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Can Foreigners Buy a Car in Canada?

Travelling around Canada in a private car is an ideal way to see the country. With over one million kilometres of roadways in the country, you will never run out of places to explore.
Jennifer Olson
· April 4, 2024
Can Foreigners Buy a Car in Canada?

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Canada is known for its natural beauty and vibrant cities.

With over one million kilometres of roadways in the country, you will never run out of places to explore.

You can optimise your travel experiences by enjoying the freedom and flexibility of driving your own car.

Keep reading to learn about the process, requirements and costs of buying a vehicle as a foreigner in Canada.

Why Buy a Car For Your Holiday in Canada?

Canada is vast and many of its landmarks such as provincial and national parks, outdoor recreational areas and remote destinations are not accessible by public transit. You can save money and diversify your trip by driving your own private car to explore Canada.

Is buying a car the best way to explore Canada?

In short, yes.

Purchasing your own car to use while exploring Canada has many advantages compared to relying on the bus or train.

The flexibility and freedom a private car provides will allow you to set your own pace, stop anywhere you want whenever you want, and visit spots that are off-the-beaten-path of regular tourist destinations.

Many remote areas aren’t on the bus or train routes, limiting the places you can explore if you choose to travel by either bus or train.

When you have your own car, you can take whatever you want with you, including camping gear. This is especially handy if you are travelling in a group and bringing lots of luggage or supplies with you. Private cars are more comfortable which makes long haul-travel a lot more appealing.

Another option for Canadian travel is to rent a car. Many larger companies like Uhaul offer the option to rent a car in one city and return it in whatever city you decide to end your trip. Keep in mind that renting a car can be pricey. The average cost to rent a car is CA$30-CA$70 per day, depending on if you are renting an economy car, SUV, passenger van or luxury vehicle. This can easily add up to thousands of dollars if you are planning a longer visit to Canada.

If you are only planning to be in Canada for a few weeks, it's not worth the hassle of buying a car as a foreigner. If your trip is going to be longer than a month, consider buying your own car to explore more freely, and save thousands of dollars in the process.

Can Foreigners Buy a Car in Canada?

As a foreigner you can absolutely buy a car while you are in Canada.

There are a few requirements and processes that you need to follow:

  • Generally you need to have a valid Canadian address, such as a residence or place of stay (hotel, etc), where you can register the vehicle.

  • You need to provide identification documents, such as a passport.

  • In some cases, you will need to provide a Canadian driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit in order to obtain insurance.

You may be subject to certain taxes and fees when buying a car in Canada, so make sure to research and understand the legal and financial aspects involved in buying a car as a foreigner. Working with a dealership or private seller can also help in navigating the process more smoothly.

Getting a Canadian driver’s licence is relatively simple. Read more about the process here.

Finding the Right Car to Buy in Canada

Canada has a big used-car market which makes it easy to find something suitable that is within your budget. Cars from dealerships go through safety and quality checks before they are listed. You can have a mechanic do an inspection so that you can know the condition of the car and be aware of any potential issues. Mechanics can also let you know if the price is fair. Additionally, there are websites like Canadian Black Book that provide data for individual vehicle appraisals.

Websites like Cargurus, Autotrader and Carpages and others are extensive platforms for searching through used car listings across the country. Online notice boards like Kijiji, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are also good options for finding the right car, especially from a private seller.

Popular and affordable car brands in Canada:

  • Toyota

  • Subaru

  • Volkswagen

  • Nissan

  • Honda

  • Mazda

  • Hyundai

  • Kia

  • Ford

  • Chevrolet

  • Mitsubishi

  • Jeep

  • Suzuki

Average Cost of a Used Vehicle in Canada

Factors such as age, make, model condition, kilometres driven and mileage will affect the cost of a used vehicle in Canada.

Nowadays you can expect to find a decent older used vehicle for CA$4,000 to CA$6,000.

You won’t want to spend much more than that as you will risk losing money when you sell it before you leave.

You’ll see that prices vary quite a bit, so do a bunch of research before you make your decision. Request the vehicle's service history and note the expiry date of its safety inspection check and whether it is currently registered.

Vehicle Inspection and History Check

Getting a vehicle inspection and history check before buying a car in Canada can save you money and protect your safety. The more you know about your vehicle, the less unwanted surprises and hassles you will experience during ownership.

To get a vehicle inspection and history check in Canada, find a licensed inspection facility and book an appointment. Have the vehicle's registration documents ready at the time of the inspection. The facility will examine the vehicle's safety, mechanics, and emissions and give you a report. You can also use online services such as CarFax or Autocheck to check the vehicle's history using its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). These reports show accident history, title status, maintenance records, and mileage verification. Reviewing both reports helps you make an informed decision when buying a used car in Canada.

Ownership Transfer and Insurance

To transfer ownership of a vehicle in Canada, follow these steps:

  1. Gather all the necessary documents such as ownership papers, a bill of sale, and valid I.D. for both yourself and the seller.

  1. Complete the transfer forms provided by the province or territory in which you are purchasing the car. The forms will ask for vehicle information, sale price and odometer reading.

  2. Visit a licensing office with the complete forms, and pay the applicable fee to process the transfer.

  1. Collect the new registration documents and licence plates, and attach the new plates to your newly purchased car.

Next, you need to get car insurance:

  1. Make sure you know the requirements specific to your province or territory, such as third-party liability coverage.

  1. Gather relevant information about your car such as driving history and personal details.

  1. Compare quotes from different insurance brokers to find the right coverage to suit your needs and budget.

Before deciding on a specific coverage option, consider factors like:

  • Coverage options i.e. collision, comprehensive

  • Deductibles

  • Premiums

  • Available discounts

Once you choose a provider and coverage, provide the necessary information and documents to finalise the policy and pay the premiums. Make sure to review your policy documents carefully to understand coverage limits, exclusions, and terms.

Buying a car as a foreigner in Canada is fairly simple and completely worth having flexibility and freedom while you travel.

If you need help getting a car delivered to you, find a trusted and reliable car mover on Top Move.

Car transport services across Canada

Experts at car shipping services. Trusted by thousands of vehicle owners across Canada. Door-to-Door Transport. Any Car Type. Fixed Prices.
9.6 · 196 reviews
Car type

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