Buying a vehicle online

Remote consumers can purchase or lease a motor vehicle from an AMVIC-licensed business without visiting the automotive business in person. Online sales are allowed, as long as the business has a brick and mortar location. Laws that normally apply to vehicle purchasing in the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) still apply when shopping online, as does the Internet Sales Contract Regulation (ISCR). This regulation does not apply if you are buying from a private individual.

Get the information you are entitled to

You must be provided with all required information and it must be prominently displayed on the business’s website. Over and above the information you are normally entitled to, the ISCR requires disclosure of refund policies which can be found under laws and regulations.

Test drives

A salesperson can take a vehicle to the consumer for a test drive, as long as the test drive is solely to evaluate the vehicle’s performance, suitability and condition before buying, and for no other reason. A bill of sale can also be signed, as long as the salesperson delivered the vehicle and not a delivery service.

Internet sales and “cooling off” period

The ISCR allows for cancelling of a contract under very specific circumstances, such as the vehicle is not as represented, or the disclosure or delivery requirements were not met. If you need to cancel the contract under these conditions, and the business fails to refund money after proper notice, you can consider taking legal action to recover the funds.

No “cooling-off” period refers to a situation such as if you decide you don’t like the vehicle or you can’t afford the payments. In those cases, the vehicle cannot be returned.

Protect yourself online

The internet is a valuable resource. It connects legitimate businesses with consumers who want to buy quality products and services. Unfortunately, the internet is also used by fraudsters and curbers.

Ask these questions when you are viewing online advertisements:

  • Who is selling the vehicle? Is it a business or a private seller?
  • Is the business licensed by AMVIC? Use our search tool to find out.
  • Has a private seller advertised more than one vehicle for sale? The seller may be a curber.
  • What is the hook in the advertisement? Is it the price; the payment terms; low mileage; or other claims about the vehicle’s condition?
  • Is the vehicle history included in the online ad?
  • What questions do you need answered?

When buying over the phone, even from an AMVIC-licensed business, keep these points in mind:

  • If you have to put down a deposit to secure the vehicle, ask if the deposit is refundable or not. Ask questions and ensure you get a deposit agreement in writing.
  • Stay in control of the transaction. Never be rushed into buying. Make it clear that you want to view and test drive the vehicle first before a purchase agreement is made.
  • Be critical of exaggerated claims made by private sellers. Licensed businesses follow an advertising code of conduct, private sellers do not.
  • Read fraud warnings and safety tips posted on internet classified sites.
  • Remember, there are thousands of vehicles for sale at any given time. If a deal doesn’t work out, there will be other vehicles to buy.


Internet sales come with greater requirements as per the ISCR as compared to a traditional transaction. The Government of Alberta has produced a helpful fact sheet on internet shopping you can refer to before you decide to shop online.