There are five parts to our Frequently Asked Questions. You may click a link below to skip to a different section.
Part 1: About the YOM Program
- What is YOM?
- What does “MTO” mean?
- How much is getting YOM plates going to cost me?
- Once I buy plates from you, what comes next?
- Will the MTO allow me to register a set of restored plates?
- How is YOM different from “Historic Vehicle” plates?
- Are there any driving restrictions if I use YOM plates?
- Can I register a truck with YOM plates?
- Can I register a pair of quarterly truck plates to my truck?
- Can I register a motorcycle with YOM plates?
- An old black 1963 plate would look so cool on my brand-new black Acura. Can I do that?
- I bought a set of plates at a flea market, and the MTO said I can’t use them. Why not?
- If I sell my car, can my YOM plates be transferred or re-sold?
- My car is under restoration, and won’t be ready within six months. Can I still buy plates and register them?
- My plate approval is taking longer than I expected. Can I check on their progress?
What is YOM?
Year Of Manufacture license plates may be legally registered from the same model year as your classic auto (e.g. you can register a set of ’57 plates to your ’57 Fairlane). The number on the plates, if it is not already taken, is assigned to your vehicle. In Ontario, YOM registration is available for vehicles up to the end of ’73, and motorcycles up to the end of ’75. If you have a ’74 – ’81 vehicle, you can use a set of ’73 passenger plates with the correct date sticker, due to a neat loophole in the rules. See the FAQ about ’74 and later vehicles. Motorcycles from ’76- ’80 used to be able to participate, but no longer.
What does “MTO” mean?
MTO stands for the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. They’re the government body in charge of driver and vehicle licensing. In Ontario, we typically visit a ServiceOntario counter to access MTO services. By the way, I don’t work for the MTO, nor have I ever. License plates are just my long-standing hobby– although I’m a living library of information. Read on.
How much is getting YOM plates going to cost me?
First, there’s the cost of purchasing the plates from Ontplates.com. Then, you’ll have to pay the MTO a fee of $251.65 to register the number to your name. Then, you’ll have to buy your expiry sticker at your local MTO / ServiceOntario outlet. YOM plates do not have historic restrictions, so the sticker is full price.
Once I buy plates from you, what comes next?
Ontplates.com sends this info to you in writing with each pair of plates you buy, so you’re not left scratching your head. The MTO describes the procedure at this link in full on their site. Succinctly: You send the plates and original vehicle ownership to the MTO Head Office in Kingston, plus a cheque to cover the $251.65 fee for registration– which presently costs less than to order personalized plates. You can also read about my own experience in plating my car with YOMs, including all the purchase and safety steps taken.
Will the MTO allow me to register a set of restored plates?
Yes. As long as they’re real plates painted neatly in the correct colours, the MTO will accept them upon inspection. Anything we have listed here is guaranteed to be OK to register.
How is YOM different from “Historic Vehicle” plates?
Historic Vehicle plates are new modern blue-on-white plates. The annual validation sticker costs around $20 per year, but Historic Vehicle plates limit your driving to and from car shows only– plus, they’re not very exciting to look at. This is different from the YOM program, which lets you legally register 1963 plates to your 1963 Impala. YOM plates cost the regular amount per year for your renewal sticker, and there are no driving restrictions. There is currently no way to use YOM plates, while just paying the $20 Historic Vehicle rate for your annual sticker. You can’t “have your cake, and eat it too.”
Are there any driving restrictions if I use YOM plates?
Nope. They’re not the same as Historic Vehicle plates, which only cost around $20 per year for a sticker and limit your driving to and from car shows only. YOMs cost the regular amount per year for your renewal sticker– and as such, you can drive your car with YOMs anywhere, anytime you want– although your insurance company may already impose its own limitations if you have a “Silver Wheel” policy.
Can I register a truck with YOM plates?
Trucks can play the YOM game as long as they’re under 3000 kg, so pickups are eligible. However, trucks were issued special red, green, yellow and blue plates in the 1960s and 1970s with the month and year on them (e.g. MAR-68). These are called “quarterlies” and they are not allowed to be used for YOM because there are too many variations. A truck of this era would have to use regular car plates, such as the ones I have for sale– although it’s historically inaccurate for pickups of model years 1966 and newer.
Can I register a pair of quarterly truck plates to my truck?
