When the Ontario government announced in 2022 that it would no longer charge a fee for most personal license plate renewals, it was welcome news for Ontarians, who had previously paid up to $120 a year per vehicle to keep their license plate stickers up-to-date. Unfortunately, the government also stopped mailing out renewal reminders for expiring driver’s licenses, health cards and license plates. This is proving to be more problematic, as the number of people driving with expired licenses and plates has increased.
No automatic reminder
Drivers used to get a reminder in the mail that their driver’s license or plate sticker was coming up for renewal. Mitch has heard from a number of customers that they have been ticketed for driving with an expired license, plates or both. Anyone who still needs a heads-up to renew their driver’s license or plates can sign up on the Service Ontario website to receive free, electronic renewal reminders by email, text or phone.
Insurance non-renewed because of an expired license?
If you get a letter from your insurance company saying that you’ve been non-renewed because your license is expired, try not to panic. If it’s just a question of a month or two, all you need to do is show your broker proof that you’ve renewed your license, and your insurance will be reinstated. There’s no permanent damage to your record and it shouldn’t affect your premium.
The reason this might happen is that insurance companies have access to systems that periodically pull updated driving records. If it shows your license is expired, your insurer can’t renew your policy because they can’t legally cover an unlicensed driver. However, if you renew your license before getting a ticket, there will be no record of the lapse.
How do I renew my license or plates?
You can renew your license or plates up to 180 days before they expire, either online or in person at any Service Ontario location. Your expiry/renewal date is usually your birthday, but keep in mind that the two may not line up because plates can only be renewed for one or two years, while your driver’s license renews every five years. Check your current documents to see when they expire.
To renew your driver’s license, you’ll need:
- Your driver’s license number
- Your postal code
- Your trillium number (seven digits, no letters, on the back of your driver’s licence)
- The $90 renewal fee
If your license and health card expire at the same time, you may be able to renew them together online.
Note that in some cases you cannot renew your driver’s license online:
- If your address has recently changed
- If your license is suspended
- If you have outstanding fines
- If you require a new photo (every 10 years)
- If you require vision, written or road tests
- If you have a new medical condition that may affect your driving
If any of the above apply to you, you likely need to go to a Service Ontario centre to process your renewal. If your license expired more than one year ago, you will need a vision test. Beyond three years, you will have to pass a knowledge test and two road tests. After 10 years, you need to restart the graduated licensing program as a new driver.
To renew your plates, you’ll need:
- Your license plate number
- Your vehicle permit number (appears on your ownership)
- Your auto insurance company name and policy number
- Your vehicle’s current odometer reading
What if I forget to renew?
There are a number of potential consequences for driving with an expired driver’s license or plates. Here in Ontario, you could get hit with a $325 ticket for driving with an expired license or $110 for expired plates. If you happen to get caught outside Ontario, the fines could be even higher.
In terms of insurance, if you get caught driving with an expired driver’s licence, that could impact your rate for the next three years. The good news is that insurance companies typically won’t deny your claim for an expired license if it’s a matter of a few months. If you let your license lapse for more than a year however, that could invalidate your coverage. A ticket for an expired plate won’t affect your insurance premiums.
Either way, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so check your expiry dates, and sign up for reminders if you need them.
Mitch is always happy to help if you have any questions about how licensing, tickets or anything else could impact your insurance. Give us a call today.