The difference between title and registration

12 minute read Published on Jun 25, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

A couple talking to a car agent

When it comes to your car, you've probably heard of two terms: vehicle registration and car title. Is it the same thing? In a nutshell, no. These two documents serve distinct functions, and understanding the distinction is critical when navigating auto insurance regulations and ensuring you're prepared when travelling on the road.

Therefore, if you want to learn more, we are here to assist you, whether you are looking for clarity or to comply with regulations. Keep reading as the team at BrokerLink dissects the difference between title and registration below.

What is a motor vehicle registration?

In Canada, motor vehicle registration is a critical process that ensures your vehicle has been formally acknowledged by the correct government agency, which is usually the provincial or territorial motor vehicle authority. It serves as proof that you, as the vehicle owner, have met the requirements for operating your vehicle on Canadian roads.

In other words, by acquiring your motor vehicle registration, you gain the official record needed to legally drive your vehicle in Canada. It's similar to receiving a certificate confirming your vehicle's eligibility to drive on public roads within the country's rules and regulations.

What is a vehicle title?

A vehicle title, also referred to as a car title or an ownership document, is a legal document that defines the right of ownership to a particular vehicle. It acts as proof of possession, proving that you are the legal owner of the car in question. The title includes essential details about the car, such as the vehicle identification number (VIN), date of sale, weight class, make, model, and, in some cases, mileage.

When purchasing or selling a vehicle, the title is legally assigned from the seller to the buyer. It is critical to keep the vehicle title in a safe place as it is a crucial record for showing ownership and is essential for future uses such as registration, insurance, or selling the vehicle.

Furthermore, a car title serves several functions aside from establishing ownership. It additionally offers details about the vehicle's circumstances. There are various types of titles, each indicating a different aspect of the vehicle's history. For example, a clean title suggests that the car has been thoroughly inspected and was never involved in a collision or sustained significant harm.

In contrast, a salvage title is issued to vehicles that have been declared irrecoverable due to severe harm and are not safe to drive until fixes are completed, and a rebuilt title can be obtained. Lastly, a rebuilt title signifies that a salvaged vehicle went through the required fixes and assessments and is now roadworthy.

Car title vs. registration

The car title is an official record that proves ownership of the motor vehicle. When you buy a car, its prior owner or the entity holding the title, such as a dealership transfers ownership to you. The title includes essential vehicle information such as the VIN, make, model, and year, along with the owner's identity and place of residence. It serves as evidence that you are the legal owner of the vehicle.

On the other hand, car registration is a separate process that entails obtaining official paperwork and a licence to drive on public roads. When you register your car, you'll be given a licence plate or registration number that is unique to your vehicle. This number appears on your licence plate, enabling authorities and other drivers to recognize your car. You will also receive a registration card or label as proof of valid registration. Further, to register your vehicle, you will first need to provide proof of ownership using your car title to do so. All of this information should be stored in the car at all times.

Can you register a car under a different name than on the title?

The name on the car registration should match the name on the car title. When you register a vehicle, you are providing official documentation to the appropriate authorities in order to establish legitimate ownership and determine the person liable for the car. As a result, it is usually expected that the name listed on the registration corresponds to the name on the title.

However, in some cases, registering a vehicle under a different name other than the one on the title may be permitted. Typical examples of these circumstances include if the car has been jointly owned by several people, it may be possible to register it in the name of one of the owners if all of them provide their permission and the required paperwork.

Another possibility is if the motor vehicle is owned by a business or other legal entity, the registration may be in the name of the entity instead of a person's name. This usually entails providing records proving the entity's existence and ownership, such as articles of incorporation or agreements for partnership.

Title precautions when purchasing a used car

Purchasing a used car is a bit different than acquiring one from a dealership. Therefore, it's essential that you take the necessary steps to ensure seamless and legal transactions. Consider the following title-related precautions:

Check the identity and ownership of the seller

Verify that the seller is the actual owner of the automobile and has the legal right to sell it. Request proof of identity, like a driver's license that corresponds to the name on the title. Check the Title

Examine the title document cautiously for any indications of tampering, modifications, or inconsistencies.

Clear Title and Liens

Make sure that the title does not have any debts or restrictions. Liens are legal claims by creditors or loan providers on the vehicle that indicate unpaid bills. Obtain the title with a "clear" status, which suggests that there are no outstanding liabilities.

