Vehicle registration plates of Ontario
The Canadian province of Ontario first required its residents to register their motor vehicles and display licence plates in 1903. Plates are currently issued by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO).
The location of plates and renewal stickers is specified by the Highway Traffic Act (Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8) and Regulation 628 under the Act (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 628: VEHICLE PERMITS).
- 1 "Loyal she began, loyal she remains"
- 2 Passenger plates 1903 to present
- 3 Commercial Plates 1980 to present
- 4 Farm plates
- 5 Other non-passenger plates
- 6 Personalized licence plate
- 7 Manufacturing
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
"Loyal she began, loyal she remains"
The symbol of a crown, representing the Crown of Canada, has appeared on almost all Ontario licence plates since 1937, when it was first used to commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Exceptions include the 1951 plates, and farm series plates issued in the 1980s and 1990s. Toronto politician and Orange Order leader Leslie Saunders led protests against a proposal to remove the crown in 1948, a decision the government overturned.
Passenger plates 1903 to present
In 1956, states of the United States and provinces in Canada came to an agreement with the Automobile Manufacturers Association that standardized the size for licence plates for vehicles, except those for motorcycles, at six inches in height by twelve inches in width, with standardized mounting holes. The 1955 (dated 1956) issue was the first Ontario licence plate that complied with these standards
All Ontario licence plates issued since 1973 are still valid for display today, provided they have been continuously registered.
Serial numbers reserved for government officials
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2010)|
|Serial(s)||Political Office of Holder(s)||Level of Government|
|CAN-001||Prime Minister of Canada||Federal|
|CAN-002 to CAN-999||Federal Cabinet Ministers||Federal|
|SEN-001 to SEN-999||Members of the Senate||Federal|
|MHC-001 to MHC-999||Members of the House of Commons||Federal|
|FCJ-001 to FCJ-999||Federal Court Judges||Federal|
|FDA-001 to FDZ-999||Federally Owned Vehicles||Federal|
|ONT-001||Premier of Ontario||Provincial|
|ONT-002 to ONT-999||Provincial Cabinet Ministers||Provincial|
|MPP-001 to MPP-999||Members of Provincial Parliament||Provincial|
|SCO-001 to SCO-999||Ontario Superior Court of Justice||Provincial|
|PJO-001 to PJO-999||Ontario Provincial Judges||Provincial|
Green vehicle plates 2010 to present
|Image||First issued||Description||Slogan||Serial Format||Serials issued||Notes|
|2010||Green on white with graphic trillium separator||Green Vehicle (English)
Véhicule écologique (French)
|GVAB 123 (English)
VEAB 123 (French)
|GVAA 001 to present (English)
VEAA 001 to present (French)
|plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles, which allows drivers to use HOV lanes on 400-series highways in Ontario with only one person until June 30, 2016.|
Vehicles more than 30 years old and substantially unchanged since manufacture may qualify for a "Historic" registration.
Annual fees are much lower ($18 vs $108 for a passenger car in 2015) but historic vehicles may not be used as conventional transportation. They legally may only be driven to and from events and parades where the vehicle is on display, to garages for maintenance, etc. Annual renewal stickers are affixed to the rear plate, as with passenger vehicles.
Historic plates are not to be confused with year-of-manufacture plates.
Commercial Plates 1980 to present
Unlike passenger cars, plate validation stickers are placed on the front plate, instead of the rear.
Ontario vehicles registered in the International Registration Plan receive special commercial plates with "PRP" written vertically on the left. As with other commercial plates, validation stickers are placed on the front plate. All pickup trucks are legally considered commercial vehicles, and thus require commercial plates. However, if used strictly as a passenger vehicle ("personal-use vehicle"), a truck may be exempt from some conditions imposed on commercial vehicles, indicated by a white or red "PERSONAL USE ONLY" sticker affixed in the top left corner of the front plate.
|Image||First issued||Description||Slogan||Serial Format||Serials issued||Notes|
|1980||black on white with embossed crown separator||None||AB1 234||AA0 001 to YZ9 999||Also used for non-passenger personal vehicles (i.e. pick-up trucks, panel vans)|
|1995||black on reflective white with screened crown separator||Yours to Discover||AB1 234||ZA0 001 to ZZ9 999||Screened slogan added, frame removed, reflective background, province and crown now screened.|
|black on reflective white with screened crown separator||Yours to Discover (English)
Tant à Découvrir (French)
|234 1AB||001 0AA to 999 9ZZ||Serial format changed.|
|2011||black on reflective white with screened crown separator||Yours to Discover (English)
Tant à Découvrir (French)
|AB 12345||AA 10000 to present||Serial format changed. On commercial vehicles, license plate stickers are affixed in the top right of the front plate, as shown in the photo. The top left corner may be used for other stickers relating to vehicle use or taxation (ie: government exemption).|
|black on reflective white with screened crown separator
|Yours to Discover (English)||Used on vehicles taking part in the International Registration Plan (IRP)|
Vehicles over 3000 kg owned by farmers and used for farm-related purposes, such as the transportation of farm products, working the soil and buildings maintenance, may qualify for a farm plate. Farm-plated trucks and towed trailers may also be used by a farmer for personal transportation.
