With amazing sites such as Niagara Falls, the CN Tower and Parliament Hill, it’s no wonder so many people come to Ontario. Whether they are coming for a vacation or to permanently live here, people are crossing into the province through our 14 borders daily. If you’re a Canadian resident who’s planning on taking a road trip to this wonderful province, or moving your family here for good, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about driving in Ontario with out-of-province plates.
Visitors vs. New Residents
There is a big difference between moving to this lovely province and just coming for a visit. In most cases, visitors don’t have a lot of extra work to do when it comes to licensing. If you’re moving here for good, there are a few steps you’ll have to take:
If you are here in Ontario as a visitor, as long as you have a valid Canadian driver’s license, license plates and insurance policy, you’re safe! You are allowed to drive here, and you are covered by your existing insurance policy back home.
If you plan on visiting Ontario for an extended period of time, remember to notify your insurance broker in advance. This is so they can make any appropriate policy changes or increase your level of coverage if necessary.
If you are moving to Ontario from another province, your driver’s license, plates and insurance policy will be valid for 30 days, starting on your first day living here. After this grace period, you will require Ontario-based documents in order to continue driving.
How do I get Ontario license plates?
If Ontario is your new home, there are a few steps you need to take to get the proper documentation for your vehicle. You won’t just need new license plates, you’ll need a new driver’s license and insurance as well. Here’s how you go about making that switch:
1. Get an Ontario driver’s license
This is the first step you need to complete. If you are moving from another Canadian province, you can easily switch your license to Ontario. (The next section of this article explains how to get an Ontario driver’s license.)
2. Insure your vehicle
The next step is getting Ontario-based insurance. Insurance requirements vary from province to province, so you’ll need to make sure you’re covered properly.
3. Get a Safety Standards Certificate
All Ontario vehicles must meet a minimum standard of safety. You will not receive license plates without this certificate. There are inspection stations all across Ontario that can certify your vehicle meets safety standards. Just make sure they have a valid licence with the Ministry of Transportation.
4. Get your new license plates
Once you have your new driver’s license, Ontario insurance and the safety standards certificate, you’ll be able to visit any Service Ontario location to get your new licence plates.
How do I get an Ontario driver’s licence?
If you are moving to Ontario from another Canadian province, the United States or another country that has an exchange agreement in place with Ontario, you can easily exchange your licence. All you have to do is visit any Drive Test location with the following:
- An original copy of ID that shows your legal name, date of birth and signature
- Your original, valid out of province or foreign driver’s license
- Any other supporting documents in English or French that show proof of your driving experience
You will also have to complete an application form, take an eye test and pay the applicable fee.
How does the driver’s license system work in Ontario?
In Ontario, licenses are given based on a system called the “Ontario Graduated Drivers Licensing System”. This is a two-step process which is in place to give new drivers more time to practice and gain experience driving. This system takes a minimum of 20 months to complete. While participating in this process, drivers will obtain licenses in the following levels: G1, G2 and G. A “G” class license is your full and final license, and obtaining it equals your completion of the program.
While driving with G1 and G2 class license, you will be subjected to some restrictions while on the road. The main restriction for drivers with a G2-class license is driving with a blood alcohol level of 0 at all times. However, drivers in the G1-class have a much more extensive list of restrictions including:
- Must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver with a minimum of 4 years of experience with a G class license
- Cannot drive between midnight and 5 am
- Cannot drive on any 400 series highway
- Must have a blood alcohol level of 0 while driving
Getting in a car accident in Ontario with out-of-province plates
If you are relocating to Ontario and have an accident within your 30-day grace period, then yes, you are covered under your existing policy. If you are simply here as a visitor, it will depend on your province’s specific insurance regulations and your own personal policy. Before embarking on your journey, make sure to check with your insurance broker to see exactly what your policy includes, and if the coverages are in place across the entire country.
It’s important to note that if you happen to get in an accident while here in Ontario, you must follow the Ontario Traffic Act laws, and not the laws of the province where your vehicle is registered. In Ontario, the law states that you must:
- Stop if you are involved in any sort of accident. If you don't stop, you may be subject to criminal prosecution.
