The Ultimate Guide to the Used Vehicle Information Package

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 03 Aug 2023

a car parked on a street

If you’re seeking a used car in Ontario, you’ve probably come across the term Used Vehicle Information Package or UVIP. So, what are they and how do they make an informed decision when buying a used vehicle? In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about UVIPs and how they empower you.

Understanding the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP)

Before diving into the details, let’s start by understanding what exactly a UVIP is and why it matters.

When it comes to buying a used car, you have many factors to consider. You want to make sure you’re making a wise investment and not inheriting any hidden surprises. That’s where the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) comes in.

What is a UVIP?

A UVIP provides valuable information about a used car. It goes beyond what you can gather from a simple test drive or a visual inspection. It includes details about the vehicle, its registration history, any liens or outstanding debts and even the appropriate price.

Imagine you’re considering buying a car from a private seller. They may tell you that the car is in excellent condition and has never been involved in any accidents. However, without a UVIP, you have no way of verifying this information. The UVIP acts as a reliable source of truth, giving you an unbiased account of the vehicle’s past.

Under Ontario law, the seller must provide prospective buyers with a full UVIP for cars, trucks, vans, motorhomes and motorcycles. However, a used vehicle information package is not required when you buy from a used car lot. The seller also dodges this responsibility when the transaction occurs between taxi licence holders or family members.

It also does not apply if the buyer comes from outside Ontario or gets purchased from a registered motor vehicle dealer. Additionally, if you donate it to a charity or sell it to a hospital, municipality, school board, university or college, this package doesn’t apply.

Why is a UVIP Important?

When buying a used car, it’s crucial to have as much information as possible. A UVIP gives you a clear understanding of the vehicle’s condition, ownership history and any potential financial obligations you might inherit.

Let’s say you’re interested in a particular car and the UVIP reveals that it has had multiple owners within a short period. This could be a red flag, indicating that there may be underlying mechanical issues or other problems with the vehicle. Armed with this information, you can decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase.

Additionally, the UVIP provides details about any liens or outstanding debts associated with the vehicle. For example, if you were to purchase a car with an outstanding lien, you could become responsible for paying off that debt. By reviewing the UVIP, you can avoid potential financial headaches down the road.

Furthermore, the UVIP includes the average current price of the vehicle, giving you insights into how the price has changed over time. This information can be helpful when negotiating the price with the seller, ensuring that you’re getting a fair deal.

How to Obtain a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) in Ontario

Now that you understand the importance of a UVIP, let’s explore how you can obtain one in Ontario. A UVIP is a crucial document that provides important information about a used vehicle, including its history and any liens against it. This package is essential for anyone looking to buy or sell a used vehicle in the province.

Steps to Get a UVIP

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation makes obtaining a UVIP really straightforward. You can request a UVIP from the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario either online or in person. If you choose to go the online route, you can order one via the official website of the Ministry of Transportation and follow the instructions provided. The online option offers convenience and allows you to request the UVIP from the comfort of your own home.

If you prefer to obtain the UVIP in person, you can visit a ServiceOntario location near you. The friendly staff will guide you through the process and ensure that you have all the necessary information to complete the request. Of course, you will need to provide your driver’s licence and proof of vehicle ownership when requesting the UVIP in person.

Once you have submitted your request, the Ministry of Transportation will process it and prepare your UVIP. This usually takes five business days, but during busy periods, it may take longer. Once your UVIP is ready, it will be mailed to your address. If you need it urgently, ServiceOntario staff can complete it in one in-person visit.

Costs Associated with Obtaining a UVIP

As of August 2023, the fee for a UVIP in Ontario is $20. The fee must be paid at the time of the request. You can make the payment by Visa, Mastercard or Interac Online either online or at a ServiceOntario location in person. 

Remember, this fee is non-refundable since the staff provide you with the full report. Therefore, make sure you have all the necessary information and are ready to proceed before making the payment.

Decoding the UVIP: What Information is Included?

Now that you have your hands on a UVIP, let’s unravel the valuable information it contains.

The Used Vehicle Information Package delivers a comprehensive summary with crucial details about a vehicle’s history and characteristics. This essential tool offers insights that can help any individual make an informed decision.

Vehicle Details

The UVIP provides detailed information about the vehicle itself, including the make, model, VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and specifications. This section gives you a clear understanding of the car’s features and helps verify its identity. It also includes information about the vehicle’s production year, colour, engine size and body type, enabling you to assess its suitability for your needs.

Additionally, the UVIP may include information about any modifications made to the vehicle, such as aftermarket parts or upgrades. This can be valuable for buyers who are specifically looking for customized or enhanced vehicles.

