What to do with old licence plates

5 minute read Published on Dec 14, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Stacks of old licence plates

Wondering what to do with an old licence plate? Depending on where you live in Canada, there may be certain rules that you have to follow. Just as BrokerLink can provide insight into the processes of renewing your licence in Ontario or getting a temporary licence plate, we can also offer advice on what to do with old licence plates. Continue reading to learn more.

How to deal with an old licence plate in Canada

No matter where you live in Canada, you must ensure that old licence plates are not only removed from your vehicle but that your provincial ministry of transportation is aware that the plates are no longer in use. Please note that notifying the ministry in your province is critical, whether you have a custom plate or a regular plate find out how much a custom plate is by contacting BrokerLink.

The reason for this is to help prevent fraud, which is one of many safe driving tips. If it somehow ended up on another car, you could be in trouble and perhaps even held liable if you failed to inform the government that you were no longer using the plate in question. Find out more about how to deal with an old licence plate in different Canadian provinces and territories:

British Columbia

Car insurance is regulated by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), which is a Crown corporation, and auto insurance and licence plates go hand-in-hand in BC. According to ICBC, when you cancel your auto insurance policy, including your third-party liability car insurance, you must return the plates to ICBC simultaneously.

However, if your auto insurance policy simply expires, then you are not required to send back the plates. ICBC also stipulates that custom or vanity plates can be reused if the vehicle owner decides to start driving again, so long as they take the necessary steps to re-licence and re-register their vehicle. In contrast, regular licence plates cannot be re-used under any circumstances.

Please keep in mind that even if ICBC does not require you to return your old licence plate to them, doing so is still an option and is strongly recommended to prevent theft.


The Government of Alberta advises motorists to return old licence plates to any registry agent office in the province. These can be returned by mail or in person. That said, returning your old licence plate is not a legal requirement.


According to Saskatchewan’s provincial insurer, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), motorists are required to return any licence plates not in use on a vehicle. They can be returned directly to SGI or to another motor licence issuer. From there, they will be destroyed to prevent identity theft and fraud.


Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), the province’s insurer, encourages all drivers to return old or unused licence plates to them. However, you are not required to do so. The reason MPI recommends this is to avoid having the plate stolen and used on another vehicle.


Returning old licence plates is optional in Ontario. If you prefer to return them, you can do so by bringing them into any ServiceOntario centre. In doing this, a representative at ServiceOntario can terminate the plate, which lets the Ontario government know that the licence plate is no longer being used by you.

For more information on car insurance in Toronto or to find out how much car insurance costs per month in Ontario, reach out to BrokerLink.



The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), which is the official insurer for the province, advises all motorists to remove any unused plates from vehicles and to destroy them to avoid fraud. They also give motorists the option of keeping the unused plates for a period of up to three years in case they decide to register a vehicle that needs a licence plate of the same category. You can learn more about the difference between title and registration by contacting BrokerLink.

It’s worth noting that the SAAQ also states that what happens to a person’s licence plate is their responsibility. Once issued, it remains under the person’s name, which means if it ends up on another vehicle, they could be held liable. That is why they recommend destroying and disposing of old plates.

New Brunswick

If you have old plates in New Brunswick, you only have one option: to return them to a motor vehicle branch as soon as they are no longer in use. This requirement is due to the fact that they do not want to risk fraud or impersonation.

Prince Edward Island

The Ministry of Transportation in Prince Edward Island recommends that drivers return all unused licence plates to the Highway Safety division, where they will be properly disposed of and recycled.

Nova Scotia

Returning an old licence plate in Nova Scotia is not required for most drivers, which means you are free to keep it or dispose of it as you wish. However, you are not allowed to display an old plate on a car unless it is properly registered.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Licence plates in Newfoundland and Labrador are the property of the provincial government. Thus, when unused, they need to be returned to the motor registration division.


In Yukon, licence plates are government property. They do not expire or become decommissioned, thus it is up to each driver to keep old licence plates safe when not affixed to a vehicle.

Northwest Territories

While drivers in the Northwest Territories have the option of returning their licence plate to the territorial government, they are not required to do so.


Since there are no roads in or out of Nunavut, where vehicle travel is generally very restricted. This significantly reduces the risk of theft or fraud. Thus, dealing with an old licence plate is not a major issue in the province.

Contact BrokerLink for more information on dealing with old licence plates

If you want to find out more about what to do with an old licence plate in Canada, reach out to BrokerLink today. We are auto experts, which means we can answer your licence plate, driver’s licence, and auto insurance queries.

When it comes to car insurance, we know how to find the best coverage and rates for our clients. For instance, we can help you find any of the following types of auto insurance coverage:

We can also help you save money on car insurance by shopping around for you and making you aware of how to qualify for certain discounts, such as by buying multiple auto insurance policies. Get in touch today to learn more and request a free car insurance quote.

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