Can you Drive a Vehicle Without a Licence Plate?

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licence plates ontario

If you’re in the market for a used car, you may be wondering how you’ll get your used car home.

A vehicle without a licence plate is one that was either never registered or had its registration cancelled by the government. In most cases, this means that the vehicle will not be able to be driven legally on public roads and could even result in your insurance being voided if your insurance provider found out about it after purchasing it.

The answer is no. Legally, you can’t drive a vehicle on public roads in Ontario without having licence plates.

This rule is enforced by Highway Traffic Act. The rules about driving vehicles were first introduced back in 1903 when there was only one province – Ontario – this has changed since then as we now have 10 provinces within Canada including Quebec that all enforce different traffic laws. Interestingly enough, up until 1911, vehicle owners had to provide their own licence plate which was not always easy for them with more restrictions being put into place over time.

What happens if you get pulled over without a licence plate?

If you get pulled over and you don’t have the vehicle registration, it will likely be towed away and impounded. When this happens you’ll have to pay to get the vehicle registered and provide proof of insurance before the vehicle is released from impound. You’ll also face some hefty fees including the towing fee, storage fees, and impound fees before your vehicle is released. You’ll also face traffic fines for driving an unregistered vehicle and if you’re caught driving without insurance you can expect some pretty large fines.

If you’ve just bought a used car and are driving to the local MTO to get the car registered, the officer might allow you to keep driving. This all depends on if you can provide relevant documentation (ie. bill of sale proving you bought the car recently), and your attitude – so don’t be a dick!

How do you get licence plates for your car in Ontario?

In order to get your licence plates you’ll need to go to your local Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) station. This is usually done when you go to register your vehicle. The registration process includes getting your vehicle permit, licence plates, and licence plate sticker. All three of these are required by law to be able to drive your vehicle.

A car’s licence plate is not the property of the vehicle that carries it but of the owner of the vehicle.. When you sell your car,you should take care to remove the plates before giving the car away. Otherwise, someone may find your old set and put them back onto another vehicle illegally – leading to fines for both parties involved!

You can transfer your license plate to a new vehicle if you decide that it’s time for an upgrade. However, these plates now have to be registered at the Ministry of Transportation as applicable on the car of choice. You’ll need to go through the registration process which is required with every type of vehicle purchase and then will receive updated stickers or license expiration dates accordingly.

Here is what you need for the registration process:

  • Driver’s licence or RIN
  • Completed used vehicle package
  • Proof of purchase
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Original vehicle permit from the seller
  • Licence plates – provided you already have licence plates
  • Safety standards certificate to get licence plate sticker

If you do not have licence plates, you’ll need to purchase them from the MTO. They’ll cost you about $59.

What are the rules for licence plates in Ontario?

All vehicle owners must follow these rules for licence plates:

What are the penalties for driving without licence plates in Ontario?

If you’re going to drive in Ontario, make sure your licence plate is up-to-date with a valid sticker! If it isn’t and the infractions are associated with that license plate there will be fines levied. Even if these infractions were not committed by you or anyone who legally can use this licence plate on their vehicle. This law applies to all driver’s licences plates whether they be for regular passenger vehicles or those used as commercial transportation like taxis and buses.

Sometimes when an individual goes to get their sticker, they discover it is being denied because there are unpaid fines that apply to this license plate. This is a new rule that came into effect in May of 2017 for Ontario.

Here are the penalties & their fines:

Drive motor vehicle, no plates$85.00
Drive motor vehicle, fail to display two plates$85.00
Drive motor vehicle, plate improperly displayed$85.00
Fail to remove plates on ceasing to be owner$85.00
Fail to retain plate portion of permit$85.00
Deface plateNo set fine
Alter plateNo set fine
Use defaced plateNo set fine
Permit use of defaced plateNo set fine
Permit use of altered plateNo set fine
Remove plate without authorityNo set fine
Use plate not authorised for vehicle$140.00
Permit use of plate not authorised for vehicle$140.00
Use or permit plate not in accordance with Act$140
Use or permit plate not in accordance with Reg.$140
Confuse identity of plate$85.00
Obstruct plate$85
Dirty plate$85.00
Entire plate not plainly visible$85.00
Obstruct plate, preventing accurate photograph by red light camera system$85.00
Obstruct plate preventing accurate photograph$85.00
Obstruct plate preventing identification by toll system$85.00


How do you drive a car you just bought home?

As soon as you buy a car call your insurance company to let them know that you have a new vehicle to insure. If possible put the bill of sale for this new car under your windshield while your drive it home.

In Ontario, you can temporarily switch your licence plates and insurance to a car that you have purchased without needing the ministry’s approval or notifying your current insurance company. All that is required if certain conditions are met. Here are the conditions:

  • A valid insurance policy
  • The vehicle has passed safety and e-test
  • Vehicle registration signed and dated by the previous owner
  • Completed Used Vehicle Information Package

If the vehicle isn’t safetied or e-tested you will NOT be able to drive it without first going to an MTO outlet to get a temporary sticker.

Can a car sit without plates?

Yes, if the car is parked in your driveway, or private property, it can sit without plates. It’s only illegal to drive a vehicle without licence plates. You won’t be able to park on the street.

Can you have two cars with one license plate?

No, not in Ontario. It’s illegal to operate a car on public roads without it being registered with the government. The car must have a number plate associated with the registration. So, the registration for each car will be linked to a different plate number. Ontario also has the plate-to-owner system, so when you sell a car you can keep the plates and move them to a new car. If you do this, you’ll have to notify the government and you won’t be able to flip them back & forth.

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