Road Trip Guide: Buying a Car in Ontario as a Tourist

Road Trip Guide: Buying a Car in Ontario as a Tourist

 

This blog post is written to aid other travellers about to embark on an ultimate Canadian road trip.


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Whilst we were researching our options (and purchasing a vehicle at the same time) we found things very confusing and often contradicting, so here we have collaborated all the information you need to make an informed decision about buying a car in Ontario as a tourist.

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Basically, we have made the mistakes so you don’t have to.

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Tourists cannot buy a car in Ontario

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Unless you have an Ontario Driving Licence (Read further down for how to obtain one).

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Arriving in Toronto our aim was to purchase a car and set off west exploring as much of Canada as we could on a 100 day adventure. Purchasing a car was easy, within 48 hours we had put a deposit on a car at a second hand dealership and were told that our ‘international drivers licence’ would be accepted by the vehicle registration company.

 

Perfect.

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But there was a catch: In order for a company or individual to register a car the buyer/driver needs to be insured.

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In Ontario you cannot insure a vehicle with ANY insurance company without an Ontario Drivers Licence (trust us, we tried brokers, agents and our dealership!).

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Note: It is Illegal to drive a car unregistered and without automobile insurance in Canada, in fact you don’t even get access to licence plates until you’re fully registered so the car is in compound at the dealership.

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So we looked into licence exchange… This is simply proving your driving history from your home country and exchanging your licence for an Ontario one.

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BUT

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You DON’T get your original licence back, not even when you leave.

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What you need to obtain an Ontario drivers licence:

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  • eye test
  • identification showing legal name, date of birth and signature
  • Drivers licence
  • Original documents supporting proof of your driving experience (we looked into this and they want a legal traffic history check from the state/country you are from and it needs to be valid within 6 months). Just note that original means original, no print outs!
  • An address

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This government page is really clear and offers further clarification for those wanting to pursue this option: http://www.ontario.ca/driving-and-roads/exchange-out-province-drivers-licence

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And that’s that. There are no other loop holes, if’s but’s or maybes…. Without swapping your licence, you cannot buy a car in Ontario as a tourist. Our road trip has needed to re-adjust, we’re now bound for Manitoba where there seems to be temporary registration for international licence holders – our fingers and toes are crossed to buy a car there.

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Others things we learnt along the way:

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Temporary registration plates are strictly temporary and last no more than 10 days. In Ontario you still need an Ontario Drivers license to apply for these.

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International licence holders (not your Australian or British licence) can drive in Canada up to 3 months without obtaining an Ontario drivers licence however this only applies to rental vehicles. This little fact will not help you obtain automobile insurance in Ontario.

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If you want to buy a car in Ontario obtain an original traffic history check before you come. This will help you prove your driving experience which is necessary if you want to switch to an Ontario licence and thus gain automobile insurance.

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Ontario is the hardest state for tourists to buy a car (due to the strict insurance policy which prohibits international drivers purchasing car insurance).

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Ontario is one of the most expensive provinces to insure your vehicle… I suppose that is the ‘silver lining’ of not getting the option to buy ours 😛

 

 

For further information regarding which provinces will and will not allow you to purchase a car in Canada read our ‘Complete Guide to Buying a Car in Canada as a Tourist’.

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Return to our ‘Ultimate Canadian Road Trip’ guide.

 

 

 

Written by

Prue Sinclair is a twenty-six year old Aussie who for the past five years has been exploring the furthermost reaches of Asia. Living anywhere but her homeland, she now resides somewhere in the Americas where she writes about her adventures. Her travel ideals are simple: Plans are not made, visa are not obtained and routes are not sketched out, but wherever she ends up you can be sure she’ll be writing about it.

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Hi we're Prue and Becks, travel writers and photographers who have been travelling the world together since 2012. Without taking ourselves too seriously, we divulge the lesser known, out of the way places and give you the tools to replicate it. Want to know more? Click on our pic.
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