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Buying a car in another province

The steps and costs you go through when you buy a car in a different province.

After a long search, you’ve finally found the perfect car! There’s just one problem – it’s in a different province. Follow our step-by-step guide to figure out what you’ll need to do to buy a car in another province and get it back to where you live.

Can I buy a car in another province?

You can buy a car in another province, but it won’t be as simple as buying one in your province of residence. You’ll need to travel to inspect the vehicle or have it inspected by a third party. You’ll also need to factor in the process of transporting your vehicle back home as well as the costs of transferring the title and registration.

It’s also important to be aware of what it takes to register an out-of-province vehicle where you live (since regulations are different for each province). Different provinces will require you to pay different taxes and they may also require you to undergo emissions testing or a vehicle inspection prior to registration.

Seven steps for buying a car out of province

Click on the sections below to find out more about the process for buying a car in another province:

Representative example: Buying a car out of province as an Ontario resident

Corey lives in Ottawa, Ontario, but wants to purchase a vehicle in Gatineau, Quebec (just across the river). After doing some research, he finds a 2013 Kia Forte that he’s interested in through a private sale. He heads to Gatineau to inspect the vehicle and checks the VIN and the accident history to make sure the car is in good shape. He also schedules a third-party inspection of the car, which comes back clean.

When he’s satisfied, he applies for financing from an online lender and is approved for $6,500 (the price of the vehicle). He pays for the vehicle in cash and goes with the current owner to an insurance agency in Gatineau. The agency provides temporary one-day insurance and transfers the registration into Corey’s name. Corey then drives the vehicle back to Ottawa and begins the process of registering and insuring it in Ontario.

Requirements to register an out-of-province vehicle in Ontario

Corey checks the requirements to register an out-of-province vehicle in Ontario. He finds out that he needs to pay 13% harmonized sales tax (HST) to register his new vehicle. He also needs to get it inspected to ensure it meets basic safety and emissions standards.

Overall costs for Corey to purchase the vehicle

The costs below are a representative sample of what Corey might have to pay for buying a car out of province in Ontario:

  1. Purchasing the vehicle: $6,500 (loan + 6.5% interest)
  2. Getting temporary registration and insurance: $75
  3. Acquiring a safety standards certificate: Costs vary by motor vehicle inspection station
  4. Updating or fixing issues with the vehicle: Costs vary and can include anything from needing new tires to getting a windshield crack repaired
  5. Vehicle registration in Ottawa: $120
  6. Paying HST on vehicle price: $845
  7. Insurance in Ottawa: $1,200 to $1,800 for one year

As you can see, total costs can vary by person and by province. That said, you should expect to pay over $1,000 for all the extra requirements that come along with buying a vehicle in another province. Your price tag could also be much higher than this if your vehicle price is higher or there are issues with your inspection.

Sales tax when buying a car out of province as an Ontario resident

Whether you buy a new or used car that’s outside Ontario, 13% HST will apply to your purchase. If you buy a used car from a private seller in another province, you don’t pay HST to the seller, but you do pay it when you register as the new owner of the vehicle. When you buy a new or used car at a dealership that’s in another province, talk to the sales rep to clarify whether Ontario’s HST has been incorporated into the purchase price. Some dealers will arrange this, while others may expect you to cover the difference yourself.

What to consider when purchasing a vehicle out of province

Buying a car in another province can cost a lot more than purchasing one where you live. You may have to pay for the following expenses as part of the deal:

  • Purchasing the vehicle. You may be able to pay for your vehicle outright to save money on interest. If you can’t do this, you should expect to factor in between 4% and 50% interest on the money you borrow to buy your out-of-province car. The rates you get will usually depend on your credit score.
  • Getting temporary insurance and registration. If you intend to drive your vehicle home, you’ll need to get it temporarily insured and registered for it to be legal to drive. This can cost anywhere from $50 to $300, depending on where you buy the car and how long it takes you to get it home.
  • Transporting your new car home. Depending on where you intend to buy your vehicle, you’ll need to pick it up or have it shipped to your province of residence. These costs can be minor or major, based on the distance you need to travel. You’ll usually pay a very high price to ship your vehicle home.
  • Getting a safety inspection. You could end up paying a few hundred dollars to get a safety inspection on your vehicle as a requirement for bringing it in from out of province. You may also have to pay for any repairs that are required before the inspector is willing to pass your vehicle so you can get it registered.
  • Registering and insuring your vehicle. Registering and insuring your vehicle in your province of residence can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You’ll often pay between $80 and $150 to register your vehicle. You’ll then have to pay for a year of insurance upfront (which usually costs over $1,000).
  • Paying for GST/HST. You’ll have to pay a sales tax of between 5% and 13% on any vehicle you register from another province. This can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to your overall bill, so you should be sure you have the money set aside to cover your taxes.

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Bottom line

You should try to crunch the numbers to see if buying a car out of province makes good financial sense for you. If you’re saving a significant amount of money on the vehicle or it has special features (such as low mileage or it’s a rare vehicle), then it could make sense to buy it in another province. You’ll just need to be prepared to spend a little bit more to get it home.

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