How to Sell a Car Privately in Canada: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Kijiji Autos

Wondering how to sell a car privately?

Private car sales may be a bit more complicated than simply trading in a vehicle, but that extra work can definitely be worth it. By doing your own deal, you can often secure a better price than the trade-in value, which is always a great incentive. Before you put your car on the market, it's important to know how to sell a used car legally and safely.

Here's how to successfully sell your own car in Canada:

1. Determine how much your car is worth

There are a few simple steps to take to determine your car's value.

  • Research the value of your car by checking comparable vehicles on Kijiji Autos or use an online valuation tool like the CarFax Canada Value Range tool.
  • Understand what variables can affect car prices. High mileage, rust damage, accident history and even the smell of cigarette smoke can diminish the value. On the other hand, low mileage and accessories like winter tires or a roof rack can increase it.
  • Using your research, set an asking price that you're happy with that's also comparable with market rates. It's a good idea to build a little wiggle room into the price as most buyers will want to negotiate.
  • Keep in mind that if you set the price too high, you may scare off potential buyers.

Learn more about pricing your car.

2. Make sure the car is paid off

Most car buyers are looking for a clean transaction with as few complications as possible. If you still owe money on your vehicle, whether you have financing through a dealership or a car loan through your bank, it's a good idea to pay off that loan before listing your car for sale.

3. Get the car ready for sale

To secure the best price for your car, it's a good idea to get it in optimal shape.

  • Make sure the vehicle is up-to-date on any service appointments.
  • A safety inspection is required to transfer ownership in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI.
  • Consider touching up cosmetic concerns like paint chips, scratches or areas of rust damage.
  • Make sure all interior and exterior lights are working.
  • Top up the oil and windshield wiper fluid, and ensure the tires are properly inflated.
  • Wash, wax and vacuum your car, removing any garbage or extra stuff you usually keep in the vehicle. You want it to look and smell as good as new.
  • For a great first impression, you may want to have the car professionally cleaned and detailed.

4. Write a great ad

Your car looks (and smells) great, your paperwork is organized and you've set a price. It's time to find a buyer! Here's how to write a great ad:

Make it informative

Include all the important specs. Don't just say it's a blue 2018 Honda Civic. A great ad includes the make, model, year, trim, body type, number of seats, transmission and fuel type and any extras. Include notes on the car's condition, mileage, history, fuel-efficiency and anything you love about it.

Be honest

While you might be tempted to make your car sound better than it is, savvy buyers can tell when you're not being honest. Big lies like mileage or accident history are likely to be caught when the buyer inspects the car or pulls the vehicle history, quickly costing you the sale.

Take lots of photos

Great photos, and lots of them, catch people's attention. Take photos from a variety of angles, and include shots from inside, outside and under the hood. Make sure to use a good-quality camera or smartphone in good light to avoid grainy shots.

Here are some more helpful hints for writing a great car ad.

5. Meet with potential buyers

Follow these tips when meeting with potential buyers who are interested in purchasing your car.

  • Safety first! Meet with buyers in public places and during daylight hours.
  • Informed used car buyers are likely to have a checklist of things to inspect and questions to ask. For a successful sale, be patient and prepared, and make sure to set aside plenty of time for a test drive and inspection.
  • Serious buyers will have questions about the car's history and may want to have the vehicle professionally inspected.
  • To prove you own the car and take care of it, bring your bill of sale and maintenance records for the buyer to review.

6. Negotiate a fair price

Many used car buyers are looking for a great deal on a used car, which means they'll likely want to negotiate. To make sure you get a price you're happy with:

  • Set a reasonable asking price based on comparable vehicles and have that research handy if you need to justify the price to the buyer.
  • Listen to the buyer's concerns about damage or necessary repairs and how that may affect the value of the car.
  • Know how much you're willing to compromise on the price and don't be afraid to let the buyer walk away if they're not willing to pay what you want.

