While it is perhaps possible to buy a car in Ontario without insurance, you cannot register as the vehicle’s owner without a policy for the vehicle in question. Without such registration, you can’t obtain the permit that says you’re the legal owner, and you can’t purchase licence plates of any sort. All of these things are required before you can legally operate a car on Ontario roads.
Ontario Car Insurance
The first step in getting a car registered and on the road is obtaining car insurance. Ontario’s system is a highly-regulated private insurance market. Every vehicle on the road must have a minimum of $200,000 third-party liability coverage. If you’re at fault in an accident that injures or kills someone or damages another person’s property, this liability coverage assures you can pay damages in a settlement. Most insurers recommend more coverage and $1 million in liability is common.
Once you have obtained insurance you will be issued a “pink slip” which serves as proof of coverage and should be kept in the vehicle at all times. This slip will also be used during the registration process.
Registering a Vehicle
If you’ve bought your car through a dealer, they will likely take care of all registration and licensing for you. Buying a used car from an individual will require you to register the vehicle yourself within six days of the sale. This is done through ServiceOntario centres. To complete the registration, you will need these pieces of information:
- Proof of insurance
- Proof of purchase
- The vehicle permit from the seller with the transfer section completed
- A completed used vehicle information package
- Your driver’s licence
To get a licence plate sticker, which validates the plates mounted on your car, you’ll need a Safety Standards Certificate, indicating the car has been checked by an approved mechanic and a Drive Clean vehicle emissions test to ensure the car runs within limits for greenhouse gas emissions.
Penalties for No Insurance
In the case of a traffic stop, the driver is required to prove the vehicle is insured to minimum Ontario standards. Driving without insurance carries a fine of $5,000 and a surcharge of about 20 percent.
If you’re driving someone else’s vehicle and you can’t produce the pink insurance slip, you can be charged with failing to surrender an insurance card. This carries a $65 fine, but in most cases, courts would cancel the ticket if you appear in court with the pink slip to show the vehicle was indeed covered.
Making a false statement about insurance coverage, or presenting an invalid pink slip is potentially the worst offense, carrying a $10,000 fine.
Unfortunately, there is no alternative to buying insurance if you want to own and drive a car in Ontario.