Understanding personal & business vehicle use

Person driving vehicle with two hands on steering wheel looking at traffic ahead

The distinction between personal and business vehicle use can be confusing at times. Whether you’re self-employed or an employee of a business, it’s crucial to understand the distinction between the two for taxation and compliance purposes.

In this article we’ll attempt to provide some clarity as to what is considered “personal use” and what is considered “business use” as well as provide some best practices. We’ll also explore tax implications, insurance considerations, legal obligations and provide practical tips for managing both types of vehicle use.

The difference between personal and business vehicle use

Personal vehicle use includes any driving without a business purpose, such as commuting between home and a regular place of employment. A regular place of employment can be an office, store, construction site or any other location where an employee consistently reports to work.

In contrast, business vehicle use involves travel for work-related purposes, such as visiting clients, attending meetings, or transporting goods. When employees have multiple regular work locations and travel between them during the day, only the trips from home to the first location and from the last location to home are considered personal driving. All other travel between work locations qualifies as business use.

Tax Implications

Claiming Vehicle Expenses for Business Use

If you use your vehicle for business purposes, you may be eligible for tax deductions or expense claims. Some eligible expenses include fuel, maintenance, insurance and depreciation. To calculate deductions, you can use either a physical logbook or available digital apps.

It’s essential to maintain accurate records of your business mileage and expenses to substantiate your claims and consult with a tax professional for personalized advice.

Impact on Personal Taxes

Employer-provided vehicles or allowances for business use may result in taxable benefits for employees. It’s crucial to understand these benefits and report them accurately on personal tax returns.

Tips for Managing Personal and Business Vehicle Use

  1. Maintain accurate records of your business mileage and expenses, using either a physical logbook or a digital app.
  2. Implement strategies to minimize tax liability, such as claiming eligible vehicle expenses and maximizing deductions.
  3. Balance personal and business use by clearly defining which trips qualify as business-related.
  4. Regularly review your insurance coverage to ensure it meets your needs as your business evolves.


Understanding the difference between personal and business vehicle use is essential for business owners in Canada. By adhering to the appropriate tax and regulatory framework, maintaining accurate records, and choosing the right insurance coverage, you can effectively manage both types of vehicle use and protect your business interests.

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