How to register your car in Ontario

13 minute read Published on Oct 9, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

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Are you wondering how to register your car in Ontario? You’ve come to the right place. If you want to drive a passenger vehicle in Ontario, it legally must be registered with the province. To learn more about how the process of car registration works, keep reading.

Vehicle registration

What is vehicle registration? Car registration in Ontario has three main components: a vehicle permit (a green piece of paper), a licence plate, and a sticker. When you register your car with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, you will be given these three items. Together, they make up your vehicle registration. It is important to keep these with you at all times when driving, as you will need to show this to the police if you are ever pulled over on the road. You will also need the permit paper in the event that you sell the vehicle in the future. Please note that there is a difference between title and registration in Ontario. Title refers to the person who owns the vehicle, while registration means that the vehicle is registered with the relevant governing body in the province and can be legally driven on the road:

New or used vehicle registration

The car registration process varies based on whether the vehicle you are registering is a new car or a used car. The new car registration process is as follows: When you buy a vehicle from a car dealership in Ontario, the dealership representative will take care of registration for you. They will do everything from providing you with the vehicle registration paperwork, a new licence plate (if applicable), and a plate sticker. This way, from the moment you drive off the lot in your new car, it will be registered. Please note that some car dealerships charge a small fee for this service.

In contrast, the process for registering a used vehicle might look a little bit different, depending on where you purchase it from. If you are buying a used car from a dealership, the dealership might handle everything from you, just as they would if you were buying a new car. However, if you are purchasing a used car from an independent buyer, you will need to complete the process yourself, and you will need to do so within six days of purchasing the car. Continue reading for further insight into the process of registering a car yourself in Ontario.

Why is vehicle registration important?

Vehicle registration is important for a number of reasons. First, it consists of three key components: a vehicle permit number, an Ontario licence plate, and a licence plate sticker. Together, these elements not only prove that your car is legally registered but they also allow your vehicle to be easily identified. There are several reasons that vehicle registration is important in Ontario. First, it serves as a form of identification for law enforcement officers. That is why, if you are ever pulled over, one of the first documents that a police officer will ask for is your registration.

Second, your vehicle registration serves as proof of ownership, in the event that you get into an accident and need to retrieve your vehicle. It can also be used as evidence for proof of tax payments. Further, the government typically uses vehicle registration fees toward the funding of other government-run programs.

Finally, an insurance broker will ask for your vehicle registration information when you purchase car insurance in Ontario. To find out what documents you need for car insurance, contact BrokerLink.

When do you need to register a new or used car in Ontario?

Registering your car in Ontario is a must, whether it is new or used. However, there are a few rules to be aware of in terms of the timing of registration. When buying a new car, chances are, it’s already been registered by the dealership. If it hasn’t, the dealership can still probably do it for you. In fact, this is becoming increasingly common, especially since March 2022, when Ontario started allowing over 7,000 car dealerships to offer registration directly to their customers. Before buying a new car, ask if your dealership offers this service. Alternatively, if you’re buying a used vehicle, the process might be a little bit different, especially if you’re purchasing the car from an independent seller. In this case, you may have to register the vehicle on your own, and it is important to note that you will have just six days to do so. That’s right, the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario stipulates that all vehicles must be registered within six days of purchase. Thus, if the dealership did not register the vehicle for you, you will need to visit a ServiceOntario centre within less than a week. Please note that there is a key difference between title and registration, so even if an independent seller transfers ownership of a used car to you, you will still need to register it in your name. Further, if you recently moved to Ontario from another Canadian province or territory, you will have exactly 30 days from the date that you arrived to register your vehicle with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, as well as obtain a new licence plate and an Ontario driver’s licence.

A step-by-step guide to car registration in Ontario

Follow the steps below for registering a vehicle in Ontario:

1. Prepare the documents needed to register your car in Ontario

Whether you plan to register your motor vehicle online or in person, you will need to have the following documents and information ready:

  • A valid Ontario driver’s licence (if you don’t already have one, your first step will be obtaining one)
  • A completed used vehicle information package
  • Proof of purchase, e.g. a receipt or bill of sale
  • Proof of car insurance from an insurance company that operates in Ontario
  • The original vehicle permit from the seller with the transfer portion completed
  • The licence plate portion of the permit, if you have the licence plates already

If you are registering a leased vehicle, you may also need to provide:

  • A copy of the lease agreement or invoice
  • A letter from the leasing company with the RIN* and VIN or a letter from the leasing company authorizing the vehicle to be registered in Ontario (if you are attempting to register a leased vehicle from out-of-province)

*Please note that RIN stands for registrant identification number, which is a 9-digit number that essentially serves as a vehicle permit number. It is unique to your vehicle and issued to businesses or corporations by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Meanwhile, a VIN is a vehicle identification number, and all passenger vehicles used for personal use have one.