Title History and Vehicle Reports

To learn more about the vehicle's history, consider obtaining a vehicle history report or conducting a title search. This can reveal crucial information such as previous accidents, ownership history, mileage discrepancies, and so on.

Vehicle Registration

Confirm that the seller's car registration is current. The registration should correspond to the name on the title. Examine the expiration date and any outstanding registration fees or penalties. Furthermore, as proof of purchase, make sure the seller gives you a bill of sale.

How is a motor vehicle title transferred between owners?

The procedure for transferring a motor vehicle title between owners varies slightly depending on provinces and territories, but the following are the general steps that all motorists can expect:

Responsibilities of the seller

a. Fill out the Seller's Section: The seller is responsible for filling out all the required details in the title document's "Seller" or "Transferor" section. This includes providing their name, address, date of purchase, and current mileage on the vehicle.

b. Sign and Date the Title: In order to officially transfer ownership, the seller must sign and date the title document.

Responsibilities of the buyer

a. Fill out the Buyer's Section: The buyer must fill out their information in the title document's "Buyer" or "Transferee" section. Again, this includes their name and address, along with other information.

b. Show Identification and Proof of Insurance: The buyer may be required to show proof of identity such as a driver's license or ID card. Before finishing the transfer of ownership, some regions additionally ask for proof of insurance coverage.

Once these tasks are fulfilled by the seller and buyer, the buyer will need to submit the title transfer and pay any associated fees before receiving the new title. The new title reflects the change in ownership and serves as proof of ownership for the person who bought the car.

How do you register your motor vehicle?

The vehicle registration process can be daunting for first-time vehicle owners. As such, take a look through this step-by-step process detailed below:

1. Gather your documents

Collect the documents that usually need to be submitted for vehicle registration. These could include:

  • Ownership documentation
  • Genuine identification
  • Evidence of insurance
  • Address confirmation

2. Fill out your application

Fill out the details on your local motor vehicle authority's vehicle registration form. This may include the VIN, make, model, mileage details etc.

3. Pay the necessary fees

When submitting your application, you will need to pay a fee. The fee will vary between provinces and territories.

4. Submit the application

Visit your local motor vehicle office in charge of vehicle registration. Present the printed application form, as well as any necessary additional information, such as proof of ownership, identification, insurance, and inspection certifications.

5. Get your licence plates and registration

You are going to get your licence plates or registration stickers once your application has been processed and approved.

Why choose BrokerLink

Understanding the ins and outs of insurance can be difficult, especially when you're already juggling the responsibilities of being a vehicle owner. That's where our BrokerLink team comes in. We are dedicated to making the insurance decision-making process as simple for you as possible. We compare policies using our extensive network of insurance providers to provide you with comprehensive coverage at a low cost.

Our approach is based on providing reliable and effective insurance solutions that are customized to your specific requirements. We want to provide you the peace of mind you require to focus on what is truly important in life. We have you covered whether you need coverage for your car, home, or any other aspect of your life.

Don't be daunted by the complexities of how to register your car or report a car accident. We are here to help you through the entire process and provide the assistance you require. Please contact us if you are unsure or overwhelmed –our goal is to assist you and give you peace of mind.

Contact us

At our core, BrokerLink prioritizes customizing insurance solutions to meet your specific needs. We understand your hectic schedule, which is why we provide flexible ways to connect. We are able to serve you whether you prefer a quick phone call, a convenient email exchange, or a face-to-face meeting at any of our multiple locations across Canada.

We recognize the importance of your time at BrokerLink, which is why we created an easy-to-use online quote tool. You can generate free and competitive insurance estimates in minutes, allowing you to make informed decisions no matter the time of day.

Your convenience is our number one priority; contact us today.

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The difference between title and registration FAQs

Does registering my vehicle mean I own it?

Simply registering your vehicle does not imply that you own it outright. Vehicle registration is the process of filing the required documentation and information to the correct government department, usually, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), to legally operate your car on public roadways.

When you purchase a car, the title is usually assigned to your name in order to show that you are the legal owner of the vehicle. However, registering the car in your name is an additional procedure that ensures you have met the rules and regulations for driving on public roads.

It is essential to note that while registration and ownership are separate notions, they frequently intersect. To register the car in your name, you will usually need to submit proof of ownership, such as a valid title. However, in some cases, such as when leasing a vehicle or registering it on behalf of a business entity, you might be able to register it without being the owner.