To qualify, a farmer must meet a series of criteria, including membership in farming organisations and derive a minimum amount of income from farming. Fees for farm plates are substantially lower than for passenger or commercial plates. The Highway Traffic Act also exempts farm vehicles from several requirements imposed on commercial vehicles.
Farm plates are black on white, with a black crown separator, in a pattern similar to commercial plates. They have the word "FARM" written vertically on the left of the plate. Validation stickers are the same as for other vehicles, and are affixed to the front plate, as with commercial plates.
Other non-passenger plates
|Image||First issued||Description||Slogan||Serial format||Notes|
|1994||White on reflective red with crown separator.||Yours to Discover||123-CDx - diplomat
123-CCx - consular
Ontario plates do not bear indications of the mission. Low numbers assigned to heads of missions (ie: ambassadors).
|black on yellow background, with crown separator.||Yours to discover||Dxx-123||Removable service plate. Before 2007 also used by vehicle dealers. See below.|
|2007||Red stamped identification on a white reflective background. Screened in black: "DEALER" written vertically on the left, crown separator, "ONTARIO" across the top and "Yours to discover".||Yours to discover||DLx-123||Removable plate restricted to car dealers. Introduced in 2007 to differentiate dealer's inventory from vehicles being serviced. See below. Issued singly, to be displayed at the back of the vehicle.|
|2004||printed on security paper with barcode||10 Day Temporary Permit/Permis Provisoire de Dix Jours||A-123456||temporary use only, placed on dashboard at windshield.|
All trailers in Ontario are considered separate vehicles and must have a permit and be plated. New owners of a trailer must register with MTO within six days of purchase. They are then issued with a permit and a plate. Trailer plates are not renewed annually, but may be replaced if lost, damaged or stolen. Plates are affixed to the rear of the trailer. There is no front plate.
All trailers, whether used by commercial operators or others, use a same model plate. Plates are blue on white with crown separator, in a pattern and colour similar to that of passenger vehicles, with the word "TRAILER" written vertically on the left of the plate. However, they do not follow the same numbering system as other vehicles.
General registration licence plates
In Ontario, motor vehicle dealers licensed under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act use a single portable plate with the word "DEALER" on the left side and red alpha-numeric characters on a white background. It is for exclusive use by motor vehicle dealers only on motor vehicles owned as part of the dealer's inventory of vehicles for sale. It may also be used for private use vehicles that are owned as part of the dealer's inventory of vehicles for sale.
Service providers, including anyone who repairs, customizes, modifies, manufactures or transports motor vehicles or trailers use yellow and black DLR series plates (Dealer and Service Plate).
A service plate may be used:
- on a trailer or motor vehicle other than a motorcycle or motor-assisted bicycle for purposes related to the repair, road testing, customization or modification of the vehicle, if the vehicle is in the possession of the person to whom the service plate is issued, or
- for the purpose of transporting the vehicle by a person engaged in the business of transporting vehicles, or
- for purposes related to the manufacturing or sale of a trailer, or
- for the purpose of towing the vehicle by a person engaged in the business of transporting vehicles, or
- to tow a vehicle to a location where its load will be removed or to an impound facility.
Private use of motor vehicles or trailers with a service plate is not permitted.
Personalized licence plate
Along with regular series plates, the province also offers personalized plates for passenger and commercial vehicles. Personalized licence plate message may contain almost any combination of letters and numbers from two to eight characters. The plates can also include one of 60 different graphics, and two to six characters. Available graphics have changed over the years, with some becoming available, while others have been withdrawn or modified. Owners selecting a graphic but no custom message are generally assigned a registration with a 12XY34 pattern, where the XY is a code indicating the design (ie: LN and LM = Loon, CF = Canadian Flag, etc.).
The province reserves the right to refuse or withdraw plates for a variety of reasons, including:
- Sexual messages
- Abusive, obscene language and derogatory slang
- Promotion or denunciation of religion and religious figures
- Promotion of use of drugs or alcohol
- Messages relating to politics, political figures, negative statements on institutions and persons, public personalities, or police badge numbers
- Advocating or promoting violence or crime
- Any discriminatory statement
- Ambiguous or confusing numbers, or which may be mistaken for another existing plate (about 1 in 3 rejections)
- Messages which may infringe on copyright and intellectual property
While criteria have existed since the introduction of personalized plates, accusations of excessive zeal led the McGuinty government to set up a review committee in August 2008. The eight-member committee meets weekly to review submissions. In the first half of 2013, it had rejected 3% of requests. Plates have also been withdrawn after issue.
