Seize the Debtor’s Assets

Last Reviewed: March 2023 Reviewed by: JES Download

Seize the Debtor’s Assets

If you know that the debtor owns assets, like a car, you can ask the court bailiff to take the car and sell it at a public auction. This procedure is costly, so you want to be sure that sale of the asset will generate enough money to pay the debt that is owed to you.

The Court Order Enforcement Act states that certain assets are exempt from seizure:

Jointly Owned Property

You cannot seize anything that the debtor owns jointly with someone else.

Personal property

  • Debtor can keep all necessary clothing
  • Debtor can keep medical aids for themselves, or a dependent
  • Debtor can keep $4,000 of household goods
  • Debtor can keep $10,000 of tools of the trade and
  • Debtor can keep $5,000 from a motor vehicle

Principal residence

  • Debtor can keep $12,000 equity of their principal residence if it is in the Greater Vancouver district and
  • Debtor can keep $9,000 equity of their personal residence if it is anywhere else in BC

Steps to seizing assets

The usual procedure for seizing the debtor’s assets is as follows. This example assumes that a car is being seized:

  1. Go to the court registry and tell the registrar that you want an order for seizure and sale
  2. The court registrar will approve the order, forward it to the court bailiff, and give a copy to you. Give the bailiff a copy of the information you received about the car
  3. You will have to give a deposit of money to the court bailiff to cover the cost of the seizure
  4. At the time of seizure, the bailiff will inform the debtor what is exempt from seizure. The debtor will have the opportunity to pay the debt before the car is seized
  5. If the debtor cannot pay, the bailiff seizes the car and sells it, usually at auction. The bailiff may not seize the car if its value is not great enough to cover the bailiff’s fee and the charges for towing, storage, auction, etc.

The most common items that are seized are motor vehicles. If you have not conducted an examination in aid of execution or a subpoena to the debtor, you may want to find out what vehicles the debtor owns, and whether it is owned jointly with someone else.

To do this, you can send a copy of the judgment to ICBC at:

ICBC, Vehicle Records Search Room 154,

151 W. Esplanade St.

North Vancouver, BC V7M 3H9

There is a fee for this service. (Call 1-800-464-5050 or 604-661-2233 for more information.)

Next, you need to find out if there is a security agreement or lien registered against the debtor’s vehicle. You can conduct a search at the personal property registry and there is a fee for this service. You can do this at your local Government Agent office, Motor Vehicle Licensing office, or at:

Personal Property Registry Ministry of Finance

PO Box 9431 Stn Prov Govt

Victoria BC V8W 9V3

More information can be obtained by calling (250-356-8600) or here.

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