Between the provincial paperwork, setting a price, and dealing with buyers, selling a used car in Alberta can be a little bit overwhelming.

Below, we help guide you through selling a used car in Alberta, ranging from setting a price and listing it online to the various paperwork you need including a bill of sale. We also present the time-saving option of trading it in and detail the benefits it provides.

Determining a Price for Your Vehicle

The first step to selling a used car in Alberta is figuring out its worth as well as what the used car market is for it. If you don’t price your used car right, it’ll sit on the market while more competitively priced cars get scooped up—or you could price it too low and leave dollars on the table.

You can get a good feel for your vehicle’s market price on various websites, but Canadian Black Book (CBB) is a great place to start. Simply enter your vehicle’s year, make, model, trim level, and a few other details, and CBB will give you the average asking price in your area.

You can also check out Kelley Blue Book (KBB) for even more pricing information. You’ll enter the same info as you did for CBB, plus some details concerning the vehicle’s condition. KBB will perform a comparative search of other listings and sales in the area of your vehicle to determine a fair private party pricing range. It’ll also provide a recommended private party price as a good starting point.

One thing to remember about an asking price is it’s just that — an asking price. Be prepared to haggle with potential buyers as they try to get the lowest possible price for your vehicle. This is part of the private selling landscape, so don’t take offense. Instead, work up a minimum acceptable price in your head so you’re prepared to agree to a deal or turn away from one.

Your lowest price can be determined by several things, including the balance on the auto loan, the down payment you need for your new vehicle, or the amount of cash you need for your next home improvement project.

Putting You Car for Sale on the Private Market

Once you’ve got your asking price and lowest acceptable price in mind, you’re ready to list your vehicle for sale. You have a range of options for listing your vehicle for private sale. Here are some of the more popular options.

Free Online Markets

The most economical automotive marketing tool is a free online marketplace, such as Craigslist, Kijiji, or Facebook Marketplace.

The big benefit of selling a used car in Alberta on these sites is that it comes at no cost. There are no upfront fees, nor will you have to pay a commission when your car sells. You list it, show it, let buyers test drive it, and sell it. You keep 100% of the cash.

Plus, you can upload plenty of pictures to these sites without extra fees, making it easy to show off all your vehicle’s best features. The more pictures you have, the more confident potential buyers will feel about contacting you.

Unfortunately, these free online marketplaces have some downsides too. The biggest issue is the abundance of scams on these websites. These sites are 100% free, making them great targets for scammers who aren’t looking to invest any cash into their illicit operations. This can include cheque fraud schemes, vehicle trade scams, counterfeit cash, and more.

You will also field countless texts, direct messages, and phone calls from people who aren’t seriously looking to buy a car or are just “tire kickers.” Also, free sites are a huge draw for all the other sellers in the area, often flooding the site with inventory and making it harder to market your vehicle.

Paid Online Markets

Paid online markets are great because they are well-organized, offer robust features, and draw the most serious buyers. Plus, they often offer financing options and other things free sites do not, making it easier to secure a buyer. They also often give you the opportunity to feature your vehicle in a prominent position for an extra fee.

Also, while these sites aren’t free of their fair share of scammers, they generally stick to the free sites because those sellers tend to be more anxious to make a deal and sell their vehicle.

The huge downside to using paid online automotive markets to sell a used car in Alberta is you will pay a fee whether you sell your car or not. Plus, some sites will also charge you a commission on top of this fee. Also, there’s still plenty of competition and these sites draw in more car dealerships with more inventory and far higher budgets than you do. This can leave your car buried deep in the search results.

On-Street Advertising

You can save big by going old-school and just slapping a “for sale” sign in the window and parking your ride on the side of the road. This gets you in front of tons of people if you live on a busy street, plus they can see the vehicle in person immediately without having to drive anywhere else.

This can be helpful, but it’s one of the worst ways to sell a used car in Alberta for several reasons. First is the safety issue. A car with a “for sale” sign in its window can cause a distraction on the road and possibly cause an accident.

The other issue is that cars may fly by too quickly and not even notice your car is for sale. And if it’s not in a convenient area to stop, they can’t even get your contact information off the sign.

There’s also the whole legality issue. Some local laws forbid on-street used-car advertising. So, you draw the ire of local law enforcement and end up with your vehicle towed and a hefty fine.

Necessary Paperwork When Selling a Used Car in Alberta

When selling a used car in Alberta, you will need to do some paperwork to ensure the process goes smoothly. Keep in mind that some paperwork is purely for convenience, whereas other paperwork is a legal requirement. 

Alberta Vehicle Information Report (VIR)

Yes, you can let the buyer pull their own report on your vehicle, but having the Alberta VIR already in hand and ready will streamline the process. To obtain your VIR, simply grab your 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) from your vehicle ownership document, insurance certificate, or driver’s side dashboard, and head to the VIR ordering page on the Alberta government eServices website, according to Alberta Motor Association (AMA).

