While Ontario scrapped licence plate renewal stickers earlier this year, many people are learning the hard way that there’s still a fine for plates that haven’t been renewed.
While the yearly $120 fee is no longer required to keep plates up-to-date, those who don’t renew them are facing hefty fines - $500.
The issue has inspired the Ontario Provincial Police’s Highway Safety Division to post a video on social media. In it, OPP Sergeant Kerry Schmidt says that while you might get birthday cards in the mail, one thing you no longer will get in your postbox is a renewal notice from the Ministry of Transportation to renew your VAL tag for your passenger vehicle, light commercial truck, motorcycle or moped.
“It may not cost anything, but you are still required to go online and renew your registration,” he says.
You are still required to renew your vehicles registration, even though there is no fee and no sticker is required on your plate.
If you drive a passenger 🚙 or light commercial vehicle 🛻, motorcycle 🏍or moped 🛵you can renew online here⬇️https://t.co/QPfGMLJYMY @ONtransport pic.twitter.com/HZafEBH6os
— OPP Highway Safety Division (@OPP_HSD) July 14, 2022
He adds that plates typically expire on the owner’s birthday and that they’re responsible for renewing their validation.
A spokesperson for OPP told Yahoo Canada News that the police department is not responsible for setting fines or making the rules - they’re responsible for enforcing them - but that they made the video because they found themselves often running into the problem of people not renewing their licences.
Matti Siemiatycki, director of the Infrastructure Institute and a professor of geography and planning at the University of Toronto, says the province moved very quickly to remove the renewable licence fees, so if it hasn't been properly communicated that licences still must be removed, they need to work on that.
"They probably need to get out and spread the message more widely, if there's confusion," he says. "In public communication, clarity and repetition are key so I think now if it's becoming noticeable there's an issue, the next step is to go back and make sure the message is clear that you have to renew your licence renewable plates...so people aren't inadvertently caught up in fines."
Some people took to social media to express their frustration with the costly fees and the lack of reminders.
Ontario service no longer mailing/emailing notices the car registration,drivers licence, OHIP renewal. I got a $110 ticket because I didn’t renew on birthday. I had to go in person as website kept crashing. Called friends to give heads up as many also confused, hadn’t renewed.
— Kathleen Aldridge (@KathleenAldrid9) July 18, 2022
— John Ryerson (@jryerson1) July 18, 2022
So, people in Ontario are getting $500 tickets for not renewing their "free" licence plates... And, MTO didn't even send us a heads up telling us we still had to renew.
Doug Ford's incompetence strikes again. 🥴 #OnPoli #Ontario
— DerekZoolander85 (@dzoolander85) July 17, 2022
I hope that in 2026, #Ontario voters remember how they were bribed into apathy by @fordnation and gave him a majority government with record low turnout
Ford abandoned us as our #healthcare system crumbled
But we got free license plate stickers!#onhealth #onpoli https://t.co/zCrdl4gmU8
— 🍊Dr. Hal Berman 🍊 (@BermanNDP) July 18, 2022
Even though there is no longer a cost to renew your license plate stickers in Ontario, you still must do so.
There are hefty fines if you don’t. The online wait (yes online wait) was 35 minutes. You can renew for 1 or 2 years for $0.00.https://t.co/dIZLxorsX5#Ottawa #OnPoli pic.twitter.com/Dn8mQU1O5o
— Michael Wood (@mikewoodottawa) July 18, 2022
Price for #free service is that there is no service. Have we learned nothing from #digital services introduced as #free and then when we are dependent on them, charge is introduced. In this case, #citizens were given responsibility for tracking their own #licence plate. #ontario https://t.co/BhJEMSXOc1
— Joanne E. McNeish (@Profpaper) July 18, 2022
Remember to renew your vehicle licence plate stickers. You don't have to pay for it anymore, but you still have to renew it. It's a $500 fine if you forget now that we don't have to pay for it anymore, DoFo conveniently left that quiet.
— Cyr (@CyrakhisDragon) July 17, 2022
Remember when residents of Ontario voted for license plate rebates rather than healthcare.
— Sunshine City Collectables (@SunshineCityCo1) July 17, 2022
Here's the thing. Even though we no longer pay for vehicle registrations in Ontario, WE STILL HAVE TO RENEW. Lots of folks seem to be unaware of this. 😬😮😬https://t.co/AwXhfW8Wei
— Phantom Ridge (Dave Ward) (@Wardworkz) July 17, 2022
What you saved in plate stickers may cost you double or more in fines if you do not renew your plates. The province does not send out reminders via Canada post anymore. Why? cause it does not have or wants to save the funds it costs to send out reminders. https://t.co/cdkbM7VmOv
— Ricardo Galvez 🍁 (@shultoncity56) July 17, 2022
Service Ontario does have a digital reminder service that will send out an automated email, text message, or phone call notification reminder 60 or 30 days before it’s time to renew your licence plate, driver’s licence, or health card.