Car ownership gives you freedom, collateral and a lot of responsibility. If you’re the proud owner of a vehicle in Ontario, you may not be fully aware of everything that goes with it. How familiar are you with the types of car ownership? Or the costs? Or how to transfer ownership to a family member or another buyer?
As a car owner, or a potential owner, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of owning a vehicle in Ontario.
What Vehicle Ownership Entails in Ontario
In Ontario, car ownership is often associated with the little green slip of paper that’s issued by the provincial government. Often called a vehicle permit, this document will typically come from a dealership or transferred during a private sale. A permit contains:
- The make and model of the vehicle
- The vehicle identification number (VIN)
- The licence plate number
- A portion of the plate validation sticker
- The name and address of the vehicle owner
Vehicle ownership, however, is not the same as vehicle registration. In order to drive your vehicle in Ontario, you will need to register it with the government. If you purchased your vehicle through a dealership, they will typically take care of this for you. If not, you’ll need to visit a Service Ontario location with your permit, proof of auto insurance and a licence plate.
It’s important to remember to have your vehicle permit with you any time you’re driving, as it’ll be requested by police if you’re pulled over. Typically, most drivers store their ownership in the glove box. That way, you’ll always have it with you.
Vehicle Ownership Options in Ontario
While vehicle ownership typically tends to belong to one person who is the primary driver of that car, there are other options out there.
- Joint Ownership. Many people don’t realize that joint ownership of a vehicle is possible in Ontario. This is particularly helpful when it comes to getting approved for car loans. It also makes owning the car more affordable as costs can be split. Keep in mind this also means that all documentation must be signed by both parties, and they both must sign off if the vehicle is sold.
- Parental Ownership. Many parents purchase their children’s first vehicle for them. However, teens and young adults may not be approved for a loan, and it’s often easier for the parent to be listed as the owner.
- What About Leasing? When you lease a vehicle, you will be given the vehicle ownership by the dealership. However, you do not own the vehicle. The car dealership or its parent company owns the car.
Transferring Car Ownership in Ontario
Transferring your car ownership typically takes place when you buy or sell a used vehicle. This can take place between a used car dealership, a private sale or between family members. Before you buy or sell a car, however, it’s important that you understand Ontario’s laws.
Whether buying or selling, a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) from the Ontario government will be involved. Under the Highway Traffic Act, sellers must provide the UVIP during a private sale. This is not required when buying from a dealership or if you’re transferring ownership between family members. Sellers must purchase a UVIP through Service Ontario for $20.
A Safety Standards Certificate is also usually needed during a vehicle sale. This confirms that the used vehicle meets the minimum safety standards in Ontario. It’s important to note that the certificate is only valid for 36 days after obtaining it, so the sale should be completed within this window. A safety certificate is not required when you transfer ownership to a spouse.
Steps for Buyers
If you’re buying a used vehicle in Ontario, you will need to:
- Complete the Bill of Sale portion of the UVIP
- Complete the Application for Transfer section on the vehicle permit
- Bring the UVIP and permit to a Service Ontario within 6 days of purchase
- Provide proof of car insurance
- Pay the retail sales tax on the vehicle
- Pay any fees for licence plates and plate stickers
Steps for Sellers
If you’re selling a used vehicle in Ontario, you will need to:
- Purchase the UVIP for your vehicle from Service Ontario
- Fill out the UVIP with all the necessary information
- Sign the Application for Transfer portion of the vehicle permit
- Remove and keep your license plates, as well as the plate portion of your permit
Until the buyer brings all the necessary paperwork to a Service Ontario, the vehicle will remain in the seller’s name—and legally their responsibility. If you’re a seller, it’s a good idea to notify the Ministry of Transportation that you have sold your vehicle to avoid any liabilities that could happen before the car is registered with the new owner.
Gifting Your Vehicle
In Ontario, you can transfer your vehicle to a close family member as a gift. This means you don’t have to pay any retail sales tax. A close family member includes spouse, parents, grandparents, children, siblings and in-laws.
To complete a vehicle transfer to a family member, you must bring the following to a Service Ontario location:
- Proof of insurance
- Vehicle Permit
- A completed Sworn Statement for a Family Gift of a Used Motor Vehicle form
- A safety standards certificate (not required for a spouse)
- An emissions test
- A completed plate transfer declaration (if transferring licence plates)
- You driver’s licence
One of the important things you might have noticed pop up throughout this article is proof of insurance. Having your vehicle insured in Ontario is mandatory when it comes to buying, selling and driving a car. If you’re planning on buying or selling a car, speak with a Regal Insurance broker today.