If you’ve ever bought or sold a car or motorcycle before, then you’ve likely filled out or signed a bill of sale.
An Alberta bill of sale is a paper contract that is used when personal property (most often a vehicle) is being sold or purchased. A bill of sale is similar to a receipt and contains personal information about both the buyer and seller. It also details important information about the piece of property that is being exchanged.
Below, I’ll give you a thorough breakdown on how to fill out an Alberta bill of sale, explain why and when you should use one, and answer a few other frequently asked questions.
A bill of sale in Alberta looks about the same as a bill of sale in any other province. These documents have been used for over a hundred years, and their design hasn’t changed much over the years.
Essentially, a bill of sale clarifies details about a piece of property to be sold, and includes detailed information on the individual buying the property as well as the individual selling the property.
A bill of sale is a very important piece of paper to have because it serves as definitive proof that you own the piece of personal property. For example, when you purchase a brand-new vehicle, there must be a bill of sale showing that you legally purchased the vehicle before a title can be issued.
It’s not uncommon to use a bill of sale for gift-giving as well. For example, a parent might “sell” an old vehicle to their child for $1, so that the child can put the asset under their name.
A bill of sale generally consists of the following information:
- Name, address, and contact information of the seller
- Detailed information on the vehicle or asset being sold
- Name, address, and contact information of the buyer
- The amount that the property is being sold for
- The date and location of the sale
- Signatures from both the buyer and seller, as well as a third-party witness
A bill of sale may also outline special conditions specifying how the asset is to be paid for (cash, money order, certified cheque, etc.). At the end, there’s also an empty box for the seller to list other conditions of the sale.
This is often used when collector’s items and family heirlooms are being passed down to the younger generation to ensure that they don’t end up in a pawn shop.
Most banks can issue a generic bill of sale. This is one of the reasons why people often buy and sell autos at a bank. Traditionally, a banker would act as a witness and sign the bill of sale. Once the bill of sale was complete, the banker could then immediately (and safely) transfer the funds to the seller’s accounts.
While many people still conduct vehicle sales this way, it’s just as common to see vehicle sales take place virtually. In Alberta, you can download a bill of sale from the Alberta government site.
You can also download a comprehensive bill of sale, which requires more detailed information about the asset and allows the seller to create additional sales conditions.
The nice thing about everything going digital is that it’s a lot easier to fill out as well. Most of the important information on the bill of sale can be completed online by filling out the blanks. Then, the document just needs to be printed and signed by the buyer, seller, and witness.
Whenever you’re selling, purchasing, or leasing a vehicle in Alberta, you’re legally required to complete a bill of sale. Without a bill of sale, the sale or leasing agreement is not considered legitimate.
A bill of sale is necessary for:
- Off-road vehicles
- Heavy machinery that’s powered by an engine (such as a tractor)
Pretty much anything that can be considered a vehicle requires a bill of sale. A bill of sale verifies who the legal owner of a vehicle is. For example, if you purchase a new tractor and it’s stolen a week later, the police department may ask you to present a bill of sale to prove that you are, in fact, the owner.
A bill of sale can also be helpful if you plan on selling or trading the vehicle at some point in the future. Potential buyers often ask to see proof that you are the owner, so they can verify that it’s not stolen property. While a vehicle title is the best proof of ownership, a bill of sale is the next best thing.
Now that you know a little bit more about how a bill of sale works and why they’re so important, you may be wondering how to go about filling a bill of sale out. Thankfully, they’re fairly simple and straightforward documents that don’t require a lot of effort to complete.
Here’s how to fill out an Alberta bill of sale.
The same rules apply to pretty much any other bill of sale that you’ll find in any other Canadian province as well.
Just as your retail shop issues a receipt to customers, writing a bill of sale starts with the seller of the vehicle. The seller should include all of their personal information on the bill of sale, including:
- Full name
- Telephone number
- Mailing address
- Driver’s license number (or ID number)
All of this information is provided to verify that you are the rightful, legal owner of the piece of property being sold. If there is ever a question of ownership in the future, this information will be used by authorities to contact you so that you can provide additional proof of ownership.
The second part of the bill of sale should also be completed by the seller. In this section, the seller will provide detailed information about the vehicle that’s being sold. This starts with providing key details that verify ownership as well as the condition of the vehicle, including:
- VIN number (the unique vehicle identification number, which can be verified by the manufacturer)
- The make of the vehicle
- The model of the vehicle
- The manufacture year of the vehicle
- The colour of the vehicle
- The style of the vehicle (coupe, sedan, truck, motorcycle, etc.)
