With beautiful places to see like Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper, plus attractions, like the Calgary Stampede and Royal Tyrell Museum, Alberta is an amazing province to explore! Driving your vehicle throughout the province is such a magical experience. Whether you’re planning an adventurous fun road trip or you’ve made the commitment to move, it’s a great place! Here’s everything you need to know about driving in Alberta with out-of-province plates.
Visitors vs. new residents
There’s quite a difference between visiting Alberta and relocating to the province. Licensing and registration isn't an extra task for visitors. If you’re moving to Alberta, you will need to take a few extra steps.
If you’re visiting Alberta for a short stay, you shouldn’t have to worry about driving your car in the province as long as you have a valid Canadian driver’s license, license plate and insurance policy. You’re allowed to drive here, and you should be covered by your existing insurance policy back home.
If you’re visiting Alberta for an extended period of time, you should notify your insurance broker in advance so they can make any appropriate policy changes or increase your level of coverage if necessary.
If you’re moving to Alberta from another province, your driver’s license, plates and insurance policy will be valid for 90 days, starting on your first day living here. After this grace period, you will require Alberta-based documents in order to continue driving legally in the province.
How does the driver’s license system work in Alberta?
Alberta, like other provinces, operates on a system with different classes. Here are the different classes in Alberta:
- Class 1: Professional license to drive any vehicle
- Class 2: Professional license for buses
- Class 3: Vehicles with three or more axles
- Class 4: Professional license for taxi, ambulance and small buses
- Class 5: Standard driver’s license for cars, light trucks and motorhomes
- Class 6: Motorcycles and mopeds
- Class 7: Learner’s license for cars and motorcycles
Alberta uses a graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) system. The GDL license system was designed to ensure all new Alberta drivers gain the necessary experience, knowledge, instruction and support to pass the required road tests and knowledge test.
The GDL license comprises stage one learner and stage two probationary periods:
Stage One Learner
- Be at least 14 years old
- Pass a vision and knowledge test
- Have valid identification
- Have parental consent if you are under 18
- You must have your learner’s for at least one year
- You must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver at all times when driving
- Have zero alcohol level
- You are not allowed to drive from midnight to 5 a.m.
- Your license will be suspended if you accumulate eight demerit points (15 for fully licensed drivers)
Stage Two Probationary
- Be at least 16 years old
- Have a learner’s driver’s license for one year
- Pass the basic Alberta Class 5 road test
- You must have your probationary driver’s license for at least two years
- Your license will be suspended at eight demerit points (15 for fully licensed drivers)
- Have zero alcohol level
- You cannot upgrade to a commercial driver’s license
- You cannot act as an accompanying driver for learner drivers
If you’re moving to Alberta from another province, you can apply to have your previous driving history credited. If accepted, you'll be exempt from part or all the GDL program. Check with your local registry to see if the exception applies to you!
Getting license plates in Alberta
You have 90 days to complete the process to acquire your Alberta driver’s license, plates and insurance from the first day you move to Alberta.
If Alberta will be your new home, you will need to take a few steps to obtain the proper documentation for your vehicle. Here's how you make the switch:
Get a request for vehicle inspection form
Before you can get Alberta plates and have your vehicle ownership transferred to your new province of residence, you will need to pass an out-of-province inspection.
Any Alberta Registry office can provide you with a Request for Vehicle Inspection form. Approximately $10 will be charged, and you will need to bring your previous province's registration papers.
Get an out-of-province vehicle inspection
Prior to registering your vehicle, you must have an out-of-province inspection completed. Schedule an inspection at a garage that is authorized to perform out-of-province inspections.
When you register your vehicle in Alberta, you need to present the out-of-province inspection certificate provided by your mechanic. In some cases, your vehicle may require additional mechanical work, so it's a good idea to schedule the inspection as soon as possible. Keep in mind that you have 14 days from the date the inspection certificate is issued to pass the inspection, or else, you will need to start the process again.