Further, if you are attempting to register a vehicle from outside Canada, you will need to provide the forms and documents listed above, along with the customs clearance Vehicle Import Form 1, available on the Canada Border Service Agency website. On this form, you will need to declare your vehicle in the list of imported goods.

2. Budget for the cost of vehicle registration in Ontario

It costs money to register your vehicle in Ontario. The price you must pay depends on where in the province you live. Typically, you will need to pay the following to register your vehicle:

  • $120 for one year or $240 for two years in Southern Ontario
  • $60 for one year or $120 for two years in Northern Ontario
  • $42 for one year in Southern Ontario and $21 for one year in Northern Ontario for motorcycle registration

Please note that off-road vehicles, trailers, motorized snow vehicles, and commercial vehicles may have different registration fees.

3. Purchase a car insurance plan if you haven’t already

Car insurance is mandatory everywhere in Canada, including in Ontario, which means you will need to purchase an auto insurance policy in order to register your vehicle with the province. More specifically, you will need to purchase a policy that meets the minimum coverage requirements in the province. This means that it must contain:

When purchasing a car insurance policy anywhere in Ontario, you should be prepared to provide a full driver’s abstract (a record of your driving history), in addition to a copy of your Ontario driver’s licence and information about anyone else that may be driving your vehicle. Please note that driving without insurance is illegal, and if you choose to drive without purchasing adequate auto insurance, you could face the following repercussions:

  • A fine of $5,000 to $25,000 for a first offence
  • A fine of $10,000 to $50,000 for a second offence
  • Your Ontario driver’s licence being suspended for anywhere from 30 to 365 days

Car insurance can be purchased directly from an insurance agent or via an insurance broker. There are many benefits of an insurance broker, which can be discussed by contacting BrokerLink.


4. Register your car with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and receive your licence plate

Step four is the fun part. Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary documents, budgeted for the cost of car registration, and purchased a car insurance policy, it's time to officially register your vehicle! This can be done at the local car dealership where you purchased your vehicle or at a ServiceOntario centre near you. At the time of registration, you will receive a new licence plate if necessary, along with your permit paper and sticker. You will also pay any applicable fees, which can be done via Visa, Mastercard, debit, cash, or certified cheque. Then once your vehicle is registered and fit for the road, you are safe to take your new or new to you vehicle for a cruise!

Registering a business vehicle

We’ve talked about the process of insuring a new vehicle and a used vehicle in Ontario, but what about insuring a business vehicle? To register a business vehicle, i.e. a car that is used for commercial purposes, you will need to obtain a 9-digit registrant identification number (RIN) from a ServiceOntario centre.

From there, you will need to provide information and proof of your business, including proof of your business’s address and a business identification document.

Examples of documents you could provide to show this include a notarized letter of authorization from the business owner, a utility bill, a pink slip, or an article of amendment.

Temporary permit for unregistered vehicles

There are certain times when you are allowed to drive an unregistered vehicle in Ontario. Please note that just as car insurance in Toronto is required of all full-time residents, so too is vehicle registration. However, if you are visiting Ontario and only intend to drive a car temporarily, you are exempted from this registration requirement. That said, you need to apply for a special permit in order to be exempted.

These special temporary permits may be issued to foreign drivers for a period of up to 10 days. During these 10 days, the driver is legally allowed to drive an unregistered car in the province.

The two ways of obtaining a special permit are as follows:


Online permits can be issued to motorists who have already purchased a previous vehicle permit in person. At the time that you wish to purchase a special permit online, you will need to show proof of your existing vehicle permit and your car insurance policy.

In person

Special permits can also be obtained by visiting a ServiceOntario centre near you. You will need to provide a copy of your existing vehicle permit with a safety standards certificate to apply. You will also need to show proof of your valid insurance policy, as well as personal identification and a completed application form.

Please note that a copy of your insurance will need to be shown for each vehicle you want to obtain a special permit for, so if you have multiple auto insurance policies, be sure to have a copy of each with you.

