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Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations - Registry of Motor Vehicles

Vehicle Permit

Who Needs This Permit?
(1) Anyone who owns a motor vehicle, and wants to drive it on public roads in Nova Scotia.  This includes automobiles, vans, sport utility vehicles, trucks, campers, trailers, motorized homes, etc. (2) Anyone who owns an off-highway vehicle, and wants to drive it in Nova Scotia.  This includes ATVs, snowmobiles, dune buggies, etc. 

(In Nova Scotia, a Vehicle Permit is not the same as a Vehicle Registration, which registers your ownership of a vehicle.)

Note: When you move to Nova Scotia, you have 90 days to get a Vehicle Permit and Nova Scotia licence plates.  (A licence plate is assigned to the vehicle when the vehicle permit is issued, and getting your plate is part of that process.)

Issuing Department / Agency:
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
Where can you get this Licence and / or further information?
Phone: (902) 424-5851 or if calling long distance, 
call 1-800-898-7668 (toll-free)
Visit:

Registry of Motor Vehicles Offices are located in Most Access Nova Scotia locations

E-mail: Send us an e-mail through our online enquiry form.
Website: https://www.novascotia.ca/snsmr/rmv
Write:

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
PO Box 1652
Halifax, NS  B3J 2Z3
Canada

Fax: (902) 424-0720
Application Forms & Process:

GETTING A PERMIT for a vehicle you own:

Note: Effective January 1, 2004, any time a vehicle registration (plate) is issued or renewed for a motorized vehicle (excludes off-highway vehicles, trailers, semi-trailers and miscellaneous towed vehicles), insurance information is required. A Statement of Insurance form must be completed for in-person and mail requests. For requests online, you must provide this information electronically.

1) You become the owner of a vehicle when the previous owner signs over the vehicle registration certificate to you.  There is space to do this right on the registration certificate itself.   (Note: this signed certificate is your proof of ownership, and you cannot get a vehicle permit without it.)

2) Once that registration certificate has been signed over to you, take it to a Registry of Motor Vehicles counter and they do three things:

(a) Issue a new Registration certificate in your name (which costs $12.80);
(b) Issue a Vehicle Permit in your name (the cost is explained below); and
(c) Give you a new set of licence plates (if you need new ones).

For information on Identification Requirements, please visit the Registry of Motor Vehicles website.

GETTING A PERMIT for a vehicle you do NOT own: see Related Requirements, below.

RENEWING A VEHICLE PERMIT: see Expiry & Renewal , below.

Waiting Period:

In person: none

Expiry & Renewal:
This permit is valid for 2 years (from the end of the month it is issued) in the case of most vehicles which have licence plates with three letters and three numbers (like BXM 424].

It is valid for only 1 year (January 1 to December 31) in the case of motorcycles, trailers (over 5,000 kg), and some other vehicles.

It can be renewed, and the renewal time is 2 months before the date it expires.  The Department will send out a renewal notice before the permit expires.  So be sure to let the Department know if you change your address.  You can provide us with your change of address online.

HOW TO RENEW YOUR VEHICLE PERMIT:

ALL vehicle permits can be renewed at a Registry of Motor Vehicles counter or by mail.

Many permit renewals can be submitted online.

The exceptions are:

  • Firefighter plates (require support from firefighter chief or deputy chief)
  • Volunteer Firefighter plates (require support from firefighter chief or deputy chief)
  • Ground Search and Rescue plates (require support from Ground Search Team President)
  • Commercial plates bearing condition 101 - ambulance (require support from Department of Health)
  • Commercial plates bearing condition 105 - one way allocated (prorate)
  • Prorate plates (International Registration Plan).
  • Farm Tractor plates (permanent registration - do not require renewal)

1) ONLINE   Plates can be renewed (except for list above) through our Online Services. You may renew up to two months before the expiry date. You will be asked for insurance information for the vehicle (exception: off-highway vehicles and trailers), and, your credit card information (Visa, MasterCard or American Express) or will be directed to the Interac® Online service to complete payment for the transaction. The results of your transaction will be confirmed, including details of your payment, which can be printed for your records. Unless otherwise indicated, your payment receipt will be valid as a 10 day Interim Vehicle Permit. This 10 day Interim Vehicle Permit will legally allow you to operate your vehicle while you wait to receive your renewed vehicle permit and registration sticker in the mail. Your plate renewal request will be processed within 4 business days, and your new Vehicle Permit will then be mailed to you. Please allow additional days for postal delivery.

2) IN PERSON   All vehicle permits can be renewed in person at any of the Motor Vehicle or Access Nova Scotia offices listed above (see Where can you get this... ).  Please bring with you either (a) the renewal portion of your existing vehicle permit; or (b) the Renewal Notice sent to you by the Department. If you do not have either of these, you can fill out an application form at the counter.  You will also be required to complete a Statement of Insurance form. You can pay at the counter by cash, debit card, Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit card, or cheque (or money order) made out to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  Your renewal will be effective immediately, and you will be given your new Vehicle Permit at the counter.

3) MAIL   All vehicle permits can be renewed by mail .  To do this, use either: (a) the renewal portion of your existing vehicle permit; or (b) the Renewal Notice sent to you by the Department.  You will also be required to complete a Statement of Insurance form.  Fill them out and mail in, along with the proper fee (see Price & Payment, below....).  Please pay by cheque or money order made out to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Once your application has reached our office, your renewal will normally be processed within 10 business days and your new Vehicle Permit will be mailed to you. Please allow additional days for postal delivery. Please note, you can renew your vehicle online at novacotia.ca/snsmr/access/online-services/vehicle-permit-renewal.asp and receive a 10 day temporary permit. The online service is not available to vehicles registered with firefighter plates, volunteer firefighter plates, ground search and rescue plates, prorate plates or registered as an ambulance.

