For various reasons, you might want to buy a new or used vehicle in a province that’s not the province you live in. Maybe the price was too good to pass up, or you found the exact or rare combination of things you wanted in your car. Buying a car out of province might cause added stress, require additional paperwork, or result in some added questions or concerns.
Luckily, you’re totally allowed to buy a vehicle in any province you like, even if you don’t live there. Buying a car in your own province is usually the way to go, but if that’s not a possibility for the car you’re after or the situation you’re in, read on for some tips we have on buying a car from another province.
When buying a new car, you’ll need to plate it, register it, and pay the sales taxes in the province where you live, regardless of the province where you bought the car. In this sense, the car is connected to you and to your province. Typically, you’ll need to have the car insured before much (or any) of the above can happen.
If you have multiple residences or regularly split your time between multiple provinces, you’ll probably need to register, plate, and pay taxes on the vehicle, based on the province listed on your driver’s licence.
Find the Right Dealer
Some dealerships will track down and obtain a new vehicle for you, even if it’s located in a different province. Other dealerships will not.
Some dealers trade vehicles amongst themselves, even between provinces, and others don’t. This varies widely by make, model, dealership, and the provinces in question. If you’re considering buying from another province, be sure to assess how it will work in your specific situation and locale.
Here’s one real-life example, highlighting one specific situation.
I recently decided to buy a new Volkswagen, but I wanted a very specifically equipped model. No unit with these options was, at the time, available at any dealership in Ontario, though numerous dealers in other provinces had exactly what I was looking for in stock.
In my situation, the local dealership in Sudbury (as well as several other Ontario dealerships I contacted), advised that they could not obtain the specific vehicle I was after in a timely fashion, even though this vehicle was physically available in Quebec, several hundred kilometres away.
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I didn’t care where my new vehicle came from, but the Ontario dealers I was in contact with did care. This is one example of why a shopper may be tempted to go out of province to buy.
In my specific case, I special-ordered my vehicle from the local dealership, and waited seven weeks for it to arrive. The other option, which would have seen my new VW in the driveway much sooner, was to spend time, money, and energy driving to Quebec, buying there, and bringing the vehicle home somehow.
Note that some Canadian dealerships are happy to serve out-of-province shoppers and even have a reputation for being specialists in doing so. Other dealers, not so much. Translation? If you think you’ll be buying from another province, be sure to do your homework first. Call a dealership and chat to a salesperson. They do, after all, like selling cars.
Get Ready to Provide Additional Information
If you buy a new vehicle from a province you don’t live in, you’ll likely have to provide some additional information as part of the process of registering, plating, and paying the sales tax in your province.
This varies from province to province, but be prepared to show proof of insurance, an out-of-province ownership or title, a complete bill of sale, and more.
If the vehicle is from another country, or was (or remains) a commercial vehicle, additional information (including a certification of the vehicle’s weight versus manufacturer specification) may also be required.
There are no standard rules or regulations across all provinces, so be sure to check with your province’s transportation authority for the full scoop.
In-Transit Permit / Check Your Insurance
If you’re buying a new car in one province and driving it home to another, you may receive an in-transit permit, which allows you to take the vehicle directly back to your home province for registration and sales tax payment.
You’ll need to have your insurance sorted out before obtaining this permit. Since you can’t insure something you don’t own, you’ll also need to have completed the sale of the vehicle before getting the insurance coverage. Start by buying the vehicle, then obtain the insurance for it, and finally, get yourself that in-transit permit, if applicable.
If you buy a used car from another province, there may be further work required including the need to have the vehicle inspected and certified as per the safety standards in your own province, and more.
If you buy a vehicle from another province, you may incur higher costs for its purchase. For instance, if a local dealer obtains a vehicle on your behalf from an out-of-province dealer, they’ll incur vehicle shipping costs, which will likely be passed on to you.
If you buy a car in one province but live in another, you’ll also have to transfer the title and registration over to the province you live in. Usually, this has to happen within one to four weeks of your purchase (check the specifics for your province), and may involve additional fees and costs.
If buying an out-of-province car, you’ll also have to pay the sales tax relative to the province you live in. Some dealers that specialize in out-of-province sales will handle this for you, but others will not.
One new car sales representative in Ontario told us, “We don’t see a lot of out-of-province purchases, though they do happen. It can be a hassle, however. If you buy a car from me but live in another province, you’d have to pay the Ontario sales tax here, and then go through a process to get that refunded once you return home, and pay the sales tax there instead.”
Consider the Pros and Cons
There are numerous reasons a shopper may want or need to buy a vehicle from a different province than the one they live in. With the right dealership involved and a little extra legwork on your part to re-register the vehicle and refund or repay the sales tax in the appropriate locale, the extra hassle should be manageable.
In other cases, buying out of province may not prove worth the extra effort, time, energy, and costs.
Maybe the vehicle you’re looking for is available for $2,200 cheaper just one province away, but the cost of travel and lodging to pick it up and get it home will eat up that savings quickly.
As this can be a time-consuming process, shoppers who may find the need to buy out of province are typically best to make early contact with the dealer of their choice and ask lots of questions as early as possible.