- The odometer reading (how many kilometres or hours the vehicle has been in operation for)
It’s important to fill this information out as accurately as possible to prevent any misunderstandings with the buyer. Providing an accurate odometer reading is especially important, as this can be a common point of dispute with certain buyers.
Next, the buyer will need to complete the form by listing their personal information. This section includes key details about the buyer, such as:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Mailing address
- Drivers license or ID number
Explain to your buyer that it’s important for them to fill out the form accurately, as it could be difficult for them to obtain a title in their name if the information isn’t correct.
Once the buyer, seller, and vehicle information have been completed, the main body of the bill of sale should include all of the details necessary to proceed. To finalize the sale, you’ll need to include a few basic details about the sale, including:
- The date of the sale
- The city the sale took place in
- Province the sale took place in (important if you’re buying or selling a vehicle in another province)
Additionally, this section will also have spaces for three signatures from the buyer, seller, and a third-party witness. This part must be signed by hand and cannot be completed online (unless you’re using a digital eSign program like Docusign).
The final section of a bill of sale gives the seller an opportunity to detail special conditions for the sale. For example, a seller may specifically request cash or a money order. If the buyer doesn’t present the seller’s desired form of payment, then the bill of sale isn’t valid.
Other special conditions could include a time period that the vehicle must be kept for before it’s sold or conditions about modifying the vehicle. Luxury car manufacturers like Ferrari or Bugatti often include these special editions when they’re selling a limited edition vehicle from the factory.
One example was when Ford released its Ford GT supercar. Only a few were sold, and each buyer was given a stipulation that they weren’t allowed to resell the vehicle for at least two years after the date of purchase. Buyers who violated this were either blacklisted or sued by Ford.
It may sound a bit unfair, but this condition is put in place to prevent the buyer from turning an immediate profit by selling the vehicle to an un-vetted buyer.
The final step of completing a bill of sale is to print it out and have all of the required parties sign the document. The seller and buyer will both provide their handwritten signature along with the date of the signature.
Then, a third-party witness (usually a banker or lawyer) will review the bill of sale to ensure that it’s properly filled out, and provide their witness signature on the document.
With all of the information about the sale completed and three signatures on the paper, the bill of sale is now complete and legitimate.
In Alberta (and most other provinces), the process for making a personal sale is a bit different from making a business sale. If you’re just trying to sell a personal vehicle that you own, then you’ll only need to complete a standard Alberta bill of sale.
However, if you’re a licensed vehicle reseller or own a small business repairing and reselling used vehicles, then you’ll need to complete a comprehensive bill of sale. This document typically includes additional information about the seller’s business and is mostly used for tax reporting.
To wrap everything up, here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about using a bill of sale in Alberta.
Yes. A bill of sale is legally required by the province of Alberta to legitimize a sale. A completed bill of sale is necessary for cars, trucks, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, and even some pieces of heavy equipment.
A bill of sale is an important document that provides proof of ownership. However, you cannot drive with a bill of sale by itself. To legally drive, you not only need to be licensed to drive but you’ll also need proof of insurance in addition to proof of ownership.
Until you receive your new vehicle registration paperwork, the bill of sale can serve as proof of ownership. However, you’ll still need proof of insurance and a license to drive in Alberta.
Yes. Most of the information on a bill of sale can be completed online through the province of Alberta’s website. After the information is completed online, the document can be printed and hand-signed by the buyer, seller, and a witness.
It depends. Technically, a bill of sale is only required for vehicles. So, if the equipment in question is a vehicle (such as a tractor or snowmobile), you should complete a bill of sale. If you’re just selling a set of drills or wrenches, then you don’t necessarily need to.
However, I do recommend completing a bill of sale for certain pieces of expensive equipment, even if they’re not vehicles. It never hurts to have additional proof of ownership in the event that the equipment is lost or stolen.
In Alberta, a bill of sale can be completed between the buyer and the seller. Although it’s recommended to have a third-party witness or notary to sign the bill of sale, it is not required.
Completing a bill of sale in Alberta is fairly simple, especially now that most of the information can be completed online.
Ultimately, a bill of sale is just a contractual agreement that transfers ownership of a vehicle or asset to another individual. It helps the state keep record of vehicle sales and proves who the legal owner of a vehicle is.
Buying, fixing, and flipping used cars is a great side hustle to get into if you’re mechanically inclined. It’s just one of many different side hustles that you can read more about here!