Whether you’re looking to buy a new or used vehicle for yourself or help out a family member who needs a set of wheels, giving a car as a gift is a thoughtful yet savvy move. Not only does it save you from paying extra taxes, but it also provides a way for you to free up some driveway space for your next car. If you're considering gifting a car in Ontario, here’s everything you need to know.

Gifting a car in Ontario: Illustration of people hugging each other

Who Can Receive a Gifted Car?

Before you decide to give a car as a gift, make sure that the person you want to give the vehicle to falls under the definition of a family member per ServiceOntario. This list includes a mix of blood relatives, those who married into the family, and step-family members. A more in-depth look shows that the following are eligible to receive a gifted car:

  • Stepchildren, stepparents, step grandparents, or step grandchildren
  • Siblings
  • Parents-in-law or children-in-law
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Spouse

The main benefit to gifting a car in Ontario to one of these family members is that the recipient isn't required to pay retail sales tax (RST) on the value of the vehicle. That means that you're effectively saving your family member the entire price of the car plus 13% of the purchase price that usually goes to RST.

If you want to transfer ownership of a vehicle to a friend or non-family member, the process is similar. The main difference is that these individuals will have to pay RST based on Candian Red Book value of the vehicle, much like when you sell a car privately.

Gifting a Car? Don't Forget About These Steps

If you're gifting a car in Ontario, follow these steps to alleviate any concerns or problems that may arise during the process. By doing so, you ensure a smooth, seamless experience that can get your family member one step closer to driving away at a fraction of the cost.

Pay Off the Vehicle

Before you can gift a vehicle, you have to own it outright. This is so you have a clean title that allows you to transfer ownership to the recipient of the vehicle. If you have a current balance on your loan, try to pay it off quickly. Once you've paid it off, you should be able to get a lien release from your lender, which means you no longer have any financial obligations to a third party.

Gift Tax? What Gift Tax?

Although you won't have to pay retail sales tax when gifting a car in Ontario, some gifters may be concerned about a gift tax. Fortunately for you, Canada doesn't have a gift tax nor do any provinces. As a result, you won't have to pay a gift tax like you would in the United States. 

Graphic depiction of a person stay afloat above sharks

Financial Situation of Your Family Member

In theory, giving a car to someone who needs a vehicle seems like a no-brainer. However, this requires more insight than you might think. More specifically, you should consider the financial situation of the recipient. Keep in mind that owning a vehicle comes with several costs, including:

  • Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Gasoline
  • Registration and fees
  • Parking

According to recent studies, the monthly cost of vehicle ownership in Canada is right around $500. So if you're gifting a car to someone who's unemployed, underemployed, or in school, consider whether they can afford a $500 hit to their monthly income. You may also want to have a frank discussion to determine whether this is the ideal move for both parties. 

Gifting a car in Ontario: Woman receiving an SUV with a blue ribbon on top

How To Complete Gifting a Car in Ontario

Once you've paid off your car loan and made sure it’s an ideal gift for your intended recipient, it's time to dive into the paperwork side of the equation. To start this process, you'll need to find your nearest ServiceOntario centre. This is where you'll complete all the paperwork and ensure that you get the proper tax exemption from RST. Here's everything you'll need to get the gifting process completed in Ontario.

Bill of Sale

Although you aren't technically selling your vehicle, you should still have a bill of sale. This doesn't have to be anything fancy. You can handwrite one or just use the pre-written bill of sale form found in your used vehicle information package (UVIP). A bill of sale makes the transfer of ownership process easier and more streamlined. Just make sure to include all the relevant information, such as the vehicle identification number (VIN), make, model, mileage, etc.

Sworn Statement for a Family Gift of a Used Motor Vehicle in the Province of Ontario

The Sworn Statement for a Family Gift of a Used Motor Vehicle is an affidavit that attests that the vehicle is being given as a gift. Without this form, you won't be able to claim the tax exemption, making this a vital aspect of paperwork. Both the donor and the recipient must sign this form in the presence of a lawyer or notary public to make the form official.

Vehicle Ownership Permit

Every used or new vehicle comes with a piece of green paper known as the vehicle ownership permit, or vehicle registration. You'll need to bring the transfer portion (found on the back) of the vehicle ownership permit when you're gifting a car in order to change the status of your vehicle from owned to "sold" (although you technically didn't sell it). The recipient may also want to fill out the plate portion of the permit during the vehicle transfer of ownership, but only if they have plates they want to put on the vehicle.

Safety Standards Certificate

A Safety Standards Certificate (SSC) is another document required when gifting a car in Ontario. Vehicle owners no longer have to pass the Drive Clean emissions test as of 2019. But they do need the SSC, which certifies that the vehicle is compliant with emissions laws. Keep in mind that if you're gifting the vehicle to a spouse, the spouse is exempt from having to possess the SSC.

Plate Transfer Declaration

If you're gifting the vehicle to a spouse, you need to complete the plate transfer declaration form. This form ensures that your spouse is exempt from the SSC, as well as showing that you're simply transferring licence plates to a new owner.

Driver's Licence(s)

When you go to ServiceOntario, both the donor and the recipient are required to show their driver's licences. This acts as proof of identification to ensure both parties are the ones featured on the paperwork.

Proof of Insurance

Both parties will also need proof of insurance in order to register the vehicle with ServiceOntario, as driving without insurance is illegal in Canada.

Added Costs

Keep in mind that either the donor or the recipient will have to pay the fees and costs associated with the transaction. The ownership of a vehicle requires the new owner to pay for a vehicle permit, as well as a licence plate sticker. As of 2021, a vehicle permit costs $32 and a licence plate sticker is $120. 

Gifting a car in Ontario: Clutch can help

Gifting a car in Ontario is a smart play, providing a family member with a set of wheels without having to pay retail sales tax. In addition, you don't have to stress about the time and effort to sell your vehicle to a private party or haggle the trade-in value of your vehicle.

If you find that gifting a car isn't going to work for your needs or those of its intended new owner, don't stress. You can still sell or trade your vehicle in with Clutch. Using our handy trade-in estimator, you can get an instant quote to purchase your car. Then, you can browse our inventory of quality vehicles to find the perfect used car that suits your style and needs.