Buying and Selling a Motorcycle in Wisconsin

Parked white motorcycle

From calm countryside rides to urban city explorations, Wisconsin offers a superb setting for motorcycle enthusiasts. The state holds a promise of two-wheel adventure for over 300,000 registered motorcyclists.

Buying and selling a motorcycle in Wisconsin has its own set of directions to follow. Being familiar with the process and required documents can help ensure it’s a hassle-free experience.

Here’s our guide to navigating this process in the Badger State.

Bill of Sale & Seller Notification

A Bill of Sale is not required when buying or selling a motorcycle in Wisconsin. It is very strongly encouraged to use one when transferring ownership, however. You can add a layer of protection for yourself by keeping it for your records. It will prove useful should any type of dispute arise.

Traditionally, it’s the seller’s duty to present and complete the Bill of Sale. Providing a copy to the buyer is a nice gesture that simplifies the transaction for both parties. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) offers a Bill of Sale template on their website.

The document should consist of the motorcycle’s year, make, model, mileage, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). It must also mention the names and addresses of both parties, with designated space for signatures. Write in the final sales price.

When selling a motorcycle in Wisconsin, accurately disclosing the mileage is required by law. You may face severe penalties if you fail to do so. Both parties should meticulously check that all information is correct before signing and dating the Bill of Sale.

Although not a requisite, having the Bill of Sale notarized can add another extra layer of security to the transaction. Both parties should retain a copy of the document for their records.

Separate from the Bill of Sale, motorcycle sellers must submit a seller notification to the Wisconsin DOT. This must be done within 30 days of the sale date. The notification requires recording of the VIN, sale price, sale date, and a valid form of identification.

Title Transfer

Transferring the Certificate of Title is the next step in legally establishing motorcycle ownership. Once the transaction is finalized and payment has been received, the title is signed over to the buyer.

The seller should write in the buyer’s name, sales price and sign the transfer section of the title. Like the Bill of Sale, ensure all information is accurate. Snap a photo of the completed and signed title before handing it over to the buyer to document the transaction.

If the title is missing, the seller should request a replacement title via the Wisconsin DOT website. The buyer is required to complete a new title application and submit the original title signed by the seller to the DOT.

Some motorcycle sellers may be exempt from completing the odometer disclosure statement. Others may be required to disclose a branding notation on the title if the motorcycle meets certain criteria. Check the Wisconsin DOT website to see what is necessary for your situation.

In Wisconsin, you may transfer the title if there is a lien listed on it. However, you must first settle the lien with the lienholder. Once complete, provide the buyer with the lien release document in addition to the title. The buyer will need both for a successful transfer.


Once the title has been transferred and any liens have been satisfied, registering the motorcycle with the state is the ensuing step. The buyer should be prepared to present the following per Wisconsin’s DOT guidelines:

  • The signed Certificate of Title (including odometer reading and lien release, if applicable).
  • A valid Wisconsin Class M license.
  • Proof of valid motorcycle insurance.
  • Payment for applicable fees.

Wisconsin requires the following minimums for insurance coverage: $25,000 per injured person, up to $50,000 for everyone injured in an accident, and $10,000 for property damage.

After registering your motorcycle, you must display your license plate or temporary plate within two business days to legally operate the vehicle.


Registration fees in Wisconsin are generally straightforward. They can vary slightly based on factors such as motorcycle weight and county of residence. Common fees include:

  • Vehicle plate (or registration transfer) fee
  • Title fee
  • State sales tax
  • Local sales tax

Some circumstances may require additional fees. Forms MV1-1 and MV1-2 include instructions on how to calculate your specific fee structure. For speedier service, complete this prior to your appointment. However, the DMV can assist if you are having any trouble.

Wisconsin also offers online and mail-in options for titles and registrations in some situations.


With this knowledge, we hope maneuvering through the process of buying or selling a motorcycle in Wisconsin is less daunting. Advice specific to your situation can be sought from your local DMV.

What’s the next motorcycle adventure you’re eyeing in Wisconsin? Share your desires!

For a deeper guide, explore our comprehensive resources on how to buy a motorcycle and how to sell a motorcycle.

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