Vehicle Registration Plates of Canada in 2024

In Canada, license plates are issued by provinces for ID. They go on vehicles. Each province has unique plate designs and slogans. For example, Northwest Territories plates look like polar bears. Alberta plates say “Wild Rose Country.”

BC, Manitoba, and Ontario need front and rear plates. Other places only need rear plates. Drivers can get personalized “vanity plates” in many provinces.

Some provinces offer special plates for disabled drivers. These have a symbol for accessibility and parking perks. The international code for Canadian plates is CDN.

Designs and serial formats

License plate serials in Canadian provinces and Yukon follow specific formats. They include a mix of letters and numbers. To prevent mix-ups, some letters like I, O, Q, and U are left out. British Columbia also skips Y and Z. Northwest Territories and Nunavut use all numbers.

Jurisdictions often distinguish their plates with unique color schemes and logos. Ontario’s plates show a crown graphic from 1937. Yukon’s display a gold prospector graphic since 1952. Plates from the Northwest Territories take a polar bear shape from 1970. They follow standard mounting guidelines.

In many places, the plate has the serial number stamped on it. But in Nunavut, the serial is printed on the plate. The plate may also show the jurisdiction’s name and vehicle class. These details can be printed or stamped on the plate.

In 1956, they set the size for vehicle license plates. It’s 150 mm by 300 mm, with standard mounting holes.Variations may occur across jurisdictions. Smaller plates are used for motorcycles, mopeds, and certain trailers and equipment.

Showing current registration on plates

In the past, Canadian license plates changed every year. Nowadays, they send stickers every year or two for registration.

Outdated plates catch cops’ eyes. Renewal shows compliance, owner’s responsibility. Delinquent stickers hint at problems: theft, inspections, unpaid tickets. Some places required frequent plate changes, but costs halt that.

Validation stickers are typically placed on one corner of the plate, indicating the expiration month or year. Some jurisdictions use windshield decals. Colors often change annually for easy police detection. Quebec stopped issuing plate stickers in 1992, and Saskatchewan followed suit in 2012. British Columbia ceased insurance decals in 2022.

Most validation stickers have serial numbers or plate numbers to prevent fraud. Some places like Alberta, British Columbia, and others ditched stickers. They now use automated systems to catch expired or stolen cars.. However, owners still need the registration certificate as proof of valid registration.

Temporary permits

In Ontario, you get 10-day permits for used cars. If the vehicle was ‘Fit,’ you can have two permits yearly. Unsafe vehicles can’t get temporary permits. If a car fails emissions, you may get four 10-day permits. Classic cars use paper temporary plates.

Alberta skips temporary permits, issuing plates on registration day.

In British Columbia, you get 15-day permits for in-province cars at $60. These permits include insurance from Autoplan brokers. For out-of-province vehicles, ICBC offers temporary insurance.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan follow similar processes.

Life cycle

In Canada, owners keep license plates, not vehicles. This lets you switch plates between cars, saving money. So, you might see a new car with old plates. Older cars may have new plates if none were transferred.

Newfoundland and Labrador, however, operate differently, as plates usually stay with the vehicle, with registrations transferred between owners. Exceptions include plates for veterans, firefighters, and amateur radio operators.

Ontario allows plate transfers in certain cases, such as among family members. You need approval from the Ministry of Transportation. Ontario classic car owners can buy year-of-manufacture plates up to 1973. Just follow the set terms and conditions.

Different provinces employ various schemes for reissuing plates, known as “replating.” In places like New Brunswick, Ontario, plates are permanent. They replace them only upon request or for remaking. In other areas, replating happens as plates age. Some places recall plate series regularly for reissuance. Optional-issue plates may have different replacement rules.


In Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon, you only need a rear license plate. But in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario, you need plates on both ends. You can use custom plate frames as long as they’re not blocking any stickers.

Vanity and speciality plates

In most provinces, except Newfoundland and Labrador, you can get vanity plates for your car. These plates have custom serial numbers. They can’t have offensive messages, but rules vary.

Some places offer speciality plates where you choose the design. For example, a university alumni might get a plate with the school logo. Some of the extra money spent on these plates goes to charity.

Saskatchewan issued special plates in 2010 to celebrate the Roughriders’ centennial. The slogan “Pride Lives Here” is featured on these plates. You can also get a personalized version for extra cost.

Veterans can get special veteran’s licence plates. Provinces may issue commemorative plates as a standard option. These plates can honor various events or symbols.

All provinces offer specialized plates for licensed amateur radio operators. These plates use the owner’s radio call sign.

During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia issued special Olympic plates. These plates featured a mountain image and the Vancouver 2010 logo.

In 2018, Alberta introduced Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames licence plates. Most of the money from these plates goes to charity. Alberta also has a “Support our Troops” plate.

General registration licence plates

In Ontario, licensed motor vehicle dealers have a specific plate. It has “DEALER” on the left side and red letters.

This plate is for dealer-owned vehicles for sale. It can also be used for private dealer vehicles.

In Quebec, dealer plates start with “X” followed by digits. These can go on any dealer-owned vehicle.

Service providers use yellow and black DLR series plates. These are for repair, customization, or transportation.

A Service Plate is for repair, testing, or customizing. It’s also for transporting vehicles or manufacturing trailers.

Private use of vehicles with a Service Plate is not allowed.

British Columbia has Demonstration plates for dealership employees. Transporter plates are for transporting non-owned vehicles.

Manufacturer plates are used by auto makers in British Columbia.

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