If you want to buy a vehicle in Canada as a tourist, you’ll need to provide a residence address. When we did this in New Brunswick, we even had to provide an actual “proof of residency”.
However, as a tourist, you probably won’t have a home where you’ll be staying all the time. Yet, if you want to buy a campervan to travel in as we did, you’re going to need “proof of residency”.
So, how can you get proof that you live somewhere without actually living there? In this article, I’ll show you what Rachel and I did, and how we made it possible to travel in our campervan in Canada and the USA for a full year without actually being formal residents!
- Options for residential addresses
- Can you use a PO box as an address on your vehicle registration?
- How do you get proof of residency as a tourist?
- Wrapping up
Options for residential addresses
As a tourist, you’ll need to give a residential address when you want to register a vehicle. There are a couple of options available here:
- Use the address of friends or family.
- Use a professional service.
- Find someone willing in a Facebook group.
- Find a willing Airbnb host.
I’ll discuss these options below:
1. Use the address of friends or family
This is the most straightforward option. If you have friends or family living in the province you want to register your vehicle in, then you should go with their address! You most likely already have a relationship of trust with each other, so to use this address on your vehicle registration won’t be a big deal.
When we bought our campervan in Canada, we didn’t have any friends or family in the country, so we had to resort to another option.
2. Use the address of the person you’re buying the vehicle from
We’ve found that a lot of people in this situation simply ask the seller of the vehicle if it’s okay to use their address on the registration.
If the seller is okay with this, then this solution is really simple. Just make sure you ask and communicate clearly. You don’t want to use someone’s address without them knowing about it.
We bought our campervan from someone in Quebec and eventually had it registered in New Brunswick, so for us, this wasn’t a suitable option.
3. Find someone willing in a Facebook group
There are lots of traveler groups on Facebook, where people talk about traveling in Canada all the time. These people are usually very understanding when it comes to issues like this.
So what you can do, is join one of these groups and simply explain your situation and ask if somebody can offer you their address.
Here are a couple of Facebook groups you can try:
- Vancouver RV Community
- Québec Vanning
- PanAmerican Travelers Association
- Travel New Brunswick
4. Find a willing Airbnb host
This is how we found a residential address to use on our vehicle registration.
We emailed three Airbnb hosts with the following message:
We are Hugo and Rachel and we’re 2 travelers from the Netherlands. We’ve been traveling in America for about 3 months now, and we are hoping to continue our travels in Canada. 🙂
We would love to stay at your Airbnb, but before I book, I have a (complicated) question. I’ll try my hardest to explain it as best as I can (and as quickly as I can).
We have bought a campervan and want to register it in New Brunswick. But the registration requires me to write down an address, and unfortunately, we don’t have this yet. Would it be okay if we used the address of your Airbnb in this case?
The reason they need it is that they might send a letter with information of our registration at the end of our year. Of course, I myself (Hugo) will be the only person stated in the insurance.
I would love to hear back from you!
All the best,
Hugo and Rachel
Out of the three Airbnbs we emailed, two replied to us positively. And eventually, we were able to use this address on our vehicle registration without any problem!
The only time someone really questioned us about this was when we crossed the border from Canada to the USA. The customs officer asked us where we registered our campervan, and I said we used the address of a friend. She asked how I knew this friend, and I said something like “I know him from over the internet”. Admittedly, I was getting a bit nervous at this point, as I didn’t want to admit this “friend” of mine was just another random Airbnb host.
She continued asking “can you explain how you know this person?”. And then I explained our situation to her: “We got to know each other via Airbnb, and that’s how we become “friends” and he let us use his address on the vehicle registration form.”
She looked a bit skeptical, but eventually said: “Okay, that checks out!”
Can you use a PO box as an address on your vehicle registration?
You have to remember that plate renewal papers and reimbursement will be sent to that address. If there’s no one to open your mail for you, then you’ll have no means to read any of your mail.
But more importantly, your vehicle insurance also requires an address. If you give them the address of a PO box, they will most likely not offer you insurance. For that reason, we decided that this wasn’t a good option for us.
How do you get proof of residency as a tourist?
We registered our campervan as a tourist in New Brunswick, Canada. This is one of the three Canadian provinces that allow tourists to register a vehicle.
New Brunswick requires a person to actually provide two pieces of “proof of residency”. This makes sense, as it stops people from just providing a random address on their vehicle registration.
Luckily, they clearly tell you what they view as proper proof on their website:
- Utility bill
- Credit card or bank statement
- Canceled or void cheque with address
- Mortgage documents
- Personal taxes (current year)
- Property tax bill
- Residential lease
- Social Assistance Benefit or Employment Insurance confirmation
- Employment confirmation or paystub
- Child Tax Credit cheque or paystub
- Insurance policy (home or auto) or pink auto insurance liability card
- Declaration from a Guarantor form
If you’re a tourist like we were when we bought our campervan, you basically only have 2 options to provide proof of residency:
- Utility bill
- Insurance policy
First is the utility bill. I’ve asked about these options over the phone, and the utility bill can be the invoice for your mobile phone plan. So what you can do is go to any of the phone plan providers (such as Rogers, Bell, or Chatr) and buy the most basic phone plan. You need to make sure you’ll have an invoice that shows the address where you want to register the vehicle.
The second option is the insurance policy. This is a no-brainer, as you’re going to need to have insurance anyway. In New Brunswick, we had to be insured even before we were allowed to register the vehicle.
Make sure these addresses match, and you’ll be good to go!
(Fun story: when I went to the Service New Brunswick office, the person behind the counter didn’t even ask me to provide the second proof of residency!) I only had to show my insurance document, which apparently was enough for them!)
Could you fake any of these documents? Probably, yes. Would you be caught? Probably not.
But would I recommend this? Absolutely not, as you’d be committing fraud. That’s not something you want to ever do, let alone as a tourist in another country.
As a tourist, there are multiple ways you can get a residential address for your vehicle registration. It took us a long time before we knew what our options were but eventually found one via a kind Airbnb host.
I hope this post has been helpful! Have you gone through the same process recently? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!