How to Register a Car in Quebec?

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 09 Aug 2023

The iconic Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, a majestic and historic landmark.

After you go through the tumult of buying a car, you have one more step ahead: registering your car in Quebec. Even if you move to La Belle Province from another locale, you must go through this process. 

In this guide, we will break down the car registration process and the legal requirements involved. It will cover the necessary documentation, costs, common mistakes to avoid and frequently asked questions about car registration in Quebec. Let’s get started!

Understanding the Car Registration Process in Quebec

All drivers must register their vehicles with the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) before they can use public roads. Registering your car in Quebec serves as proof of ownership. Also, it provides you with license plates and a registration certificate. 

When it comes to car registration in Quebec, it’s not just a bureaucratic formality. The registration process helps authorities keep track of vehicles, ensuring proper road safety and aiding in the recovery of stolen vehicles. 

Moreover, you need a valid registration certificate to get car insurance, financing or selling your car. Insurance companies typically require proof of ownership before providing coverage. Similarly, when seeking financing options, lenders may request a copy of your registration certificate to ensure the vehicle belongs to you.

However, before you can proceed with the registration process, you must meet SAAQ requirements . These steps check the legitimacy of the registration and protect against fraudulent activities.

First, you will need to provide valid identification documents, such as a driver’s license or passport to confirm your identity.

Second, you must provide proof of legal possession of the vehicle. This can be in the form of a bill of sale or a lease agreement. If the vehicle is a gift or inheritance, you can provide a notarized affidavit. This prevents the registration of stolen vehicles and protects the rights of legitimate vehicle owners.

Vehicle Inspections

Finally, a used vehicle from outside Quebec must pass a safety inspection conducted by an authorized mechanic. If you live in a remote area, you can ask to nominate a mechanic not already on the approved list. CAA Québec charges $100 for this service, although fees may vary in other locations.

This inspection ensures that your car meets the necessary safety standards and is roadworthy. It covers various aspects of the vehicle, including brakes, lights, tires and emissions. By conducting this inspection, the SAAQ aims to ensure that only safe and well-maintained vehicles get registered in Quebec.

The following vehicles must also undergo a mechanical inspection before they can drive on – or return to – public roads:

  • modified vehicles
  • severely damaged and rebuilt vehicles with a technical compliance certificate 
  • vehicles stored or not driven for more than a year
  • vehicles restored to on-road use after off-road use 
  • used minibuses for large families (at least 9 family members)
  • used trucks with glider kit parts on the cab, hood, front axle or chassis
  • other examples that require occasional inspections

Preparing for Car Registration in Quebec

Now that you understand the importance of car registration, let’s look at the steps and documentation for this process.

Before You Go

When you buy from a dealership, the business usually completes the registration before you pick it up. They use the online vehicle registration service SAAQclic-Commerçants to save you time. However, they still need a copy of your driver’s licence. If this doesn’t happen, the dealer will provide you with a temporary registration certificate. In short, this will give you time to go to a service outlet to register the vehicle yourself.

Beforehand, you must pay all any unpaid fine for Highway Safety Code or municipal traffic or parking bylaw offences. So, you need to settle up at the Bureau des infractions et amendes before heading to an SAAQ service outlet. Also, you cannot register a car in Quebec if convicted of a repeat offence for impaired driving or a hit-and-run. 

Whether you buy or move a car to Quebec, authorities recommend that you check to see if you can register it first. If the vehicle doesn’t meet provincial requirements, you can save yourself from a hassle. This could apply to an antique or modified car or one designed to drive on the right-hand side of the road.

Where can you get this type of detail? First, you’ll need the Vehicle Identification Number. The SAAQ suggests turning to AutoCheck, CARFAX, the Consumer Guide Automotive, National Insurance Crime Bureau or the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. Additionally, Transport Canada posts details about which cars you can and cannot import from the United States or Mexico. This includes kit cars, rebuilt models or cars that have been submerged in a flood.

Necessary Documentation for Car Registration

Before heading to the registration office, gather all the required documentation. You’ll need an invoice for the vehicle or a lease contract and a certificate that shows the vehicle’s weight. 

For photo ID, ideally you will show your Quebec driver’s licence. However, if you’ve just moved and don’t have one yet, call the SAAQ at 1-800-361-7620 during office hours. The office operates Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you have yet to turn 18, you must have the Consent of a Person Having Parental Authority filled in by one of your legal guardians. And if you cannot register your car in person, fill in a Power of Attorney form for your representative.

For new cars, bring along a New Vehicle Information Statement and a certificate of origin from the manufacturer. If you bought it from a dealership, you’ll need two forms from the business: Attestation de transaction avec un commerçant and Description du véhicule neuf.

When buying a used car privately, collect these  forms:  Attestation de transaction avec un commerçant (from a dealership only) and the registration certificate signed by the former owner. If a used vehicle comes from another part of Canada or another country, you’ll require a registration certificate issued by its transport ministry to certify ownership. For vehicles arriving from the United States, bring a certificate of title or the salvage certificate.

