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Buying a Car Out of Province – What You Need to Know

Having a hard time finding your dream car locally? You are not alone. The good news is that you’re free to shop around in any province you’d like to find your ideal set of wheels. Just keep in mind, there will be some additional steps to take into consideration - but have no fear, we have the answers right here. To find out what’s involved in buying a new or used car out of province, read on. You can also click on the links below to jump to the section that most interests you.

Can I buy a car out of province?

In short, yes you can! Whether through a dealership or a private sale, you can buy a car from any province in Canada. However, going this route can bring along a lot of extras – extra paperwork, extra research, extra time and extra cost. It’s also important to be aware of the regulations in each province, as they’re all different. Similar to buying any new or used vehicle, it’s best to be patient and do your homework to make sure it’s worth your time and money.

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Steps to take when buying a car from a different province

Ok, so you’ve found your dream car and it’s right on the money – perfect colour, good mileage, great extras. Now what do you do? Just follow these steps to find out how to buy a car out of province and you’ll be ready to roll.

  • Step 1: Check in with the seller.

    If it’s a dealership, make sure they’re properly set up to carry out interprovincial transactions. If it’s a private sale, ensure the seller is open to selling their car out of province.

  • Step 2: Contact your province’s Vehicle Registration Authority (VRA).

    Before you even think about signing on the dotted line, your local VRA can help ensure you have all of the information and documents you need to complete the purchase.

  • Step 3: Determine the condition of the car.

    Though buying a car sight unseen isn’t ideal, there are some extra steps you can take to make sure the vehicle is in good condition (more on that later).

  • Step 4: Negotiate the price of the vehicle.

    Remember there may be additional costs involved when choosing a car from another province. Sometimes your method of payment can earn you a discount, so it’s definitely worth looking into. Just ensure that no matter what price you decide on, the payment is done safely, especially if it’s a private sale. To make sure you’re getting a fair price on your vehicle, use our Value Range tool to get an idea the car’s worth as it takes into consideration the vehicle’s location.

  • Step 5: Finalize the deal.

    Sign all the necessary paperwork and make your payment. Insider tip: watch for scams. If buying private, check the seller’s ownership and registration against a government-issued personal ID to make sure they match. Also, look into consumer protection laws to ensure you’re covered in both the province you’re buying it from and bringing it to (for example, you would check out OMVIC in Ontario, VSA in British Columbia or AMVIC in Alberta). Once you’ve got everything in order, you’ll just need to transfer the ownership into your name so you can register the vehicle.

  • Step 6: Ship/pick up the car.

    Once you have all of your ducks in a row, make arrangements to pick up your car. If you can’t be there in person, it is possible to have the car shipped to you, just be sure to factor in the additional costs.

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Things to consider with your out of province car purchase

As we mentioned earlier, buying a car out of province can be quite the undertaking so it’s really important to understand what’s involved before going through with it. And remember, the general requirements and regulations vary from province to province so always check with the respective VRAs to make sure you’re doing it all right.

Time vs. effort

As with making any large purchase, there is a ton of research that should be done up front to make sure it’s a good idea. Because you’re working with dealers and private owners in other provinces, it will be much more time-consuming to research cars, understand and follow provincial regulations on both sides, secure financing and arrange shipping/pick up. Another thing to keep in mind is distance – the farther away the car is from you, the longer it will take you to get it. And don’t forget about seasonality, it may take even longer if inclement weather is on the horizon.

Verifying the vehicle

Because of the magnitude of the purchase, we highly recommend trying to check out the car in person so you can get a good gauge of its condition. If it’s not possible to see it face-to-car, you’ll need to practice extra due diligence to ensure you’re not stuck with a lemon.

Before you sign anything, get a full vehicle history report to check for things like accident history, money owed on the vehicle (if any) and unfixed safety recalls. This is especially important if you’re buying from a private seller. It’s also a good idea to thoroughly inspect the interior and exterior of the car, and get as many photos and videos as possible, even request a walkthrough of the vehicle. Even better, if you happen to know someone in the area that you trust, you could ask them to take it for a test drive and report back to you.

We also recommend getting a thorough mechanical inspection including a safety certification from a licensed and trusted mechanic. Remember, there may be some out of province inspections required, so again, check with the VRA where you are and where you’re buying from as inspection thresholds may vary from province to province.


In addition to the cost of the vehicle, there are other costs to take into consideration when buying a used car out of province. There’s also the matter of “all-in” pricing, something that you’ll find in Ontario but possibly not in other provinces. This is something to look out for when you’re buying a car through a dealership as private sales typically include the entire cost.

When it comes to taxes, different provinces have different tax rates. You may also need to pay your province’s motor vehicle tax on top of the GST/HST you paid when you got the car. Luckily these are things that each province’s VRA can help you with. They can give you more information on how taxes work in each province and how that will affect your out-of-province purchase so you’re not stuck with an unwelcome surprise in the end.

To access all of the important information required when purchasing a vehicle out of province, check with the VRA from each province here:

Another cost to factor in is the registration payment. When you bring the car to your province, you have to pay to have the ownership transferred to you. Finally, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to get the vehicle. Are you picking it up yourself? Having someone else drive it to you? Will you be shipping it? You’ll want to be sure to include cost of travel (lodging, gas, etc.) or shipping costs into your budget.

At the end of the day, if you’ve decided it’s all worth it, go ahead and seal the deal! Once you’re behind the wheel of your new ride, protect your precious investment by taking good care of it so you can enjoy it for years to come. Check out our maintenance guide to find out how.

Because every situation is different, this article is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. Check with your local transportation authority for your specific needs.