How Motor Vehicle Registration Works in Alberta

Like in any other place, vehicle registration in Alberta is important. Nobody is allowed to drive a car, truck, or trailer (on the roads) without going through this process. Failure to register would be a breach of the Traffic Safety Act and could unearth consequences for you. Let’s avoid all that, okay? Now, how can you go about vehicle registration in Alberta?

The process is simple but could be complex if you’re unsure of what is required and the process. In this post, we have broken down all the hard details which include a car registration process, eligibility, what you need, common questions and answers, and more. At the end of this piece, you should confidently complete the process without any hassles. Let’s dive right in!

RELATED. How Motor Vehicle Registration Works in Ontario


Are You Eligible to Register a Car in Alberta?

Before starting the car registration process, you must have passed the age eligibility requirement. A person who is 18 years or older can register a vehicle himself. However, if you’re under 18 and self-reliant, you would need to get consent from your parent(s) or guardian(s).

If you fall into the latter cadre, your parent would have to sign a consent form at the registry agent office.

For people visiting Alberta for a limited time (less than 183 days), who have already registered their car in another province, an Alberta vehicle registration isn’t necessary. Moreover, new residents in Alberta are allowed 90 days of grace to have their cars registered. 


What Do You Need for Alberta Vehicle Registration?

If you’re eligible to go ahead with your Alberta vehicle registration, here are the following documents you need to take to your local registration centre. To find one, visit this registry agent finder and search for agents in your city. There you’d get their phone contact t, fax, and address. 


Proof of Ownership

This is quite obvious. You need to prove that you’re the rightful owner of the car to get it registered. You can’t start the process without this document. This document could be either of these: A bill of sale, lease, or a probated will. 


Personal Identification

For obvious reasons, ensure you go along with an acceptable identification card. This could be your driver’s license, international passport, or national ID. Whichever one you present, it has to be valid and not expired. 


Valid proof of Auto Insurance

Insurance is a key factor in Alberta vehicle registration, so ensure you’ve got this covered first. You also want to make sure you got insured by an Alberta insurance company.

What’s more? There is a mandatory minimum amount of auto insurance you must carry to be allowed to register your car. Notably, personal liability and property damage, as well as accident benefits, is compulsory. Any other additions on your part are welcome too.


Vehicles That Are Exempt From Registration

Not all vehicles need to be registered in Alberta. If you own any of the following types of vehicles, there’s no need to worry about registration.


Out-of-service inspection

This type of inspection determines the overall safety and mechanical fitness of the car. It doesn’t take a ton of time to carry out the inspection. At most, 2 hours and the findings would be available. The out-of-service inspection is done by a certified technician licensed by Alberta Transportation’s Vehicle Inspection Program. 

The technician would examine the structural integrity of the vehicle’s body. Also, he would check for corrosion. As for the mechanical aspect of the car, checks would be done on all the essentials including engine controls, powertrain, steering, braking, electrical systems, lights, tires, exhaust, among others. 

In the end, the technician would tell you about the health of your car and if it is deficient you would need to carry out some repairs. If that is the case, it is important that those repairs are done within 10 days to avoid an additional full inspection fee. 

Once your car is certified, make sure to get the car registered within 14 days. The inspection certificate is only valid for a 14-day period. Failure to do so within this timeframe will result in a full out-of-service inspection again.

Salvage inspection

This type of inspection is usually carried out on a ‘salvage vehicle’. ‘Salvage’ simply means cars that have been written off or are almost unusable but can be rebuilt. For a successful Alberta vehicle registration, you may be required to do a salvage inspection.

Usually, cars are declared salvage by the insurance company. If the inspection goes well and the technician gives the car a ‘rebuilt’ rating, it means the car is good enough and can be registered and driven in Alberta. However, if your vehicle is considered non-repairable, it cannot be registered. The best that can be done is to dismantle it for parts.

The salvage inspection includes all aspects of the out-of-province inspection. It takes about 4 hours to complete the process. If your vehicle has been labelled ‘salvage’ by an insurance company, find a vehicle inspection facility to get your car checked.

As it is the case with out-of-province inspection, after the required repairs on your car is complete and you have presented a certificate, you have 14 days to register the car. There are certain requirements for rebuilding a salvage vehicle you should know. This will help you go through the process seamlessly. You should find this resource helpful.

Commercial Inspection

This is another type of inspection specifically for vehicles intended for commercial purposes. If you plan on moving people or goods on Alberta roads you’re subject to a commercial inspection. Like the other inspections, this too is carried out by private facilities and technicians who are licensed by Alberta Transportation to carry out inspections under the Vehicle Inspection Program. 

Keep in mind that you would have to repeat this process annually if your vehicle weight meets or exceeds 11,794 kg. And if your bus caries more than 10 passengers, it must be inspected once every six months. 


What is Contained in a Vehicle Registration Certificate?

When you have successfully met all requirements for Alberta vehicle registration, here’s what to expect in the certificate:

The name of the registered owner: That would be you unless you registered the car on someone’s else’s behalf. In that case, it would be the person’s details.


Vehicle identification number: This number is a unique identifier that is assigned to all registered vehicles. It is a 17-digit code and is compatible with international VIN convention. In cases of theft, fraud, accidents or any other occurrence, this number helps to identify a car and its owner easily.


License plate type: Depending on your preferences or type of vehicle you register, you’d be given a plate that corresponds. Alberta currently provides the following license plates: Veteran license plates, antique or motorcycle license plates, amateur radio operator license plate, in-transit or temporary license plate, as well as personalized plates. 


License plate number: You also get a unique number for your license plate. Depending on the type of plate,


A description of the vehicle: This details the make and model of the car, colour, size, and other relevant information. 


Alberta Vehicle Registration – Common Questions


When does my vehicle registration expire?

The government of Alberta has a pre-determined schedule that corresponds with the first letter of your last name. You can check your Alberta vehicle registration expiry month here.


Is it possible to register a vehicle online in Alberta?

No, it’s not. You need to visit and register your vehicle at a registry agent. However, you can renew your registration online.


What would it cost me to register my car in Alberta?

It costs about $84.45 to register a passenger car for a year and $159.45 for two years. The registration fee for other types of vehicles differ, they are:

  • Motorcycles: $54.45
  • Off-road vehicle: $54.45
  • Antique vehicle: $39.45
  • Trailer: $109.45


Which vehicles don’t need registration in Alberta?

  • Golf carts
  • Small mopeds
  • Electric scooters
  • Mini all-terrain vehicles
  • Minibikes


What is the penalty for driving without vehicle registration in Alberta?

Driving a vehicle that has not been registered is illegal in Alberta. You would be fined no less than $200 if you’re stopped by the police.


Where can I find a registry agent?

Registry agents are scattered across Alberta. Actually, there are over 200 of them. Find one closer to you here.


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