You can either sell or purchase a used car in Ontario.

It is imperative that you do the following before listing your used car for sale:

  • purchase a Vehicle History Report
  • Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) against the one listed on your permit (the "green ownership document").
  • You should make sure there is no outstanding balance on the car.

Obtain a Used Car Buyer's Guide by Purchasing a Guide

During a sale

Give the buyer these items when you sell your car:

  • The Comprehensive Guide to Buying a Used Car
  • a Bill of Sale including the date, the buyer's name and address, the purchase price, and your signature.
  • application for transfer (located on the back of the license, in the vehicle section) that has been filled out and signed by the owner
  • proof that the vehicle satisfies legal requirements for safety certification.
    • This is something that can only be obtained from a certified mechanic.
    • On the green and white sign, which reads "Ontario Motor Vehicle Inspection Station," you'll find the station.

You keep:

  • the plates that identify your vehicle (license plates go with the driver, not the car).
  • the "plate" part of your license (title).
    • This is required in order to transfer your license plates to a new vehicle.
    • Plate stickers with full months remaining can be returned for a refund as well.

Pay back the cost of your license plate decal

Learn if a car has a financial obligation

If there is any outstanding debt or payment due on your vehicle, you can find out with the help of a Used Vehicle Information Package.

The Personal Property Security Branch of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services can provide details about any liens (a legal claim on a vehicle as collateral for a debt) on the vehicle.

Around Toronto: 416-325-8847
Simply dial 1-800-267-8847 at no cost to you.
TTY: 416-326-8866 (for the deaf and hard of hearing)

Consider purchasing a pre-owned vehicle.

It is important to do the following before purchasing a used car:

  • It's important to thoroughly inspect the vehicle's background, including the service records.
  • Look up the car's previous results in emissions tests on the government's website.  
  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is required for this no-cost lookup.
  • Only large diesel commercial vehicles are required to pass an emissions test.
  • All vehicles on the road are subject to emissions standards, even though only light passenger and non-diesel vehicles are required to pass an emissions test.
  • Before buying a used car, you can have the seller take it in for an emissions test at a dealership or other auto shop and show you the results.
  • Verify that the seller appears on any relevant government records
  • verification of the vehicle identification number (VIN) against the owner's license
  • Check the lien and debt status by acquiring a Used Vehicle Information Package or requesting one.
  • Observe the vehicle for telltale signs of damage and have a mechanic take a look for you.
  • Attempt a test drive of the car.

When purchasing

Make certain the seller provides you with the following when you purchase a car:

  • duplicate of the completed vehicle section of the owner's permit
  • the Used Vehicle Information Packet, which includes the Bill of Sale detailing the vehicle's sale and the transaction's monetary value
    • There must be a signature and date from both parties on the Bill of Sale for it to be valid.

Vehicle registration for a pre-owned vehicle

Within 6 days of the purchase, you must have the vehicle registered in your name.

The following items must be brought to a ServiceOntario center in order to register the vehicle:

  • Insurance documentation
  • licence de conduire de l'Ontario
  • vehicle history report (or UVIP)
  • bill of Sale (there should be a space for this at the very back of the used car paperwork)
  • If required by law, a Safety Standards Certification (SSC)
  • permission to operate, with the Application for Transfer section filled out
  • Data from the vehicle's odometer

Locate a ServiceOntario office near you

So, what exactly is a Safety Standards Certificate?

When should I get an emissions test?

Sales Receipt

A bill of sale for a new or used vehicle must contain the following details:

  • car's unique identifier, or VIN
  • nameplate manufacturer, model year, and fuel type (gas, diesel, electric) of each car.
  • type, shade, and make (if obtainable)
  • price paid (including any applicable taxes and HST/GST identification number)
    • Possible exceptions The Sworn Statement for a Family Gift of a Used Motor vehicle in the Province of Ontario, for instance, must be completed when a vehicle is being transferred from one family member to another as a family gift. This application can be submitted online at or picked up at your local ServiceOntario center.
  • Include the seller's name, address, and signature, if it is different from the dealer's or lessor's.
  • Information on the purchaser's name and address
  • sale/purchase closing date

A handwritten original bill of sale will suffice as long as it meets all legal requirements. A pre-printed sales invoice with a handwritten HST or GST number is also acceptable.

  • The following situations warrant the acceptance of a photocopy or facsimile of the bill of sale:
    • at a ServiceOntario location, the original can be inspected and copies can be made.
    • serviceOntario centers review both the original and the copy.
    • The seller faxes the document directly to the ServiceOntario location.
  • The bill of sale must be an original document, not a photocopy or facsimile of it.
  • A bill of sale completed by a business or dealer should be printed on the official letterhead of the selling entity.


Vehicle registration requires payment of a fee. Costs differ by region, vehicle type, and length of renewal.

Second-hand car sales tax

Taxes due at vehicle registration are the responsibility of the new owner. Sales tax is not something you need to pay the vendor.

Customers in Ontario can expect to pay 13% RST on average. The sum is calculated according to the greater of the retail price and the wholesale value of the vehicle.

If the car is 20 years old or older, you'll need an appraisal. Read the Ministry of Finance's Detailed Guide to Certain Automobiles for more information.

Some people are exempt from paying sales tax, including those in the following categories:

  • gifting the car to a member of one's immediate family
  • diplomats or Status Indians who meet the requirements

Knowing your car's wholesale price

Red Book in Canada lists wholesale and retail prices for used cars, which is where we get our wholesale value. Auto dealerships, insurance agencies, and state and local governments all use this standard.

Prices paid for vehicles of the same year, make, and model serve as the basis for the values. They ignore the following factors:

  • extras that can be purchased but aren't required
  • status of the vehicle
  • mileage

When you pick up the Used Vehicle Information Package and when you transfer ownership, there is a window of time during which these figures can change.

When the purchase price is below the Canadian Red Book

Get an appraisal before transferring ownership if your purchase price was lower than the vehicle's Canadian Red Book value.

However, you will be subject to tax based on the greater of the purchase price and the appraised value if the appraisal supports a lower price than the Canadian Red Book.

The Emissions Exam

Large, diesel-powered, commercial automobiles

When selling a used heavy diesel commercial motor vehicle older than the current model year, a current emissions test pass is required.

Transportation trucks, pickups, delivery vans, buses, tow trucks, dump trucks, and cement trucks with a GVWR of more than 4,500 kg and a diesel engine are all in scope.

The term "non-diesel" includes both light passenger cars and large trucks.

There is no longer a need for an emissions test for cars, vans, SUVs, and light trucks that do not use diesel fuel as of April 1, 2019.

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