Out with the Old: Transferring Vehicle Ownership with ICBC

With 2020 being what it was – unsettling, confusing, shocking, and anomalous (hopefully!) – many people are looking for something new, something fresh, something exciting in a time when there is not always much good news to be found.

Selling your old car and buying a new (or new-to-you) vehicle can be a way to freshen up your life a little, but do you know what to do with your ICBC insurance when you sell your vehicle? What about insuring the vehicle you just bought?

Here’s what you need to know about transferring vehicle ownership in BC:

  1. It all starts with a Transfer/Tax Form. Stop by your ICBC Autoplan broker and pick up a couple transfer forms. Due to current world circumstances, you can download copies of the Transfer/Tax form through the ICBC website by clicking here.
    1. The transfer form must be completed for all transfers of vehicle ownership, even if you purchase a vehicle new from a dealer, and it cannot have anything crossed/out, rewritten, or written illegibly. Tip: Always pick up/print-off more than one transfer form as the seller. If you make a mistake when writing out the information, even if it’s tiny, the form becomes invalid, so have a spare on-hand, just in case!
    2. When you purchase a vehicle from a car lot, they will complete the seller section of the form, and enter their company’s tax registration numbers, to prove to ICBC that tax has been collected on the vehicle.
    3. For private sales, the seller will complete the Seller Information and Vehicle Declaration section, and sign that section; they may also complete the Vehicle Description section. The purchaser will complete the rest of the form, except for the part labelled Autoplan Agent to Complete (this is for your broker to fill out when you are in the office), and sign under the purchaser’s declaration. The purchaser will pay tax on the vehicle when they register it, unless it is given as a gift. (Note: Only certain family members can give/receive vehicles as tax-free gifts – ask your ICBC auto insurance broker who is eligible, if you are gifting a vehicle.)
  2. The seller must sign the vehicle registration slip, and present it to the buyer. (It’s the bottom section of your insurance papers that shows the vehicle info.) If there are two registered owners of the vehicle, both must sign the registration (and the transfer papers).
  3. Normally, it is recommended that both the seller and the purchaser attend the Autoplan office together, in case there are any discrepancies. However, with pandemic restrictions, this may not always be possible. As long as the purchaser has the signed and completed transfer form, the signed registration, and their BC driver’s license (or other primary identification, such as a passport), they should be able to register it in their name.
  4. If the purchaser cannot get to the office right away, they can still drive the car for 10 days, provided that all the following conditions are met: the new vehicle is already registered in BC; valid BC license plates with active insurance from another vehicle the purchaser owns are affixed to the new vehicle; the vehicle these plates were on before has been sold or scrapped; and the old vehicle and the new vehicle are the same type (e.g. both are cars, both are trucks, both are trailers). While driving a new vehicle, with plates from your old vehicle, you must keep the following paperwork in your new vehicle: signed transfer form; signed registration; the documents showing the old vehicle was sold/disposed of; and the documents showing that there is active insurance associated with the license plates you are using (the insurance papers from your last vehicle). Note: certain vehicle and license plate types do not qualify for this. Contact your auto insurance broker before driving the new vehicle to make sure you are eligible.
  5. Once you have sold your vehicle, if you do not plan on purchasing another one, visit your ICBC insurance broker to cancel your insurance. Bring your insurance papers, the license plates, and your ID to the Autoplan office as soon as possible to maximize your refund. Remember: If there are two registered owners of the vehicle, both will need to attend the office to sign the cancellation paperwork.
  6. If you sell a vehicle and plan on buying another right away, keep your license plates and your insurance papers, and when you go to the ICBC broker’s office to register the new vehicle, bring your old plates and papers with you. This way, you can transfer the insurance from the old car you sold onto the new car you bought – this is not just efficient and environmentally-friendly, it will also save you money by avoiding the cancellation and new plate fees.
    1. Bring your plates and insurance papers from your old vehicle, even if you are changing vehicle types (e.g. you sold your car and bought a truck). Although car plates cannot be used on a truck, if you bring them in to transfer the coverage to the new truck, you will not have to pay for new plates; instead, you get a free plate substitution. Basically, you get new license plates that match the new vehicle type, without having to cancel the old plates and set up a whole new policy.
    2. When you transfer the insurance from your old vehicle onto your new one, take the opportunity to review your coverages. This is a great time to make any adjustments you may need. Perhaps your old car was worth very little and you did not carry collision coverage, but want it on your new, more valuable vehicle.
  7. In most situations, photocopies are unacceptable when registering or insuring vehicles through ICBC. Bring originals of everything – the registration, the transfer form, the power of attorney if you are registering a vehicle on someone else’s behalf – and the ICBC auto insurance agent will take copies if needed.

The requirements for registering vehicles purchased from other provinces are more complex. For an out-of-province registrations, or if you have a unique purchasing situation, call your Autoplan broker before venturing to an office, to make sure you have everything you need.

When all the required paperwork has been properly completed beforehand, registering a newly purchased vehicle in your name can take as little as 15 to 30 minutes.

Quick Summary

Seller: All registered owners of the vehicle must sign the transfer papers and the registration.

Buyer: Bring the transfer papers, registration, and your old license plates with you when you register and insure the new vehicle.

Morgan Thomas, BA (Dtn.)
Project Management & Customer Experience Coordinator