Price & Payment: (No tax is charged)

The PRICE of a vehicle permit depends on its weight: the heavier the vehicle, the more you pay. 

For example:
Less than 1000 kilograms (like Toyota Echo, Ford Focus): $139.10
1001-1500 kilograms (like Chevrolet Impala, Honda Accord): $171.70
1501-3200 kilograms (like Dodge Caravan, half-ton pickup, most SUVs): $215.20
3201-4100 kilograms (like a 3/4 ton pick-up with camper): $268.40

To find out the cost for your type of vehicle, contact Motor Vehicles (see Where can you get further information.... above)

Payment at counter: cash, debit card, Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit card, cheque or money order made out to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Payment online:  Debit card (Interac® Online), or
Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card.

Payment by mail:   Please pay by cheque or money order made out to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Related Requirements:

If you are getting your first permit for a particular vehicle, and the vehicle is owned by someone else (for example, a leasing company), then you will need either: (a) written power of attorney from the owner, or (b) an Application for Ownership, Permits and Plates which has been signed by the owner of the vehicle on the front and the back of the form.

You can get this application form by mail or from any of the offices listed above (see Where can you get... , above), or you can download a form from the Internet.

Additional Information:

1) Because of unpaid fines or parking tickets , your access to certain Registry of Motor Vehicle transactions may be blocked.  If so, your request for a Vehicle Permit (or renewal) will be turned down until the fines are paid.   Meanwhile, your payment will be refunded.

2) Keep this Vehicle Permit in your vehicle at all times.  It shows who is the owner of the vehicle and who is the owner of the vehicle's licence plates.  It also shows whether or not the licence plates are valid.

(However, it is unwise to keep your Certificate of Registration in your vehicle, because that can make it easier for an auto thief to sell the vehicle.)

3) Any conditions attached to the permit are printed on the reverse side.

4) If you are bringing in a vehicle from out of Province, and it does not have a *valid safety inspection sticker from either Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, when you apply for your Vehicle Permit, you will be given a 10-day inspection delay.

* For vehicle inspection requirement see Safety Inspection.

5) When you see the term "Master Number" or "Client Master Number" on an application form, it refers to the number on your Driver's Licence under the heading "Master".  This 14-digit number is made up of (a) the first 5 letters of your last name [if your last name has fewer than 5 letters, the difference is made up with spaces]; (b) plus the day / month / year of your birth; (c) plus 3 computer-assigned numbers.

For example: FINCH--220867001 [5 letters (Finch) + 22 (for 22nd) + 08 (for August, 8th month of the year) + 67 (for 1967) + 001 (3 computer-assigned numbers) ]
For master numbers assigned to a group of individuals (joint ownership), the last 9 digits are computer-assigned.

6) Replacement licence plates:  If your licence plate is damaged, stolen or lost, you need to get a replacement plate.  This costs $5.65 per plate.  You can come to the Registry of Motor Vehicles counter (see Where can you get ... above) and get a replacement immediately.  You will need to know the year, make and serial number of the vehicle, and the licence plate number (the easiest thing is to bring your Vehicle Permit with you).

You can get a replacement plate by mail; this process usually takes several weeks.  Send a letter to the Department explaining what happened to your licence plate, and include either (a) a photocopy of your Vehicle Permit, or (b) this information: year, make, model and serial number of the vehicle, and the licence plate number and signature.  Also include the fee of $5.65; please pay by cheque or money order made out to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
7) You do not need a vehicle permit to drive a vehicle on a private road in Nova Scotia.

8) Stolen & Wrecked Vehicle Program:  Nova Scotia belongs to a Canada-wide database which tracks all stolen and wrecked vehicles.  As soon as a vehicle has been reported stolen, or in a major accident, that information is kept on file.

Vehicle permits & registration certificates can be 'branded' [or 'red-flagged'] in one of four ways:

(a) "stolen" -- When police report a vehicle stolen, that information goes into the national database.  That will help prevent vehicles from being stolen in one province and issued plates in another.  If the vehicle is recovered by police, this brand is removed from the vehicle's registration, and permits and plates can be issued as before, upon receipt of a "Notice of Recovery" letter.

(b) "non-repairable" -- This is a vehicle which has been so badly damaged by collision, accident, fire, flood, etc., that it cannot be put back on the road.  It must be junked or sold as scrap or for parts.  No permit will ever be issued.

(c) "salvage" -- This is a vehicle so badly damaged by collision, accident, fire, flood, etc., that the cost of properly repairing it is greater than the fair market value of the car at the time the damage was done.  Unless the vehicle is properly repaired, and issued a Certificate of Mechanical Fitness by a licensed automotive mechanic, no permit will be issued.

(d) However, if a "salvage" vehicle is properly repaired & gets a Certificate of Mechanical Fitness, it will then be branded as a "rebuilt" vehicle, and a permit can be issued.  Note: that "rebuilt" brand will stay with that vehicle for life, so that any subsequent owners will know that it has at some point suffered serious damage.

All vehicles reported after June 30, 2000 will have this information branded on both their Certificate of Registration and their Vehicle Permit.

See also Temporary (Vehicle) Permit and In Transit Permit (Vehicle Not Registered) .

Legislative Authority:
Motor Vehicle Act, Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1989, Chapter 293, Section 16

Last Updated: August 2013

Back to the Registry of Motor Vehicles Index in the Permits Directory

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