to go and send them a copy of the buyers’ details.
  • Ask the buyer if they are planning to come by themselves or they wish to bring someone along. If the buyer has brought a large group, you will need to know first and avoid letting them all come. If you get a bad feeling follow your gut and decline.
  • If you feel uncomfortable meeting at your residential address, meet in a public space.

The owner of a vehicle doesn’t necessarily have to join the buyer on the test drive, however it is important when organising a test drive to weigh up the possible pros and cons and decide which option to take before they arrive. Joining the buyer during the test drive can mean that you can show them the best route to test the car, monitor the activity making sure they don’t drive away and set a limit for how long they drive. In contrast, you may feel uncomfortable joining the buyer and the buyer may also feel pressured thinking they don’t have freedom to test the car. All in all, be smart about the choice you make and ensure that your car insurance policy covers other drivers regardless.

Be aware that once the buyer is keen to purchase your vehicle, they may want to take some photos or videos of the interior and exterior. This may be as evidence of specific parts and/or features during the period between test driving it and purchasing it to ensure nothing changes.

Payment and scams

It is important when organising the transfer of money for the vehicle that you choose a legitimate and safe method of payment and you are thorough in tracking the proof of this. Although it may be tedious, having valid evidence throughout the process will be important in the event of faulty payment.

Each individual’s preference of payment varies, however some options include: a direct electronic transfer, a bank cheque or a meeting at the buyer’s bank branch. This can offer immediate assurance of a complete payment.

It is important to try and keep communication between yourself and the buyer through the platform you are selling with and to have met up before the buyer wants to pay.

If the buyer claims they are ‘overseas’ and/or wants to keep all communication online this could be an indicator of a scam.

Don’t have the car picked up by a company without having met the buyer.

Furthermore, if you receive an inquiry via email about your car however the number to call is disconnected, this can also be an indicator of a scam.

Ensure that you have received the entire transfer of money and it is cleared by the bank before finalising the sale. Similarly, be wary if the buyer has over paid you and wishes for you to transfer them money back.

Paperwork evidence

It is very important once the payment is in the bank, that the seller then writes a receipt for both themselves and the buyer. This receipt should include: the amount paid, the time and date it was paid and the vehicle’s details including model and registration.

Furthermore, following this receipt any required vehicle transfer documentation or letter of disposal is required. The following documentation is also optional:

  • Registration and Road Worthy Check
  • Service book and owner’s manual
  • Hard evidence of any agreement between the buyer and seller on payment of repairs and the terms and conditions negotiated

Note: Requirements for sellers and buyers and the documentations needed varies from state to state. Refer to our private car selling guide for the specific responsibilities for your state.


Lastly, when handing over a vehicle to the seller, the buyer should make sure they remove the license plates if the registration is cancelled, any personal items in the car and cancel the E-Tag. The seller can than hand the buyer the keys, any spare keys and/or accessories.


The vehicle hand over process doesn’t have to be a daunting, scary experience, but rather a planned, efficient and safe process. It is important to follow the steps above as well as your gut instinct. Never give the keys to the buyer until completely sure the money has been transferred and there is proof of payment.