- Call the police if anyone is injured, if the total damage to any or all of the vehicles involved appears to be more than $2,000, or if you suspect that any driver involved is guilty of a Criminal Code offence, like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Move your vehicle to the side of the road and out of traffic when it is safe for you to do so. If your vehicle cannot be driven, then you must turn on your hazard lights or use cones, warning triangles or flares.
What should I know before coming to Ontario?
When moving or travelling to Ontario from your native province, it is extremely important to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the roads in Ontario. Every province has different legal standards and rules regarding driving, licensing and auto insurance.
When it comes to car insurance, Ontario’s laws can be quite different from other places in Canada. While some provinces provide auto insurance through the government, in Ontario insurance is completely separate from the government and is not provided by them. Insurance must be obtained solely by you.
There might also be a difference in what insurance coverage is required. Different provinces have different mandatory minimum coverages. In Ontario, the following coverages are required by law:
- Third Party Liability Coverage: This covers you in the event that someone else is injured or killed, or their property is damaged, as a result of an accident that was your fault.
- Accident Benefits Coverage: This provides coverage for costs associated with injury resulting from an accident.
- Direct Compensation & Property Damage Coverage: This covers you for damages to your vehicle or its contents and for loss of use of your vehicle or its contents if another person was at fault for the accident.
- Uninsured Automobile Coverage: This protects you if you are involved in an accident with a vehicle that is uninsured or that flees the scene before their identity can be determined.
What do you need for registering out of province vehicle in Ontario?
Registering an out of province vehicle in Ontario requires patience and organization. If you know what documentation you need to provide and gather the necessary information in advance, the process of registering your out of province vehicle is likely to be smoother. When registering an out of province car, make sure you have the following:
- Your driver's licence or a copy of your RIN (registrant identification number)
- A completed used vehicle information package (only applicable if you are registering a passenger vehicle, light commercial vehicle, motorcycle or motorhome)
- A copy of proof of purchase (e.g. a receipt or invoice for your car purchase)
- Proof of car insurance (which is mandatory in Canada)
- A vehicle permit and the licence plate portion of the permit (if you have a licence plate for the vehicle)
- Your driver’s licence or another piece of government-issued identification to prove your name and date of birth
Key considerations before moving to Ontario with an out of province car
There are a few key pieces of information that drivers should know before moving to Ontario with an out of province vehicle. First, like every Canadian province and territory, car insurance is mandatory in Ontario. This means that you will need to purchase an auto insurance policy if you don’t already have one, and that policy must meet the minimum requirements set by the province (e.g. a minimum of $200,000 in third party liability coverage).
Beyond car insurance, you must also hold a valid Ontario driver’s licence, which means the first step to registering your out of province car is to switch over your licence.
Further, the country you are travelling from can also be important. For example, if you are driving into Ontario from the United States, then your U.S. driver’s licence, car insurance, and vehicle registration should be valid during your trip. However, if you are visiting from another country, especially one where neither English nor French is the official language, then the rules might be a little bit different. If this scenario applies to you, we recommend obtaining an International Driving Permit before your trip.
Need car insurance in Ontario? You’ve come to the right place!
While many insurance companies across Canada have locations and write policies for the whole country, some are only local or available in your native province. When you move to Ontario, you may be forced to get a policy with a completely new company.
The process of getting insurance can be difficult. That is why we recommend going with a BrokerLink broker. Here at BrokerLink, we do the tough and laborious work for you. We will compare all of your options for you to not only find you the best price, but also the best policy tailored to your specific wants and needs.
To speak with a BrokerLink broker today, call us at any of our locations.
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How long is an out-of-province license plate valid in Ontario?
If you are moving to Ontario, your out-of-province plates are valid for 30 days.
If I am visiting Ontario, is a license from a different province valid?
Yes, just make sure you review Ontario driving laws before your visit.
Do I need a Safety Standards Certificate to drive in Ontario?
If you are a resident, yes.
For more FAQs, visit the BrokerLink FAQs page.