The Ultimate Guide to Plate Renewal in Ontario

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 18 Jul 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Plate Renewal in Ontario

    When do you need to renew your licence plates in Ontario? These days, you have to make it a priority so you continue to meet this legal requirement. In this ultimate guide, we will cover everything you need to know about plate renewal in Ontario. So let’s get right to it!

    Understanding the Importance of Plate Renewal

    First, the province mandates that you renew your licence plates every two years. Driving with expired plates puts you at risk of a $500 fine. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation takes violations related to plate renewal seriously, so you don’t want this unnecessary financial burden.

    Furthermore, driving with expired plates can impact your car insurance coverage. Insurance companies require valid and up-to-date licence and plates as a condition for coverage. If your plates expire, you may find yourself without insurance protection in the event of a collision. This can leave you financially vulnerable and exposed to potential legal liabilities.

    To avoid these consequences, stay on top of your plate renewal obligations. Make it a priority to renew your plates on time and ensure that your vehicle remains compliant with safety and environmental standards. By doing so, you not only fulfill your legal obligations but also contribute to safer roads and a more sustainable environment.

    Also, when you sell a vehicle, you transfer car ownership, but the licence plates always go with the driver. As a result, you hang onto your plates for your next car or turn them into Service Ontario.

    The Step-by-Step Process of Plate Renewal in Ontario

    Now that you understand the value of plate renewal, let’s walk through the step-by-step process involved in renewing your plates.

    Preparing for Your Plate Renewal

    Up until 2022, the Ministry of Transportation mailed out reminders to renew your licence plates. However, now you can sign up for email or text alerts or just remember to take care of it on every second birthday. You can complete plate renewal up to 180 days before they expire. You can also check online to see if you need to update them or not. Unfortunately, this service doesn’t apply to heavy-duty commerce vehicles, since they also require an emissions test before approval.

    Before embarking on the plate renewal journey, collect all the necessary documents and information. You will need your current vehicle ownership permit number and insurance company name and policy number. 

    Also, get your odometer reading and refresh your memory of your licence plate number so you have both handy. Having all the information up to date and accurate will make the renewal process smoother and faster. 

    Finally, make sure that you have settled any outstanding fines, fees or child support payments. The Province takes this opportunity to catch up with you on these charges and could withhold your licence plate renewal.

    The Renewal Process: A Detailed Walkthrough

    You can renew your plates in several ways, such as visiting a ServiceOntario center or renewing online or via a self-serve kiosk. Each method has its own set of advantages, so choose the one that suits you best.

    If you decide to visit a ServiceOntario centre, friendly and knowledgeable staff will greet you and guide you through the process. They will verify your documents, collect the necessary fees and provide you with your new plates. At this point, you can ask any questions and receive immediate assistance.

    Renewing online is a convenience for those who prefer to complete the process from the comfort of their own homes. You will need to visit the official ServiceOntario website and follow the step-by-step instructions. You will require a valid credit card or debit card for payment. Afterward, you will receive a confirmation email and your new plates will come in the mail.

    Using the self-service kiosk is another quick and easy option. These kiosks are available at select ServiceOntario locations, such as Mississauga, and allow you to complete the renewal process independently. Simply follow the on-screen instructions, insert your documents, make the payment and collect your new plates.

    Regardless of your approach, the renewal process generally involves providing the necessary information and getting a receipt. Naturally, you’ll want to carefully review all the information provided during the renewal to ensure accuracy. Any mistakes or discrepancies should be addressed immediately to avoid any issues in the future.

    Post-Renewal: What to Expect

    After successfully renewing your plates, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your vehicle is legally authorized to be on the road. You no longer receive stickers to put on your plates. Instead, police check by reading your licence plate – sometimes with a digital scanner – to see if you’re up to date. 

    Monitoring your plate renewal dates or signing up for alerts helps you avoid getting pulled over or facing potential penalties. It is a good practice to keep track of all your vehicle-related documents, including insurance, ownership permit and renewal dates. This will ensure that you are always prepared and comply with the law.

    So, make sure to renew your plates on time and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with staying current.

    Costs Associated with Plate Renewal in Ontario

    For the average driver, you pay no fee to renew your licence. However, it does cost $15 to $300 when you buy a car in Ontario. You also have to fork over $59 to replace worn ones after five years. Fees also require $38 for an off-road vehicle permit and plate number and $48 for a trailer’s plate.

    FAQs About Plate Renewal in Ontario

    How much are license plates in Ontario?

    Drivers pay $15 to $300 to get Ontario licence plates then $59 to replace them if they wear out. However, renewing your plates doesn’t cost a dime. If you update your licence at the same time, you must pay $90, but that only happens every five years.

    How to renew your license plate in ontario?

    You can go to a ServiceOntario centre or renew online. Make sure you have the following items handy: licence plate number, odometer reading, vehicle permit number, insurance company and policy number. In person, you get a receipt while you have to print your own after an online transaction.

    What to do with old license plates ontario?

    If you get new licence plates in Ontario or give up your car, you must return the old plates to a Service Ontario centre. The plates go with the driver, if you sell a car in Ontario to someone else.

    Can I remove my license plate sticker in Ontario?

    Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation no longer requires drivers to have valid stickers on their licence plates. Therefore, you can remove expired stickers. Instead, police use digital scanners to read plates and identify drivers who haven’t renewed theirs.

    Do you need a front license plate in Ontario?

    Only Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia require drivers to have a licence plate on the front of a vehicle. This makes it easier for police to read plates on oncoming cars and identify drivers with outstanding legal issues.

    Are license plate covers illegal in Ontario?

    In short, the answer is no. Using licence plate covers in Ontario makes it harder for police and others to read your plate. You can put a frame around your plate, like automotive dealers do, but not obscure the view.

    How to get temporary plates in Ontario?

    You can apply to get temporary licence plates in Ontario to transport it to a garage for a safety inspection. These plates last up to 10 days. If you register a vehicle for the first time, you must pay the fees for vehicle registration and the purchase of licence plates including applicable taxes.

    How much is a trailer plate in Ontario?

    To get a vehicle permit and licence plate for your trailer in Ontario, you pay $48.

    Do trailer plates stay with the trailer in Ontario?

    Since it is legally a separate vehicle, your trailer needs its own licence plate. You only pay $48 for it once and it lasts the life of the trailer.

    How much are personalized license plates in Ontario?

    If you want personalized plates, get ready to pay $310 for one with two to eight letters and/or numbers. If you add a graphic, like a team logo, you can only have up to six characters for $336.40. You can pay with VISA, MasterCard or Interac® Online. 

    Can I repaint my license plate in Ontario?

    Since licence plates legally belong to the Ontario government, you cannot alter them in any way. However, if your plates peel or begin to fade due to faulty manufacturing, you can get a new set within five years of the original issue date. Just take your worn plates to a Service Ontario with your identification, original plate permit (attached to your licence) and your insurance details.

    Can I renew my Ontario plates online?

    Yes, you can update your licence plates within minutes online. To do so, you will need your licence plate number, odometer reading, vehicle permit number, insurance company and policy number. 

    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