Update: This was originally published in 2020 but updated in December 2022 to include new legal requirements.
If you live in Ontario and are thinking of selling your vehicle privately, you’ve got the right idea! Selling privately can net you 15-30% more than what the dealer will offer you on trade. However, the process can be a little complicated if you are doing it for the first time. You might not even know where to start or how to best go through the process to avoid headaches. Selling a car privately in Ontario can certainly seem like a headache, but I promise you the process is worth it. This guide will give you the step by step directions on how to do it!
Before we get too involved, please do know if you are thinking of making car flipping your side hustle, be aware in Ontario that curbsiding is illegal. Curbsiding is defined as the practice of selling vehicles for profit without a license. If you want to flip cars, pay the $500 OMVIC (Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council) Dealer fee and set up shop!
Ok, let’s get started!
1) Purchase a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) from the Ministry of Transportation
The UVIP allows buyers to ensure the person selling the vehicle is the same person on the vehicle’s ownership or registration. It also provides vehicle information such as the registration history, odometer readings, average wholesale value (used for tax purposes), any liens it might have and whether the title is branded (clean title, salvage, rebuilt, etc). To get a UVIP, head over to a Service Ontario centre or go online here. It is not free, and will cost you $20. Be aware, it is illegal to sell someone a vehicle without giving them the UVIP.
2) Consider getting a safety test or Safety Standard Certificate
This is not a requirement to selling the vehicle legally, however it will make it easier. Buyers want the peace of mind that the vehicle doesn’t have major safety issues and can be legally registered, a Safety Standard Certificate (SSC) will provide them the piece of mind! You could also offer in your ad for the vehicle to have the vehicle safety complete once purchased, which is not a bad idea as the SSC is only valid for 36 days post inspection. A safety inspection costs between $50-80 depending on the vehicle and mechanic you go to.
3) Detail the car, take pictures
Pretty self explanatory, also optional, but a clean car is much easier to sell. It is also estimated that simply detailing a vehicle nets 5-10% more for the vehicle. Take good pictures of the vehicle after the detail that show the vehicle condition.
4) Do the maintenance
Also optional, but any good buyer will at the very least check the oil dip stick to see what condition the oil is in. Doing an oil change and toping up fluids will give buyers the piece of mind that the vehicle has been well cared for.
5) Put it up for sale
You have a variety of sales channels you can post your vehicle and there is nothing wrong with cross posting it amongst them. I strongly recommend utilizing Autotrader, Kijiji and Facebook marketplace.
6) Setup a meeting with a buyer
Ideally use a public place but can also be your house. Your local police service parking lot might not be a bad idea as most will have a spot setup for “online sales”. If someone wants to test drive the vehicle, you can ask for a copy of their driver’s license (use your phone to take a picture) and even have them sign a waiver. Make sure to show them the UVIP. If the buyer wants the vehicle taken for an inspection, go with them to the mechanic. They should pay for any inspection fees.
7) Get paid!
Once you have agreed to the sale, it’s time to collect money. I prefer certified cheques but cash, e-transfers (or wire transfers) are also safe methods. Draft a Bill of Sale for you and the buyer.
8) Sign off the Application for Vehicle Transfer portion of the Ownership
This portion can be found on the backside of the vehicle ownership or permit. Detach this portion and give it to the buyer after you fill it out and sign it. The buyer will also need to provide their information. Photocopy the completed Application for Vehicle Transfer portion of the ownership along with the Bill of Sale so you both have copies. You keep your plate portion of the ownership and you retain your plates from the vehicle. These can be returned later to the MTO for a refund.
9) Tidy up
Report to your insurance company that you sold the vehicle so they remove it from your insurance policy. It’s also a good idea to report the sale to the MTO, although not required. Happy selling!