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Vehicle Registration (Certificate)

Who Needs This Registration?
Anyone who wants to prove ownership or sell or transfer any motor vehicle (such as a car, truck, motorcycle, farm tractor, etc.) including off-highway vehicles (such as ATVs, skidoos, etc.).

Notes: The Vehicle Certificate of Registration and the Vehicle Permit are often confused.  A Certificate of Registration is your proof of ownership (and is used to sell or transfer a vehicle); buying a Vehicle Permit gets you a set of licence plates.

When you buy a used vehicle, you are advised to do a lien search at a Registry of Deeds office or through our convenient online Lien Check service, because the Nova Scotia vehicle registration system does not keep track of liens.  And if a vehicle has a “lien” against it, that means some person or company (for example, a finance company) has the right to re-possess the vehicle unless money owed to them is repaid.
Issuing Department / Agency:
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Service Nova Scotia
Where can you get this Vehicle Registration and / or further information?
Phone: 902-424-5851 or if calling long distance, 
call 1-800-898-7668 (toll-free)

RMV Customer Services Centres are located in Most Access Nova Scotia locations

E-mail: Send us an e-mail through our online enquiry form.

Service Nova Scotia
PO Box 1652
Halifax, NS  B3J 2Z3

Fax: 902-424-0720
Application Forms & Process:
A Provincial Certificate of Registration proves who owns a vehicle (technically, it certifies that the ownership of a vehicle is properly registered to some particular person or business).

When an owner signs their Certificate of Registration over to someone else (and there is a section right on the certificate for doing this), the ownership of the vehicle is immediately transferred to that person.  However, the name of the new owner has not yet been properly registered with the Province.  To do this, the new owner contacts the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and registers as the current owner of the vehicle.  This is usually done when the new owner goes to get their Vehicle Permit and licence plates.  (See also Additional Information, below...)

As a new owner, to apply for a Certificate of Registration, you must fill out the relevant sections of the Application for Ownership, Permits and Plates.  You can get this form by mail, or from any of the offices listed above (see Where you can get..., above). For information on Identification Requirements, please visit the Registry of Motor Vehicles website.

Submit the completed form to the Registry in person or by mail, along with the applicable fee. (See Price & Payment, below...)

Waiting Period:

In person: none

By Mail: 2 business days
Provided that all the items that must accompany the application have been received
(Please allow several extra days for mail delivery.)

Expiry & Renewal:
This registration does not expire.
Price & Payment: (No tax is charged)

Registration Certificate: $13.20

Off-highway initial vehicle titling in Nova Scotia: $39.80

Replacement Copy: $13.20

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.

Related Requirements:
  1. The bill of sale, certificate of ownership or NVIS (New Vehicle Information Statement) must be presented at the counter when requested.

  2. The applicant must pay any Nova Scotia Sales Tax (15%) or the 10% component of the Harmonized Sales Tax, if applicable. The tax owing is based on the greater of the declared purchase price or Canadian Red Book value.

  3. Owners of out-of-province vehicles must present an out-of-province title.

  4. Owners of vehicles from other countries must present an out-of-province title and Customs Form K-22.

  5. For vehicle inspection requirement see Safety Inspection.
Additional Information:
  1. When you sign over your vehicle's Certificate of Registration to a new owner, you must remove your licence plates and your Vehicle Permit from the vehicle immediately. (From that point on, the responsibility to provide licence plates for that vehicle belongs to the new owner, not to you.)

  2. As soon as you sign a Certificate of Registration over to someone else, the ownership of the vehicle is immediately transferred to that person.  Technically, as soon as that happens, the existing registration of the vehicle ends, and it is no longer legally registered.   However, if (a) the vehicle has a valid safety sticker, and (b) the new owner has a valid set of licence plates issued in their own name, the Province considers that vehicle to be temporarily registered to the new owner.  This temporary registration is only good for 30 days.  (On how to get a permanent registration, see Application Forms & Process, above...)

  3. What to do with your Licence Plates:

    1. After selling a vehicle, you can take your licence plates, and attach them to another vehicle you own (for example, another car you just bought), and drive it.   You have up to 30 days to contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles to transfer your licence plate to your new vehicle and to get a new Vehicle Permit.

    2. If you are not going to use your licence plates on another vehicle, you can bring them in for a refund.  The amount of the refund will depend on how many months are left before your Vehicle registration expires.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 reported to be 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:

    1. "stolen" -- When police report a vehicle stolen, that information goes into the database, and no plates or permits will be issued.  Since every province in Canada has access to this 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.

    2. "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 plates or permit will ever be issued.
    3. "salvage" -- This is a vehicle so badly damaged by collision, accident, fire 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 or plates will be issued.
    4. However, if a "salvage" vehicle is properly repaired and a Certificate of Mechanical Fitness is completed, it will then be branded as a "rebuilt" vehicle, and a permit and plate 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.

    June 30, 2000 -- This is a "for forward" only program: vehicles which are reported after this date will have this information branded on both their Certificate of Registration and their Vehicle Permit.

    For further information on this Program, contact the Department.

Legislative Authority:
Motor Vehicle Act, Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1989, Chapter 293, Section(s) 10-15, 21-25, 37-38, 40-42

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

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