Having a personalized licence plate is one way to express who you are while you are behind the wheel of your vehicle. It is also fairly easy to get one. While many drivers continue to get them, others have been rejected as they do not meet the MTO’s criteria for personalized plates. Let’s take a look at how to get personal with your plates.

Personalized licence plates

A personalized licence plate message may be created using almost any combination of letters and numbers. Passenger and commercial plates may have two to eight characters. Motorcycles may have two to five characters. Your application will not be accepted if the combination of letters/numbers you selected has already been issued to another driver.

How to order personalized licence plates

You can buy a personalized licence plate online for your vehicle or for someone else if:

  • You have a driver’s licence number
  • Are in possession of a registrant identification number (RIN
  • You have paid any outstanding fines (e.g. speeding, improper lane changes and careless driving), required on or after May 1, 2017

If you don’t have a driver’s licence number or RIN, you can visit a ServiceOntario centre or call 1-800-AUTOPL8 (2886758) to order a personalized licence plate. Additionally, you can convert a regular licence plate to a personalized licence plate.

Graphic licence plate options

With over 60 graphics available to choose from, you can add a touch of personality to your vehicle. Some of the graphic types available are:

  • A loon
  • A trillium
  • The logo of your favourite Ontario professional sports team
  • Community organization
  • University/college emblem
FYI: Personalized licence plates with graphics are available with a choice of English or French slogan.

What is the criteria for ordering customized plates?

There are specific criteria that a personalized plate must meet:

  • Your combination of numbers and letters cannot already be in use
  • It must be between two and eight characters long
  • You cannot have more than four identical numbers or letters in a row
  • Interchangeable numbers and letters are not allowed (for example S/5, A/4)

How much does it cost?

You need your licence or RIN and no outstanding driving fines when you go to a ServiceOntario centre to choose two-to-eight characters (numbers and/or letters) you want on your plate. The fee is between $310 to $336. Delivery of your customized plates can take anywhere from four to eight weeks. If the plate you want is not in stock, you can order it and have it delivered by courier.

If you opt for a graphic plate embellished with a logo, there’s an approved list that includes mentioned above. These plates start at $82.15.

FYI: Any outstanding fines, non-sufficient fees (NSF), and Highway 407 tolls related to your license plate will be added to your online transaction total.

To learn more about how traffic tickets can impact your insurance rates, click here.

Who can reject the plates?

The Ontario government rejected 3,887 plates between May 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020. This included many variations of COVID-related plate names.  Provincial staff reviews requests for custom plates submissions. In some cases, those get escalated if they think the plate might break the criteria. The plate then goes to a group called the Personalized Licence Plate Review Committee. It meets once a week to sort through questionable plates. ServiceOntario releases a list of personalized plates that have been requested by drivers. This year, that list stretches no fewer than 31 pages, suggesting Ontario motorists in quarantine had a little extra time on their hands.

Rejected topics

Legibility problems, such as numerous repeated digits and intentionally-confusing character combinations2, make it difficult for OPP officers and toll cameras to read. Therefore, these will be rejected. Other eliminating criteria are:

  • Violence or criminal activity
  • Sexual (and eliminatory) functions
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Drugs & alcohol
  • Foul language
  • Human rights discrimination
  • Intellectual property (trademarks)
  • Abusive or obscene language

Can I add my organization’s logo to my personalized license plate?

Your company or organizations can apply to have their logo added to the list of graphic licence plates offered by ServiceOntario. There is a $250 application fee, which is returned if the application is not approved. Send an email to request an information package.

Can I personalize a plate for someone that served in the military?

Yes and no. Veteran graphic licence plates are only available to eligible veterans. A fully-completed Application for Veteran Plate Eligibility Certification form, signed and stamped by the Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Provincial Command, must be shown at a ServiceOntario centre in order to receive a Veteran graphic licence plate.

Veteran Plate Eligibility Certification form

What are sample plates?

You can order some graphic plates for decoration or your collection. You cannot legally attach sample plates to a vehicle.

What is a vanity plate?

It is another way of saying “personalized plate.”

Can I purchase a plate for someone else?

Yes. However, you can only transfer a personalized plate once to anyone before attaching it to a vehicle. Therefore, a more convenient way to gift a custom plate may be to purchase a gift certificate for one at a ServiceOntario centre. However, gift certificates are not available for sample plates or replacement licence plates.

Personalizing your licence plate is a great way to express yourself. It can be for sentimental reasons, or to show support for your favourite team. No matter your reason, it is a great way to stand out in a crowded lot! As always, if you have any questions regarding your auto policy or looking for a quote, contact isure today.

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