Buying a vehicle from a private seller

Consumer tips for buying a used vehicle privately in Alberta.


When buying a vehicle from a private seller, it's important to understand the required steps to make an informed decision and protect yourself from unfair practices.

The steps are different when buying a vehicle from an automotive business.

Before you buy

Before buying a vehicle from a private seller, take precautions to protect yourself.

  • Research the process and potential risks of buying used vehicles. Check reliable resources, such as the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC).
  • Make sure the seller has valid ID and proof that they own the vehicle.
  • Contact a registry agent or AMA to get a vehicle information report, which describes the vehicle’s registration history in Alberta.
  • Get a personal property lien search from a registry agent, based on the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). A Carproof vehicle history report is also recommended.
  • Get a safety inspection of the vehicle from a vehicle inspection facility.
  • Search the Canadian Police Information Centre database for stolen vehicles. The Government of Alberta is NOT provided with stolen vehicle data.

When buying

When buying a vehicle from a private seller, make sure to complete a standard bill of sale.

This document ensures enough information is gathered from the seller so the new owner can licence and register the vehicle.

After you buy a vehicle

  • Get insurance and register your vehicle at a registry agent as soon as possible.
  • Check that all the information on the vehicle registration certificate matches the proof of ownership and insurance.
  • Keep the reports on your vehicle’s registration, lien history and proof of ownership in a safe location.
  • Learn how to register a vehicle for use on Alberta roads.

Buying imported vehicles

If you want to import a vehicle into Canada, the Registrar of Imported Vehicles has information on which vehicles are allowed to enter Canada and how to import them.


If you have any questions, concerns or complaints regarding Alberta's automotive industry, contact:

AMVIC Consumer Services

Phone: 780-466-1140 extension 2002
Toll free: 1-877-979-8100 extension 2002
Email: [email protected]