Registration History

Want to know how many previous owners the vehicle has had or if it has ever been reported stolen? The registration history section of the UVIP provides all these necessary details. It’s like a car’s personal diary, chronicling every change of ownership.

By examining the registration history, you can determine the length of time each owner possessed the vehicle. Even better, you can assess where it’s been or if it has changed hands frequently. You also get specific odometer readings for each previous owner. This information can be particularly useful when evaluating the overall condition and reliability of the car.

Lien Information

This essential section ensures that the vehicle you’re considering doesn’t have any outstanding debts or financial obligations tied to it. Thus, it helps protect you from any surprises or unforeseen financial burdens.

For instance, liens can arise when the previous owner used the vehicle as collateral for a used car loan. Perhaps they had unpaid fines or fees associated with the car. The UVIP will provide details, so you can proceed with the purchase or negotiate the resolution of outstanding debts.

Wholesale value

Curious about the vehicle’s average wholesale price? The UVIP also includes a section that shows you how much similar models sell for. This information can be useful when negotiating the price with the seller.

Now, you can gain insights into the vehicle’s value at this moment in time. This can help you assess whether the current asking price is reasonable and in line with market trends. It also provides a basis for negotiation with the person selling the car.

Furthermore, the UVIP will say how much retail sales tax you must pay if you agree to the average wholesale price. This detail helps you budget more accurately for this additional, mandatory expense.

Vehicle condition

Hoods and paint jobs can hide a variety of sins on a used car. However, the UVIP unveils any hidden secrets so you don’t end up with a lemon. If the previous owner tells you upfront about any problems, then you don’t need this. But it shields you in case they choose an evasive approach.

Before selling a car, the previous owner must procure a Safety Standards Certificate. This document ensures that critical systems, like brakes and the engine, work properly. Therefore, the UVIP includes a requirement for that certificate so you know the car is mechanically fit. This will save you from potential crashes and unexpected, expensive repairs.

This report will also inform you if the car has ever been completely dismantled or crushed. Yes, it could have been lovingly restored, but you need to know this part of its history. 

Bill of sale

Finally, the UVIP will provide a bill of sale section so you and the seller can provide the level of detail required. This includes the vehicle identification number (VIN), details about the car, purchase price and taxes collected and the transaction date. Naturally, you’ll also include the name, address and signature of the current owner and the name and address of the buyer.

How to Use the UVIP When Buying a Used Car

Now that you have all the information, how can you effectively use the UVIP when purchasing a used car?

Buying a used car can be an exciting but daunting process. You want to make sure you’ll get a reliable vehicle that fits your needs and budget. That’s where the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) comes in. 

Verifying Vehicle Information

Start by carefully reviewing the vehicle details section of the UVIP to ensure that they match the information provided by the seller. Look for any discrepancies or inconsistencies that may raise concerns.

For example, pay attention to the make, model, and year of the car. Make sure they align with what the seller has advertised. Additionally, check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the UVIP and compare it to the VIN on the car’s dashboard and registration documents. This step helps you confirm that you’re dealing with the right vehicle and not a case of mistaken identity.

Checking for Liens and Outstanding Debts

Next, focus on the lien information section. Ensure that there are no active liens or outstanding debts against the vehicle. This step helps you avoid any financial complications down the road.

Liens can be placed on a vehicle if the previous owner owes money to a lender or has used the car as collateral for a loan. If it has any liens, it means that the seller doesn’t have full ownership of the vehicle. As a result, the lender could potentially repossess the vehicle you’re driving. By checking the UVIP for liens, you can protect yourself from unknowingly purchasing a car with financial obligations attached to it.

Assessing the Fair Market Value

The wholesale value section serves as your secret weapon when it comes to negotiation. Compare this number with the current asking price to determine if the seller’s price seems fair. This information can give you leverage during negotiations.

The average price tells you the amount dealers typically pay when buying vehicles from other dealers. Of course, this may not factor in options like air conditioning, cruise control or sound systems. However, it does give you a baseline, especially if you haven’t bought many cars previously. 

If the price seems too high, you can use the UVIP data as evidence to negotiate a better deal. This can boost your confidence just when you need it most.

Remember, the UVIP is just one tool in your arsenal when buying a used car. Also, conduct a thorough inspection, take the car for a test drive and consider getting a professional mechanic’s opinion.

By digging into the information provided in the UVIP, you can make a well-informed decision when buying a used car in Ontario. Remember, a UVIP is your ultimate resource for understanding the vehicle’s history and ensuring a smooth transaction.

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications