Have an Unpaid Traffic Ticket? You'll Have to Pay It to Renew Your Licence Plate

By Hayley Vesh
A woman in her car getting a traffic ticket from the police officer who has pulled her over.

You can’t ignore an unpaid traffic ticket. As much as you would like it to go away, it will catch up with you when you renew your licence plate.

How to renew your licence plate in Ontario

Renewing your licence plate sticker in Ontario requires that you have a few items in order: proof of auto insurance, your licence plate number, odometer reading, your vehicle identification number (VIN) and, if you have a heavy-duty diesel vehicle, an emissions test. As of April 2019, light-duty passenger vehicles that are seven years and older no longer require a Drive Clean emissions test to renew.

You must also pay any outstanding fines and fees, including highway tolls and parking and red-light camera tickets. Otherwise, ServiceOntario may deny your renewal.

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Most drivers can renew their licence plate stickers online or in-person at a ServiceOntario location.

The renewal fee for passenger vehicles

Region One year Two year
Southern Ontario $120 $240
Northern Ontario $60 $120

However, products that expired on or after March 1, 2020, have had their expiry date extended until further notice due to the ongoing pandemic. ServiceOntario urges customers not to visit its centres unless absolutely necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Drivers will be notified by mail when it is time to renew.

Nevertheless, drivers are still responsible for paying their renewal fee despite the temporary extension. The next time you renew, you must pay for the outstanding renewal period and the next. Think that is rough? The scenario gets worse for some drivers — those with unpaid tickets will have an even heftier bill to pay. Drivers must pay tickets, fines and fees to renew their licence plate stickers.

How to renew your licence plate in Alberta

Albertans no longer require expiry stickers on their licence plates as the province transitions to reflective plates in fall 2021. Although drivers will not have to place the stickers marking the month and year of registration on their vehicles, they will still be responsible for registration.

Albertans can sign up with MyAlberta eServices for electronic renewal reminders. To renew your licence online, you will need a verified MyAlberta Digital ID, your vehicle registration certificate, proof of insurance (pink slip), and a credit card.

You will need to pay any outstanding fines first, however. If you choose to pay online, you must wait a couple of business days for the payment to process before you can renew.

Do out-of-province tickets matter?

While an unpaid ticket in another province will not impact your ability to renew your licence plate sticker in Ontario, it can have other serious consequences.

Suppose you get convicted of a driving offence in another Canadian province, the State of New York or Michigan. In that case, demerit points will be added to your driving record, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation. Reciprocal agreements allow the provinces or states to exchange information regarding traffic violations.

Related read: Canadian Drivers and U.S. Traffic Tickets: How Does a U.S. Ticket Affect You?

Some traffic offences that result in demerit points are speeding, failing to obey a stop sign and careless driving. Criminal offences, such as impaired driving, will result in a licence suspension and higher insurance premiums.