Further, for used vehicles, you must provide a mechanical inspection certificate proving it is safe to drive. Simply take it to a mechanic at an authorized inspection centre for a thorough examination.

Check it with the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)’s website for an up-to-date list of documentation required. For example, you may need a VD-87 form to confirm a sale between a Quebec resident and a retailer outside Quebec. If you imported a vehicle, deliver the Collection of customs duties form and the Vehicle Import Form from the Canada Border Services Agency. And finally, if you lease, you’ll need the lessor’s authorization to register the vehicle in Quebec.

Costs Associated with Car Registration

When it comes to car registration in Quebec, you have various costs to consider. The registration fees can vary depending on factors such as the type and weight of the vehicle. Typically, the larger and heavier the vehicle, the higher the registration fees.

Fees to register a car in Quebec begin at $9.85, plus $2.50 for a licence plate. If you add a personal licence plate, the fees go up to $272.49 and annual renewals for $37.66. 

Typically, you pay $129 to renew registration for a passenger vehicle that weighs less than 3,000 kilograms. However, when you factor in contributions to insurance and public transit, the amount goes up to $232.74 or $277.74. It all depends if you live close to Montreal or another area serviced by public transit, so you pay your share.

If you drive a luxury vehicle, you pay a surcharge equal to one percent of the car’s value over $40,000. The province defines a luxury vehicle as exceeding that value and weighing more than 3,000 kilograms. The distinction wears off after the car gets more than seven years old.

You also pay extra for large-cylinder capacity vehicles with capacity of 3.95 litres or more and if the model year is 1995 or later. The province exempts vehicles adapted for a person in a wheelchair, a minibus for a large family, taxis and driving school vehicles.

Insurance on your registered car

Insurance fees are another important consideration. In Quebec, you must have car insurance after registering your vehicle. Its cost can vary depending on factors such as your driving history, the type of vehicle and the coverage options you select.

You must have at least $50,000 in civil liability insurance  from a private insurer. If not, your driver’s licence could get suspended and your vehicle could go to the impound lot. Next, you’ll have to pay a fine. You never know when you will get pulled over by the police or have a collision that causes more than $500 in damage. Therefore, you’re better off playing it safe and getting  insured.

On top of your insurance, the province also has fees you pay upon registration and driver’s licence renewal. In 2022 and 2023, the province gave drivers of passenger vehicles and motorcycles a payment holiday from their insurance contributions. You still have to pay licence and administrative fees, plus insurance contributions based on accumulated demerit points.

Step-by-Step Guide to Register a Car in Quebec

Now that you are well-prepared, let’s go through the step-by-step process of registering your car in Quebec. By following these steps, you can complete the registration process smoothly and without any hassle.

Where to Register Your Car

When it comes to registering your car in Quebec, you have a couple of options. You can do some steps online through the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec’s (SAAQ) website. However, for the full transaction, you must visit a Service Centre. Either way, make sure you have all the necessary documentation ready. This will help expedite the process and save you time.

Fortunately, Service Centres are conveniently located throughout Quebec, making it easy for you to find one near your residence. It’s always a good idea to check the office hours before visiting to ensure that you can complete the registration process within their operating hours. Conveniently, you can check for average wait times at specific SAAQ service centres before you go.

How to Fill Out the Registration Form

Once you arrive at the registration office, you will need to complete the registration form. This form will require varied information, so keep all the necessary details handy. You will need to provide your personal information, including your full name, address and contact details. Additionally, you will need to provide the vehicle’s details, such as the make, model, year and identification number (VIN).

If you register a used car, you may also need to provide details about the previous owner. This information helps ensure a smooth transfer of ownership and allows the authorities to keep track of the vehicle’s history. Make sure to double-check all the information you provide for accuracy before submitting the form to avoid any potential issues or delays in the registration process.

What to Do After Submitting Your Registration

After submitting the registration form and paying any applicable fees, you will receive a temporary registration document and license plates. You will get your temporary paper licence plate from the service outlet agent upon registration. If you buy from a dealership, it will issue your paper licence plate. These temporary documents will allow you to legally drive your car while you wait for your permanent registration certificate. 

To drive legally, attach your temporary paper licence plate in the top left corner of the vehicle’s rear window. This ensures that they are securely fastened and visible to law enforcement officials. You should receive your metal licence plate in the mail within 10 to 20 business days.

Once you attach the license plates, you can enjoy the freedom of driving your newly registered car on the roads of Quebec. Expect to receive your permanent registration certificate in the mail within a few weeks. Ideally, keep it in a safe place along with your other important documents related to the car.

The Bottom Line

Registering your car in Quebec helps you comply with the province’s laws and regulations. By following these steps, you can complete the registration process efficiently and enjoy the benefits of driving in Quebec. 

Understanding the steps involved and avoiding common mistakes will help make the registration process smooth and hassle-free. Remember to budget for the associated costs and complete the registration within the required timeframe. Now, it’s time to hit the road with confidence, knowing that your car is officially registered in Quebec!

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications