New Driver's Guide: How to Register a Car in Alberta
Buying your first vehicle can be an exciting and nerve-wracking task. However, as eager as you may be, there are several things that you need to take care of before hitting the open Alberta roads.
Some of these responsibilities include:
- Find a vehicle within your budget
- Get your driver's license by passing the Alberta Class 5 road test
- Research and purchase auto insurance
Finally, there's one task you need to take care of: registering your vehicle.
If you're not sure how to register a car in Alberta, or are unfamiliar with specific aspects of the process, be sure to continue reading.
What does register your vehicle mean?
For those that aren't familiar, the term "registering your vehicle" means that you've undergone the necessary process of notifying the Alberta government of your vehicle purchase. Additionally, it validates that you've paid all the fees and taxes related to your car.
In some cases, your vehicle may need to undergo an inspection before the registration process is complete. A typical example of this is a vehicle that was purchased out-of-province.
Why do you need to register your vehicle?
According to subsection (b) of Section 167(1) of Alberta's Traffic Safety Act, "the subsisting certificate of registration issued respect of the motor vehicle and any trailer attached to the motor vehicle and, in the case of a vehicle in a prescribed class of commercial vehicles, either the subsisting certificate of registration or a copy of the certificate of registration,".
In layman's terms, this means that drivers are required to have access to a copy of their registration in their vehicle.
How to register a vehicle in Alberta
Now that you understand why registering your vehicle is imperative, we can go through the registration process.
If you don't know how to register a new car in Alberta, you'll be surprised by how straightforward the process is.
In Alberta, you can register your vehicle in person, online or through the mail, giving drivers various options to choose from. To register your car, you need the following documents and credentials:
Proof of ownership
You need to validate that you own the vehicle through purchase, gift, inheritance, etc.
Proof of insurance
As mentioned earlier, you need to purchase auto insurance before registering your vehicle. Be sure to compare different plans to see which company offers the right product for you.
Be sure to have a copy of your identification on hand. Some accepted forms of identification include:
- Drivers license
- Health card
- Government-issued ID
Pay the required fees
Very few things in life are free, including vehicle registration. Before you blaze a trail in your new vehicle, expect to pay a registration fee (more on that later).
You should also expect to provide the government with the following information:
- Vehicle description
- VIN (vehicle identification number)
- License plate type and number
How long is your vehicle registered for?
In Alberta, a passenger car registration lasts from one to two years. However, new drivers need to remember that the registration's expiration date varies from person to person.
According to the Alberta government, a vehicle's registration expiry date is based on the first letter (or, in some cases, letters) of the individual's last name.
For example, if your last name starts with the letters "Gr," then your registration expiration date is in August, regardless of the month you registered your vehicle.
Interestingly, businesses in Alberta have to follow similar rules. The expiration date of your business vehicle's registration is based on the first letter, letters or number in its official name.
How much does it cost to register a vehicle in Alberta?
As mentioned earlier, registering your vehicle isn't free. However, the price can vary depending on a handful of factors.
Length of registration period
In Alberta, it costs $84.45 to register a passenger vehicle for one year. On the other hand, it costs $159.45 to register your car for two years. In turn, you can save a pretty penny by registering your vehicle for two years.
If you're registering for the first time, the government will probate the cost of your registration based on the expiration date.
Type of vehicle
The type of vehicle that you purchase can heavily influence how much you pay in registration fees.
Here's what it currently costs to register the following vehicles (for one year):
- Motorcycle - $54.45
- Trailer - $109.45
- Off-road vehicles (tractors, forklifts, backhoes, etc.) - $54.45
Additionally, it's worth noting that antique cars (models that are 25 years old or more) have a one-time registration fee of $39.45, making them the cheapest vehicles to register on the list.
Vehicles that don't require registration in Alberta
There are a handful of vehicles that don't require registration. Some common examples of these vehicles include:
- Golf carts
- Electric Scooters
However, it's important to remember that you can't drive these vehicles on public roads and streets. But, these vehicles can be used on private property for casual use and transportation, making them ideal for drivers with large, open properties.
What happens when you fail to produce registration?
After being pulled over on a public road or street in Alberta, the authorities will immediately ask you for your driver's license and registration. Have you ever wondered what happens if you don't have a copy of your registration on you?
If you cannot supply a copy of your vehicle registration, you'll likely be issued a ticket for $230. This fine grows by another $230 for each piece of necessary documentation (driver's license and insurance) that the driver fails to produce.
In turn, driving without the necessary documentation can cost drivers in Alberta upwards of $690. This is one of the ways that the Alberta government is trying to discourage irresponsible and illegal activities on the road.
It is worth noting that getting a ticket for driving without registration doesn't influence your demerit points or your insurance rates.
Registering your vehicle is easier than you think
Now that you understand how to register a vehicle and why it's essential, you can get started on the process, taking you one step closer to your first adventure on the road.