Learn more about negotiating the price of your used car.

7. Prepare the paperwork

Once you and the buyer have agreed upon a price, it's time to get the paperwork in order. Each province and territory has its own requirements for selling a used car legally.

British Columbia

  • Completed Transfer/Tax Form (form APV9T)
  • The vehicle registration portion of your Owner's Certificate of Insurance and Vehicle Licence (form APV250)


  • Bill of sale signed by both buyer and seller


  • Bill of sale signed by both buyer and seller
  • Transfer of Ownership form (located on your car's Certificate of Registration)


  • Bill of sale signed by both buyer and seller
  • Transfer of Ownership Document (found on the back of the vehicle's registration card)
  • A Certificate of Inspection is recommended but not required. The buyer will need a valid COI to register the car


  • UVIP (Used Vehicle Information Package)
  • Safety inspection certificate from a licensed mechanic
  • Bill of sale signed by both the buyer and seller
  • Application for Transfer of Ownership (found on the back of your vehicle's ownership permit)


  • A bill of sale or contract is recommended but not required

New Brunswick

  • Bill of sale signed by both buyer and seller
  • Certificate of Registration signed on the back by the seller
  • A valid inspection sticker is required to transfer ownership

Nova Scotia

  • Certificate of Registration: Transfer of Ownership and Transfer of Title Certificate of Sale must be completed/signed and given to buyer; the Notice of Sale section must be signed and submitted to the Registry of Motor Vehicles
  • A valid inspection sticker is required to transfer ownership. This can be obtained by the seller within 30 days of the sale or by the buyer prior to registration


  • Bill of sale signed by both buyer and seller
  • Vehicle registration certificate: the Vehicle Permit section must be signed and given to the buyer; the Notification of Transfer section must be completed and submitted to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles
  • A valid motor vehicle inspection is required to transfer ownership

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Completed bill of sale (located on back of Vehicle Registration Document)
  • Notice of Sale (located on the back of Vehicle Registration Document)
  • A valid motor vehicle inspection is required to transfer ownership
  • The license plates stay with the car


  • Bill of sale signed by both buyer and seller
  • Copy of the vehicle registration

Northwest Territories

  • Bill of sale or Vehicle Registration Certificate with buyer/seller sections completed


  • Bill of sale signed by both buyer and seller
  • Vehicle registration with Transfer of Ownership section completed and signed

While some buyers may be well-informed about the necessary paperwork for buying a used car from a private seller, others may not know what they need. Aside from the documents listed above, they will likely need a valid driver's license and insurance coverage to register the car in their name.

8. Collect the payment

Cars are a big ticket item, so it's a good idea to be vigilant about potential scams. Experts recommend cash, a certified cheque or bank draft delivered in person as the safest options. Personal cheques and wire transfers are riskier and should be avoided

Do not sign over the car until after you receive the payment.

Buyers may ask you about financing a car from a private seller. If they're interested in setting up a payment plan, they should speak to their financial institution about getting a car loan.

9. Transfer ownership & remove the plates

Complete and sign the paperwork

Once payment is received, provide the buyer with the required paperwork, making sure all documents are completed accurately and signed. It's the buyer's responsibility to register the vehicle in their name; it will remain in your name until they complete this mandatory step.

Return the plates

If you don't need the license plates for your next vehicle, you may need to return them to the appropriate government agency.

Know the laws

Check with your province or territory for laws around unused license plates. In BC, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, unused plates must be returned to the province. In Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and PEI, returning license plates is optional. In Quebec, it's also optional but plates that are unused for three years or longer must be destroyed.

Cancel insurance

Once the sale is finalized, don't forget to contact your insurance provider to cancel the policy on the vehicle.

Feeling confident and ready to sell a car privately? Kijiji Autos offers Canadian drivers a one-stop solution for car research and sales.

List your car on Kijiji Autos to connect with motivated buyers in your area.

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