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What is a Bill of Sale in Alberta? | How to Write and Template

Written by Jessica Steer
When buying or selling a vehicle it is important to verify that you have gotten or given the bill of sale. This is, essentially, transferring ownership of the vehicle and allows you to insure/uninsured the vehicle. In every province, the bill of sale process is slightly different. Not only is it important to have a bill of sale when purchasing a vehicle, but it is also recommended to obtain a bill of sale for most large and/or expensive purchases. Let’s take a look at how this process works in Alberta.
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    Do you need a bill of sale in Alberta?

    In Alberta, a bill of sale is needed to buy, sell or lease a vehicle. This document provides information about the buyer and seller as well as the vehicle. It is used to register the vehicle into the buyer’s name allowing them to insure the vehicle. It also states the date of purchase and the purchase prices. Not only does this help calculate the taxes that need to be paid on the purchased vehicle, it is also a legal document that essentially acts as a receipt. In order for it to be valid there are a few pieces of information that need to be included:

    • Buyer’s name/Signature
    • Seller's name/Signature
    • Vehicle information

    Along with these few pieces of mandatory information, there are a few other details that are optional but recommended.

    • Method of Payment and terms
    • Liens
    • If the vehicle is fully paid for
    • Witness Signatures
    • ID and contact numbers of seller and buyer
    • Sale conditions if any
    • Last place the vehicle was registered

    Once it is verified that the bill of sale includes all of the pertinent information, the buyer is then able to transfer ownership of the vehicle into their name and insure it. It can be a bit tricky to verify all of the information is filled out correctly. Here is a rundown of what is normally required on a bill of sale.

    How to fill out a Bill of Sale

    When filling out a bill of sale, we have already gone over the basic requirements, but what information do you need about the vehicle? Well, it is required to put down:

    • Year
    • Style
    • Colour
    • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
    • Odometer Reading
    • Make/Model

    This information not only distinguishes the vehicle and proves ownership, it also helps insurance companies calculate the cost of your vehicle’s insurance. Any vehicle sale is not considered to be finalized until both the buyer and seller sign. When the seller signs the contract they are verifying that the buyer has paid them and they are finalizing the deal.

    Is the bill of sale all that is required to purchase a vehicle?

    While a bill of sale is the only mandatory thing that has to be done before purchasing a vehicle in Alberta, it is recommended (when purchasing a used vehicle) to run the VIN number through a vehicle history search. This tells you if there are any past liens on the vehicle, accidents, or insurance claims. It is also recommended to get a vehicle inspection (ask for a 201-point inspection) to ensure the vehicle is in working order.

    These things are recommended before finalizing the deal in order to ensure you made the best purchase. Once the bill of sale has been signed by both parties the deal is final and you can no longer change your mind.

    What vehicles need a Bill of Sale in Alberta?

    The types of vehicles that need bills of sale are more than just your standard vehicle sale. It applies to all sorts of vehicles, and not just for private sales, it also applies to businesses. Pretty much any vehicle that needs insurance or is being towed behind a vehicle requires a bill of sale. Because of this, a bill of sale is required for trailers.

    Is a Bill of Sale Needed for Trailers?

    Since a bill of sale is required for trailers. Here are a few examples:

    • RV’s
    • Car Trailers
    • Motorcycle trailers
    • Fifth Wheels
    • Travel Trailers
    • Utility Trailers
    • Boat Trailers

    Even though the Bill of Sale is mainly required to register and insure a vehicle, it is also required to insure any type of trailer. This is not just for insurance purposes though, the Bill of Sale makes the sale legally binding and that way you can prove you purchased the item in a court of law if it comes to that. If you were to purchase the vehicle from a business it would come with one, so be sure to always ask for one when you purchase privately. Though it is not required, many people prefer to get a bill of sale for most things of value that they purchase.

    Do you need a bill of sale for equipment?

    While a Bill of Sale for equipment is not entirely needed it is recommended to prove ownership. When I say equipment, I’m not referring to heavy-duty equipment like excavators, I mean things like:

    • Appliances such as a fridge or stove
    • Power tools like generators or air compressors
    • Office Electronics
    • Camera/ Video Equipment
    • Large hobby items like camping/ fishing equipment

    Most of the time when we buy or sell these things a bill of sale does not even cross our minds. We don’t think it is likely we need to prove that we purchased the item. However, it does not hurt to ask for/obtain a bill of sale in these cases.

    For example: Say you purchase a camera and down the line the person you purchased the camera from claims it is worth a lot of money and that they never sold it to you. If you have a bill of sale, you can prove that they did. While a situation like this may not be extremely likely to occur it never hurts to be able to prove that you now legally own the item.

    Is there more than one type of bill of sale in Alberta?

    Short answer? Yes, there is. There are a few different types of bills of sale. There is the Standard Bill of Sale, Comprehensive Bill of Sale, and the Equipment Bill of Sale which we already discussed above.

    Standard Bill of Sale

    The standard bill of sale is the vehicle bill of sale that requires the pertinent information to transfer ownership as well as insure the vehicle. This is used for all vehicles that are privately sold.

    Comprehensive Bill of Sale

    This is the type that is used by businesses when selling a vehicle. While it is similar to and requires the same information as the standard bill of sale, it does require that the business information is included. It requires:

    • Name of the business owner
    • Business Address
    • Business License Number
    • Name of the sales associate if applicable
    • Sales associate’s registration number

    They are also required to list the trade-in information if there was any, the payment method and conditions, and any deposit or special agreements. Not only does this information protect the business but it also protects the buyer.

    What does the Alberta Bill of Sale look like?

    For the bill of sale documents, there are 2 different forms. The vehicle bill of sale and then the equipment bill of sale. As you can see below, they look quite different. Since the vehicle bill of sale is required in order to buy and sell, the details asked for are a lot more specific. They are also given to government agencies to complete the registration, so all of the marked Fields must be completed.

    The equipment bill of sale, while still a legal document, is not required to complete the sale. Below is just a general example of one of the many different kinds of equipment bill of sales out there.

    Is the Bill of Sale legally binding?

    No matter which bill of sale you are using, whether for a vehicle or anything else, it is considered a legally binding document that would hold up in court. Think of it as a receipt. Not only does it prove that you purchased the item, but it also shows the date. And because the seller’s signature is required on the document, it proves they consent to the sale.

    This isn’t just true for Alberta; this is the same all throughout Canada. Even though each province has its own forms, the general rules still apply.

    Can you drive with a bill of sale?

    One of the most common questions buyers have is whether or not they can drive with just the bill of sale after a vehicle is purchased. In Alberta, you cannot drive with just the bill of sale. However, that does not mean that you have to insure the new vehicle right away.

    Proof of insurance, as well as the bill of sale, is required in order to drive a vehicle. The exception is that, if you have current insurance and registration on another valid license plate and the valid bill of sale for the vehicle, you are able to drive that vehicle for 2 weeks after you purchase it before its own insurance has to be put on it. This is standard protocol in many parts of Canada, just with different time limits in different provinces. However, it is important to check with your insurance agency before doing this because there are some restrictions as to whether a truck plate can go on a car or vice versa.


    When you are looking to buy and sell in Alberta, it is important to keep in mind that you do need a bill of sale for a vehicle, but it is recommended for equipment. While the rules are similar throughout Canada, each province has its own specific rules regarding bills of sale. If you are unsure of these or have some more questions, be sure to check on the AMVIC website or with your insurance broker.

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