You can enter your VIN and other information about the vehicle and pay $21.10 for a full VIR, which includes:

  • Vehicle description (year, make, model, colour, etc.)
  • Vehicle status (active, rebuilt, salvage, etc.)
  • Registration dates and locations
  • Odometer reading
  • Number of liens against the vehicle

Vehicle History Report

AMA also recommends securing a Carfax Canada vehicle history report. This report will check the VIN across Canada for a wide range of issues, including:

  • Vehicle registration history
  • Accident history
  • Liens
  • Unfixed safety recalls
  • Odometer reading
  • Insurance records and claims

Again, a potential buyer can pull this Carfax vehicle history report themselves, but having it in hand and ready to show can streamline the process and show you have nothing to hide. You can pull a full vehicle history report and lien check online for $60.95 or just a vehicle history report for $43.95.

Vehicle Safety Inspection Report

Again, this is not a legal requirement, and a buyer can do this themselves, but you can help inspire buyer confidence in your used vehicle by having a safety inspection done and the report ready to show to a potential buyer. This lets them know that your vehicle is in proper working order and safe.

Many certified motor vehicle inspection stations are on the Alberta Government’s transportation page.

Bill of Sale

The one piece of paperwork legally required with every used vehicle sold in Alberta is a bill of sale. You can't transfer vehicle ownership without one, so it’s a good idea to have the form ready to fill out and sign for the new owner.

The minimum information required on a bill of sale in Alberta includes:

  • Full name and address of the seller(s) and buyer(s)
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Vehicle make, model/series, style, colour, and year
  • Vehicle’s selling price
  • Signature of the buyer(s) and seller(s)

The Alberta government also recommends including the following information on the bill of sale to be safe:

  • Odometer reading
  • Phone numbers of all people involved
  • Identification of all people involved
  • Witness signatures
  • Liens or encumbrances against the vehicle
  • If the vehicle was paid for in full or not
  • Payment method
  • Payment terms (if applicable)
  • Vehicle’s last registration location
  • Special conditions of the sale

To make life easier, the Alberta government has an online bill of sale form you can complete online and print or print and fill out by hand.

You’ll also want to have your original bill of sale from when you purchased it ready to prove you are the vehicle's legal owner.

Other Tasks After Selling the Vehicle

After selling your vehicle, you must complete a few other tasks, starting with cancelling your licence plate. To do so, head to your nearest vehicle registry agent with one piece of Government of Alberta–approved photo ID, such as a driver’s licence or passport, as well as your registration, plates, and an accepted payment method for the registry fees.

If you plan to transfer your vehicle registration to a new car, you must do so within 14 days of selling your used car in Alberta. Simply head to your nearest vehicle registry agent with acceptable identification, proof of ownership of the new vehicle, and proof of valid car insurance. Then, pay any applicable fees and fill out the required paperwork for the transfer.

Last but not least, you also have to call your insurance company to remove the previous vehicle from your insurance.

Benefits of Using Your Used Vehicle as a Trade-In Instead

If you’re planning on buying a car to replace the one you just sold, why not use your current vehicle as a trade-in instead of going through all the steps of selling a used vehicle in Alberta? Here’s how you can benefit from trading in your vehicle.

Tax Savings

Remember that you will have to pay 5% GST on any new or used vehicle you buy in Alberta, but you can save big on that sales tax by trading in your old vehicle and applying its value to your new ride, leaving you to pay 5% GST only on the difference.

If you purchase a $50,000 vehicle but get a trade-in credit of $35,000, for instance, you only pay 5% GST on the remaining $15,000. That’s $1,750 in savings.

Time Savings

With no need to interact with tire kickers and field tons of questions from people who have no intention of buying your vehicle, trading your vehicle can save tons of time. And time is money! Plus, the stress of being a private seller is suddenly lifted from your shoulders when you trade your vehicle with a seamless and hassle-free online retailer like Clutch.

Minimal Paperwork

When you trade in your car, the company you’re trading with will typically handle all of the paperwork for you. There is no need to get inspections, lien reports, vehicle history reports, or bills of sale. The car dealership will handle it all for you.

Clutch Makes Life Easy With a Streamlined Trade-In Process

Clutch, Canada's premier online automotive retailer, makes selling your car in Alberta a breeze. Simply head to our site and enter a few details about your ride to get an offer in minutes.

With a firm offer in hand, you can either sell your car outright or browse our wide selection of quality used cars to begin the trade-in process. We'll even deliver your new car and pick up your trade-in vehicle at the same time. 

We also make life easy with quick and easy online financing options.

If you can’t find a Clutch vehicle that suits your needs, that’s OK! We can still purchase your vehicle at the agreed-upon price and arrange for pick-up or delivery. You still get cash for your vehicle in days, with no stress at all.

Feeling nervous about buying a car online? Rest assured that each and every Clutch vehicle must pass a rigorous 210-point inspection and reconditioning process. On top of that, we include our 90-Day Protection Plan on every vehicle for additional peace of mind.

Last but not least, we also provide a 10-Day Money-Back Guarantee with every purchase, which means if you don’t love your new ride during that period, you can exchange it for a new one or return it for a no-questions-asked refund.

Buying a quality used car has never been easier, more convenient, or more transparent.