Do I need vehicle proof of ownership to insure a car?

Yes, in most cases, proof of ownership is required to insure a car. Before issuing an insurance policy, insurance companies typically require proof that you are the legitimate owner of the vehicle. Depending on the jurisdiction, proof of ownership naturally occurs through the vehicle's title or registration document.

When applying for car insurance, you will almost certainly be asked to provide information about the vehicle, including its make, model, year, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You will also be required to submit supporting documentation proving your ownership of the vehicle.

It is critical to confirm your insurance company's specific requirements for proof of ownership. It is vital to provide accurate and valid proof of ownership in order to obtain adequate insurance coverage for your vehicle.

How do a vehicle title and car registration tie into refinancing your auto loan?

The car title and vehicle registration certificate are crucial prerequisites when refinancing a car loan. If you have a balance to repay on your car, these documents will be required if you decide to refinance. Refinancing a car entails using another vehicle loan to pay off your old loan, which usually comes from an alternate lender. People frequently choose to refinance to secure lower monthly payments, combine borrowing, and guarantee a more stable financial plan that enables them to keep the legal ownership of their vehicles while repaying the loan gradually.

It's worth noting that while renegotiating extends the time frame of existing debts and payments, it also has the potential to provide advantages in the future. However, there are expenses and fees associated with the refinancing technique. The new lender will ask for both the car title and registration to begin the refinancing process, as these papers confirm the car's ownership and act as collateral for the extension of the loan.

Does insurance cover towing after an accident?

If your vehicle is involved in an accident and is deemed unsafe to drive, the only way to proceed is to call a towing company. However, it's crucial to think about possible costs and whether your car insurance plan covers this service. Towing expenses are covered differently depending on the details of your policy.

To find out if your insurance cover for towing after a collision, go over the fine print. Typically, in order for the insurance company to cover the costs of a tow truck, you must have bought collision coverage or all perils insurance coverage. Collision coverage is a kind of optional insurance that helps pay for the costs of repairing or replacing your own vehicle in the event of an accident, regardless of fault. This coverage may include towing services, ensuring that the cost of towing your car after a collision is covered. Similarly, all perils insurance coverage is a comprehensive coverage that protects your vehicle from a variety of risks, such as accidents, theft, vandalism, and more. Towing expenses are frequently included in this broader coverage.

If you have any questions about the protection that's provided by your insurance policy or about towing costs, you should contact the insurance company directly. They can give you accurate information regarding the coverage you have and walk you through the procedure of filing a complaint for towing expenses if needed. Remember, knowing your insurance coverage and comprehending the terms and conditions is critical to ensuring you have sufficient safety and financial support when unexpected events such as accidents occur.

What happens if I don’t report a car accident to my insurance company?

Calling your insurance company after a minor accident or more serious collision can be a stressful experience. However, if you are involved in an accident, it’s essential that you report any damage to your insurance provider and the authorities (in some cases).

So, what happens if you don’t report an accident? Well, there are a couple of consequences that could occur, including fines, demerit points, the suspension of your driving privileges, and criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident.

It's understandable that reporting an accident can be stressful, but it's critical not to put off the process. It is strongly advised to report the accident as soon as possible. However, having to report a car accident in Ontario will differ from that in British Columbia or Alberta, and the exact time limit varies depending on where you live; it's generally recommended to report an accident to the police, your insurance company or a collision centre within 24 hours to ensure adherence to the regulations in place. Reporting the accident as soon as possible will help to facilitate the required processes and records, providing a smoother resolution of the situation.

What are the most common car accidents?

Car insurance Toronto, or from any municipality, regardless of province or territory, is intended to protect motorists from financial liabilities in the event of an accident. However, no matter how safe of a driver you may be, accidents can still happen at any time. Here is a closer look at some of the most common car accidents:

Distracted driving

Whether you’re on your phone, putting on makeup, or eating, distracted driving is one of the most common causes of accidents that can yield significant consequences for yourself and others.

Reduced visibility

Unfavourable weather conditions, including ice, snow, fog, and rain, can not only reduce your visibility on the road, but it can also make the road itself slippery, leading to the inability to stop on time or gain control over your vehicle.

Driving over the speed limit

Although speed limits vary across the country, these limits are intended to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road.

Driving under the influence

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, if convicted, can yield consequences, including increased insurance premiums, fines, or criminal charges that result in jail time.

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