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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

Understanding the UVIP - Vehicle Details

Jan 15

Friday, January 15, 2021  RssIcon

Last month’s blog discussed what car buyers should know if they buy from a registered dealer or a private seller. Buying from a registered dealer offers protections, but buying privately is risky: if something goes wrong with a purchase, OMVIC cannot help.

If you buy privately, protect yourself. Understanding how to read a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) will help you learn more about the car you buy from a private seller. It may help keep you safe from fraud or unsafe vehicles.

The UVIP is important. Issued through Service Ontario, it helps private buyers understand the history of the car they are purchasing. You also need one to sell a used vehicle privately in Ontario. Sellers must purchase and fill in the package with the correct information before they can sell the vehicle.

Consumers are free to purchase a UVIP directly from Service Ontario for twenty dollars. 

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How we'll explain the UVIP

January's blog posts will explain the terms on a UVIP, breaking it down section by section. Consumers should know key terms and why they matter. This blog post explains the terms found in the UVIP’s first section: vehicle details.Next week's post will explain details found in sections two and three: previous vehicle ownership and vehicle history. After that, the blog explains what’s found in sections four and five: lien information and the bill of sale. In the final week, we will create an infographic of the information to double-check, like the branding, lien information and ensuring the vehicle information number (VIN) on the vehicle matches the number on the document.

What information can I find in a UVIP?

UVIPs contain vehicle registration history in Ontario, including all previous Ontario owners. The vehicle’s full description, its retail sales tax information and alerts about any registered liens on the vehicle can be found on the document.

Understanding the terms used in section one

The VIN – This is the Vehicle Identification Number. It holds 17 numbers and letters unique to the vehicle. It is the car's fingerprint; no two vehicles will have the same one. Ensure the VIN’s UVIP matches the one on the seller’s car.

Plate number: Some vehicles may still have the previous owner's license plate number. If so, the seller will record the number here.

Year: This refers to the car’s model year. To verify the correct year is on the contract, check the VIN. The 10th character in the VIN represents the vehicle model-year.

Colour: The vehicle's colour.

Body type: This refers to the car's shape. There are nine distinctive shapes: sedan, hatchback, coupe, convertible, truck, station wagon, van, SUV, and crossover.

Number of cylinders: Most vehicles have four, six, or eight cylinders. Generally, more cylinders mean more engine power. Fewer cylinders mean better fuel economy.

Power: What powers the engine: typically, it’s gasoline, diesel, electricity, or a hybrid: gas and electricity.

Brand: Branding lets you know the vehicle’s working conditionThere are four brands for vehicles in Ontario:

  • Irreparable: the vehicle can never be used on the road again; it can only be used for parts.
  • Salvaged: a salvaged vehicle has been written off as a total loss, but if it is repaired and passes a structural inspection test and is inspected by an authorized technician it can be rebranded as rebuilt.
  • Rebuilt: a repaired salvaged vehicle, after a passed structural test and inspection from an authorized technician, can be classified as rebuilt.
  • None: this does not mean the vehicle has never been in an accident; it means the degree of damage is not enough to receive branding.
Note: the only acceptable brands for any consumer buying a used vehicle for use on the road are Rebuilt and None. Visit MTO’s page on vehicle branding for more information about how brandings can impact purchases.

Wholesale price:  The average price dealers pay when buying vehicles from other dealers. Prices do not include options like air conditioning, cruise control or sound systems.

Retail Price: The price the seller charges you for the vehicle.

Retail tax: The retail sales tax figure is calculated by whichever is higher: the sale price or the average wholesale value.

Learn more

Check out next week’s blog to learn about the terms in sections two and three: current registrants and vehicle history.To learn more about VINs, check out our blog post Understanding Contracts: Vehicle Description. For tips on buying a car privately, watch our OMVIC Academy video Buying from a Private Seller.If you have a car-buying question before or after you purchase a vehicle, contact OMVIC’s Consumer Support Services


As the regulator of motor vehicle sales in Ontario, OMVIC’s mandate is to maintain a fair and informed marketplace by protecting the rights of consumers, enhancing industry professionalism and ensuring fair, honest and open competition for registered motor vehicle dealers. Visit to learn more about your car-buying rights as well as additional tips for buying a car in Ontario. For car buying tips, check out the OMVIC Academy. You can view other resources such as multilingual videos and download the OMVIC Car-buying Guide

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