A Car Buyer’s Guide for Immigrants Moving to Ontario

A Car Buyer’s Guide for Immigrants Moving to Ontario

Written by DriveAxis.ca January 18, 2023

If you’re new to Canada, specifically the province of Ontario, you’re undoubtedly excited to begin a new chapter of your life in a brand new country. With that comes the need to secure a car so you can make your way to and from work, ferry the kids around, and pick up groceries and other items. Plus, you’ll want a car to explore the beauty of Ontario’s natural wilderness!

Is it difficult to buy a car in Ontario, particularly if you’re an immigrant? Not necessarily. Simply follow the basics outlined in this quick guide, and you’ll start out in a prime position to make your purchase. With a bit of patience and some determination, you’ll soon be cruising Ontario’s roads, highways and dirt trails in pursuit of your next adventure.


Before you can buy a car in Ontario, you’ll need the correct documents to guarantee that you’re fit to drive in accordance with provincial laws. The first, and most obvious of these is a driver’s license, which must take into account Ontario’s own G-grade licensing system. Keep in mind that International Driving Permits (IDPs) secured in your home country may only authorize you to drive in Canada for a short period of time. There are circumstances where you may exchange your IDP for a valid Ontario driver’s license, but you may need to partake in a Canadian driving test before this is allowed.

For those new to Canada with no driver’s license, you will need to start out at the beginning of the Graduated Driver’s License program in order to secure a G2, and later, a full G. If you had a full driver’s license in your home country, you may be able to exchange it for an Ontario driver’s license, or receive partial credit for the driving experience you already possess. If you decide to go this route, you will need to bring along your Canadian Citizenship Card, your original foreign license, and a Driver’s Abstract, which can typically be obtained from your home country’s licensing offices, a consulate, or similar.

Second, you’ll require proof of insurance in order to legally drive your car within the province of Ontario. This cannot be obtained without a driver’s license, but it is a vital part of the car buying process. Since you’re new to Canada, you will not be able to list your previous driving experience in your home country as a means to lower your insurance rate, so be mindful. You may need to start out with a more affordable car that carries a lower insurance rate per year, and gradually build your way up to a better one.

Third, you’ll need your vehicle registration, which completes the sale of a car and transfers ownership to you. Before the purchase has been completed, it must be registered with the Ontario government. This requires your driver’s license, proof of insurance and certificate of sale, or “pink slip.” Lastly, you’ll need a license plate number. Keep in mind that private sales between individuals require both parties to do the legwork themselves to make sure everything is in order, but if you buy your car from a dealership, they tend to do the heavy lifting for you.


In Ontario, you have the option to buy whatever car you choose from a private seller without penalty, but it is the responsibility of the seller to make sure it passes all safety inspection checks. Still, there’s no genuine way to tell if the car you’re buying is a lemon, or if it will go the distance. If you decide on a private sale, ask to bring the car in to see a mechanic who will look for issues that might arise after the purchase.

The other option is to buy from a dealership, which is considered far more safe and reliable. Even pre-owned vehicles are sold from highly reputable dealerships, such as we here at Drive Axis, and we back up our service with a rigorous 300 point inspection test to guarantee that the car you drive off the lot is safe, sturdy, and in tip top shape. A dealership relies on a great reputation to maintain business and attract more clientele, so they are quite willing to go the extra mile (or three) for the sake of customer satisfaction.


Leasing is an attractive prospect for those who wish to pay lower monthly payments, with the understanding that they will need to give the car back to the dealership after a certain amount of time. These fixed-term solutions work best for those who need to save money, but they do not offer anything in terms of collateral. Plus, you don’t actually own your own vehicle. You’re simply leasing it temporarily.

If you are able to afford it, financing is the better option, since you will own the vehicle outright upon completion of the payment schedule. From there, you can leverage your vehicle’s resale value to trade it in for a new car, sell it off in a private sale for one lump sum of money, or gift it to a family member. Many opt for leasing, especially if they do not possess the minimum credit rating required. Luckily, there’s a solution for that.


If you’re new to Canada, you won’t be able to take advantage of your previous credit history, regardless of how good it is. That’s a challenge for those who are just starting out, but don’t fret! There are always solutions that can solve two problems at once, and help you accelerate your integration. It’s true that banks and lenders will be far more hesitant to lend money for a car loan if you have no Canadian credit history, but Drive Axis has another method.

Our in-house financing department handles all the lending under our own roof, which means we have the final say. We are proud of our reputation for approving all car financing applications, regardless of bad or nonexistent credit. If you’ve just arrived in Canada and you have no credit to speak of, you can take advantage of our Guaranteed Loan Program, which helps build your credit rating at the very same time that you’re paying for your new car. It’s the best way to move forward and meet your financial goals, while securing the car of your dreams!


Are you new to Ontario, and looking to buy your first car? We’re fully confident that Drive Axis is your best option, and we invite you to contact us today. We’ll help you find the best car that suits your budget, lifestyle and family unit, while helping you build your Canadian credit score so that you can move onto bigger and better things.

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