The ownership of plates with graphic elements associated with particular groups, such as veterans or firefighters, may be restricted and require proof of eligibility.
Personalized plates with two to five characters are also available for motorcycles.
Plates with graphics are also available. The variety of graphics includes popular Ontario sports teams, such as the Ottawa Senators.
Ontario Veteran plate. Applicants must confirm their eligibility through the Royal Canadian Legion. Numbers are assigned in 1V2345 format if no personalized message selected.
Some money from the sale of the Yellow Ribbon plates such as this one is donated by the province to the Canadian Forces Personnel Assistance Fund to assist Canadian military veterans. The message here is not customized and so the registration has been assigned. The "yellow ribbon" design is indicated by the "YR" code.
Personalized plate bearing the image of the Franco-Ontarian flag ("FL" code). The marketing legend reads "Tant à découvrir", in French.
Personalized plate bearing the image of the Franco-Ontarian flag. Uncommonly for this pattern, the marketing legend is in English.
Since 1991, all Ontario plates have been manufactured for the MTO by Trilcor Industries, owned by the province's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario.
In 2012, reports began to appear of plates deteriorating earlier than otherwise expected. The reflective layers detached themselves from the metal plate, making the plate unreadable. Approximately 1% of license plates issued have this defect. The defect has appeared in both front and rear plates. Trilcor Industries and the MTO offer a five-year warranty on plates and will replace the defective plates at no cost. Plate replacement for other reasons (theft, damage, wear, etc.) is done at a cost.
Conventional plates can be replaced "over-the-counter" at a license office, but the complete process for personalized plates takes over six months.
Driving with an illegible plate is an offence punishable by fine, under the Highway Traffic Act.
Investigation into causes
In 2015, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services hired Canada's National Research Council to identify the root cause of license plate de-lamination. The NRC's report indicated that the reflective material adhered poorly to the aluminium plates, and that embossing process stressed the materials to the point that the reflective layer would puncture and de-laminate. At that point, water and other contaminants could slip between the layers. Also, road de-icing materials contributed to the de-lamination. The report found that this problem was present in samples from all types of plates, except for motorcycle plates.
The report recommended that Trilcor work with its supplier of laminating layer to resolve the problem, and indicated that a thicker layer of material would likely perform better.
In 2016, an increase in the rate of defective plates combined with an increase in the number of registered vehicles led to the Ontario Ministry of Transport unable to keep up with demand for plates. It placed an order for 100,000 units from the Waldale Irwin Holdson Group, the largest license plate manufacturer in North America. Plates are produced by the Waldale Manufacturing facility in Amherst, Nova Scotia.
- Leslie Howard Saunders. An Orangeman in public life: the memoirs of Leslie Howard Saunders. Britannia Printers, 1980 pg. 97
- "Green license plates". Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
- "Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER H.8, s7". eLaws. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- "Fees for other types of vehicles". Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- "Vehicles must be 30 years old for historic plate designation". wheels.ca. Toronto Star Newspapers and Metroland news. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- "Is my pickup truck a commercial motor vehicle and does it need a CVOR?". Ministry of Transport of Ontario. QUEEN'S PRINTER FOR ONTARIO. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
- "Register a farm vehicle (permit, licence plate and sticker)". Ministry of Transport of Ontario. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- Used for example by Palestine or Taiwan, which has a trade office but is not officially recognized by the Canadian Government
- "Dealer plates and Service plates - public information package" (PDF). Hamilton Police. Hamilton Police. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- "Driver's Handbook". Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- "Frequently Asked Questions about Ontario Dealer Plates". ucda.org. The Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- "Choose a licence plate graphic". Service Ontario. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- "Choose an appropriate personalized message". Service Ontario. Queen's printer for Ontario. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- Ellison, Marc (2 August 2013). "0UTLAW3D: The vanity licence plates the Ontario government won't let you see". The Toronto Star. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- Laroque, Corey (10 May 2011). "Government revokes driver's 'WTF' plate". The Toronto Sun. Sun Media. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- Leslie, Keith (13 November 2009). "Licence plates to honour troops called 'offensive gimmick'". The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
- "Treatment Programs;Trilcor Industries". Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- "First look at where Ontario inmates make blankets, licence plates". CTV News London. CTV Television Network. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- Warren, May (22 January 2015). "Peeling licence plates a problem across Ontario". Waterloo Region Record. Metroland News. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- "How can I replace a lost, stolen, or damaged licence plate or personalized licence plate?". Service Ontario. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- "Highway Traffic Act (Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8)". ontario.ca. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- Howorun, Christina (22 September 2016). "Thousands of Ontario licence plates deemed defective". Rogers Digital Media. City News. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- "About us". Waldale Irwin Hodson Group. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- "Ontario special orders licence plates to meet high demand". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 18 January 2017.