The fees for obtaining a special permit in Ontario vary depending on the type of car you drive. For a passenger car or commercial vehicle under 4,500 kilograms, you can expect to pay $23,50. For a commercial vehicle over 4,500 kilograms without a trailer, the fee is $116.25, and for a commercial vehicle over 4,500 kilograms with a trailer, the fee is $205.f

What to do if you lose your vehicle registration

We all lose things from time to time. Thankfully, losing your vehicle registration is far from the end of the world. In fact, you can easily get a replacement from a ServiceOntario centre. However, if you suspect that someone intentionally stole your registration, then your best bet is to contact the police.

Filing a car insurance claim after registering your car

If you are involved in an accident, whether your car is registered or you’re driving an unregistered car using a special permit, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company. The type of accident you got into will determine what type of claim you need to file. Some of the most common types of insurance claims include:

If you need help filing a claim with your provider, contact BrokerLink. We can explain how the claims process works, as well as ensure you're getting the most competitive rate for your policy. These are just a few benefits of an insurance broker.

Get in touch with BrokerLink for more information on how to register your car in Ontario

Registering a vehicle in Ontario can be complicated. Thankfully, BrokerLink is here to help make the process just a little bit easier. We are licenced insurance brokers who know the ins and outs of the automotive industry in Ontario. Our insurance advisors are happy to provide information on everything from registering a vehicle and renewing an Ontario licence plate to finding comprehensive car insurance coverage. Whether you’re looking for Toronto car insurance or Ottawa car insurance, a BrokerLink insurance advisor can help you find it. We have matched motorists across Ontario with quality coverage that doesn’t break the bank. From basic policies consisting of third party liability, uninsured automobile coverage, and more to extensive policies featuring collision, comprehensive, and accident forgiveness coverage, your BrokerLink insurance advisor will work hard to find a policy that’s right for you.

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Ontario vehicle registration FAQs

How do I change the address on my Ontario car registration?

Changing the address on your vehicle registration is easier than you might think. Given how often people move, the government makes it easy by allowing motorists to change their address online using the ServiceOntario website. It is worth noting that there is no fee for changing your address after registration, but you are legally required to do so if you move. Specifically, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation requires you to do so within six days of changing your address.

What is a vehicle permit in Ontario?

A vehicle permit is proof that you have registered your vehicle with the province. As such, you must have it with you at all times while driving. Many drivers choose to keep it in the glove compartment.

What is a VIN or RIN?

VIN stands for vehicle identification number and RIN stands for registrant identification number. VINs can usually be found on the dashboard of your car, inside the windshield on the driver’s side. This is made up of a bunch of letters and numbers that identify your vehicle and its year, make and specifications; every vehicle has one and it is assigned when the vehicle is manufactured. Meanwhile, a RIN is a unique 9-digit number issued by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, most often for cars registered by businesses.

I lost my Ontario car registration. Can I replace it?

Yes. If you lose your Ontario car registration or it is stolen or damaged, you can replace it. In fact, obtaining a replacement is relatively simple. All you have to do is visit the nearest Service Ontario location to you. Please note that if you suspect your vehicle registration was stolen, it is recommended that you report it to the police.

I am moving to Ontario from another province in Canada. How do I register my vehicle?

If you are moving to Ontario permanently from another Canadian province, or even another country, you are legally required to register your vehicle. Registering an out-of-province vehicle is a similar process to registering an in-province vehicle. However, there are a few extra documents you may need to provide, including our vehicle registration and title papers from your previous province as well as a Safety Standards Certificate.

Do I need to buy car insurance to register my vehicle?

Yes, car insurance is legally required and you will need to show proof of a valid auto insurance policy before you can register your car with the Ministry of Transportation. Car insurance can be purchased through an insurance company or via an insurance broker. Your policy must comply with Ontario’s minimum coverage requirements, which means it must contain no less than $200,000 in third party liability coverage, in addition to uninsured automobile coverage, accident benefits coverage, and direct compensation - property damage coverage.

How can I save money on car insurance in Ontario?

You can lower car insurance premiums by contacting an insurance broker. Insurance brokers have all kinds of expert-approved tips to help you save money on Ontario car insurance. For instance, a broker can inform you about the cost benefits of insurance bundling, choosing yearly over monthly insurance payment schedules, selecting a higher deductible, as well as discuss the many car insurance discounts you might be eligible for, such as winter tire discounts, safe driver discounts, retiree discounts, and more.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.