Buy Alberta car insurance
In order to register a vehicle in Alberta, you must produce proof of valid Alberta vehicle insurance - a pink card - issued by an Alberta insurance company. If you are pressed for time and need expert advice, an insurance broker can help compare different insurance companies and quotes. The rate you pay for car insurance is affected by your driving history, model of your vehicle, how it is used, and how old you are.
Register your vehicle and get an Alberta driver’s license
To register your vehicle and obtain your new Alberta driver's license, you must visit the Alberta Registry Office. It will cost around $150.
Be sure to bring your pink card, out-of-province vehicle inspection certificate, proof that you own your vehicle (such as a bill of sale), something that is proof of your address in Alberta (telephone or hydro bill, rental agreement or a pay stub with your name on it), your passport, and your driver’s license from your previous province of residence.
Registering an out-of-province vehicle in Alberta
Prior to receiving a licence plate, a motor vehicle from outside of Alberta must pass an out-of-province Inspection in Alberta.
The Government of Alberta may issue an exemption from an inspection if the vehicle's history does not indicate flood, unsafe, salvage, or non-repairable and meets the requirements.
In order to register an imported vehicle from another province or territory, present the vehicle and the following documents to the Alberta Registry within 90 days of purchase:
- Alberta address
- Proof of Alberta insurance
- A Bill of Sale or lease agreement from a factory authorized dealer in the name of the person requesting the exemption
Consequences of driving with an invalid license in Alberta
Tickets & Fines
It’s an offense to drive a vehicle without a valid driver’s license. You can receive a fine of $200 for the first occurrence.
The vehicle you are driving, whether you own it or not, can be seized and impounded for 30 days. You will be in charge of paying for all impound charges and administrative fees.
If you are caught driving a motor vehicle with an invalid driver’s license, you may go to jail. Jail time for this offence is common, so ensure your license is valid!
Insurance pro tip:
Did you know that if you're caught speeding in Alberta, you’ll receive demerit points on your driver’s licence? If you reach a certain amount of demerits, you may have your license suspended.
Getting in a car accident in Alberta with out-of-province plates
Every province has different legal standards and rules regarding driving, licensing and auto insurance.
If you are visiting Alberta and have a valid driver’s license, registration and insurance, your insurance company should cover costs associated with a car accident. You should be aware of what your car insurance policy covers, but in general, the coverage should be the same whether you’re in your own province, or visiting another province.
If you have moved to Alberta, you need to update your documents within 90 days from the first day you arrive in Alberta. If you have failed to do this, your driver’s license, registration and insurance may be invalid, which means, if you’re in an accident, any coverage you may have had with your insurance company could be void.
Need Car Insurance in Alberta? Contact BrokerLink Today!
Although many Canadian insurance companies have locations and write policies across the country, some may only be available locally or in your home province. Getting a policy with a new company may be necessary when you move to Alberta.
At BrokerLink, we make buying insurance easier! We’ll show you the best options available and help you find the right coverage at a great price. Contact your local insurance expert today to get a quote!
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Driving with Out-of-province Plates in Alberta FAQs
How long can you drive in Alberta with out of province plates?
Once you move to Alberta, you have 90 days to change your driver’s license, registration and insurance. Failure to update your information can lead to fines, vehicle seizure and possible jail time, so it’s important to be aware of the 90 day period.
Does car insurance cover out-of-province accidents?
If you are visiting Alberta from another province, your car insurance should cover any accidents you are in. If you are not aware of what is covered under your insurance policy, it’s important to check with your insurance advisor. If you plan on travelling for an extended period of time, let your insurance provider know, as there may be changes to your insurance policy.
How do I pass an out of province inspection in Alberta?
Out of province vehicles must pass an inspection before licence plates are issued in Alberta. You will need to take your vehicle to a certified technician who is licensed by the Vehicle Inspection Program. The technician will either tell you your vehicle has passed inspection or will let you know the repairs needed in order to pass the inspection.