No. Only plates that are the same as the passenger style can be used (e.g. the kind shown in our sales stock). Quarterly plates were issued to commercial vehicles and trailers from 1963 through 1980. They always had the month and year of expiration stamped at the top, and they came in four colours. These plates are specifically disallowed by the YOM program because there are too many colour variations. Even if the number happens to be available on a pair of quarterly plates, they are still disallowed from the YOM program. Thus, we do not sell these plates, and since they are useless for YOM, we do not buy them, either. Many quarterly plates survive in Ontario’s basements and garages to this day because of the non-renewable nature of these plates; also, the province of Ontario manufactured a large amount of surplus quarterly plates each year and they were easy for collectors to acquire. Even mint, unopened examples of these plates are worth only about a dollar each at most. Any Ontario plate that has a month stamped into it, as well as the date, is a quarterly plate. Pictured above are examples of 1967 and 1972 quarterlies that are not allowable under the YOM program.
Can I register a motorcycle with YOM plates?
Yes, motorcycles up to the ’75 model year can be registered with a YOM plate. Although motorcycles typically display one plate only, it’s still $251.65 to have a motorcycle plate authenticated by the MTO. Motorcycle plates were made in triple sets from ’66 and earlier, but only one plate need be submitted. It’s very hard to find trios, or even two out of three.
An old black 1963 plate would look so cool on my brand-new black Acura. Can I do that?
No, you can’t. YOM is a program that strictly matches the plate year to the year your car was made. Modern cars cannot participate.
I bought a set of plates at a flea market, and the MTO said I can’t use them. Why not?
Ever since the MTO digitized its records in the early 1980s, any number that has been in use since then will come up in their system as being “taken”. Most numbers on older plates, especially the 1955-1972 era, have sadly been recycled onto snowmobiles, permanent trailers and motorcycles. Let’s say you have a nifty pair of ’67 plates, number J23-456, and the MTO says you can’t use them because that number was reissued to a trailer in the 1980s. Even if the trailer has been rusting in the woods for fifteen years, its registration number still exists in the MTO database, so that number is taken. The MTO will not allow transfer of these numbers to a new owner, unless you can somehow locate the owner, but they won’t give out that info… so if the plate number comes up as “taken”, you’re basically stuck. All plates in our sales stock have numbers that have not been issued to any owner, or the numbers used to be assigned to a modern plate, but were handed back in and properly cancelled. That’s good news, because it means you can register them. We run multiple checks, and we know which results mean that a pair of plates can be registered.
If I sell my car, can my YOM plates be transferred or re-sold?
According to our conversations with the YOM office in Kingston, if the YOM plates are legally attached to the vehicle, they can be transferred with the vehicle if it is sold. This the preferred way for YOM plates to be transferred to a new owner. Some things you should know first:
- YOM licence plates are the only type of plate in Ontario that can be transferred directly to a new owner.
- Transfer must be done at the same time as car is sold.
- YOM plates can only be transferred to the buyer of the car to which the plates are attached (e.g. you can’t sell the car to Mike Smith and then transfer the plates separately to Steve Jones).
This is not a process that is often done at the ServiceOntario counter, so you must be clear with the clerk that YOM plates can be transferred. Here is what must be done:
- The seller of the YOM-plated car must write a letter authorizing the transfer of the plates to the buyer of the vehicle along with the sale. Use full names, quote the plate number, and quote the vehicle VIN.
- The seller of the car should provide the buyer with both halves of the original green ownership slip (the vehicle portion, as well as the plate portion).
- The buyer should go to their local ServiceOntario counter to have the change in ownership processed, and the buyer must be very clear that the vehicle is plated with YOM plates, and the plates are also to be transferred to the new owner. It is a good idea to mention that YOM plates are the only type of plate where this is allowed.
- If the desk agent is uncertain as to how to proceed (remember, it’s an uncommon transaction), have them call their Internal Support Hotline for assistance.
If the plates are not transferred with the vehicle, and you just want to re-sell them, this is not as easily done. The owner would have to visit a local ServiceOntario office to have the plates properly cancelled (terminated) and the unused portion of the annual fees are refunded. Ordinarily, doing this requires that the owner surrender the plates, but the YOM office in Kingston says the YOM plates can be retained by the owner for eventual transfer once they are terminated. Plates must remain in a terminated state for two years before they can be reissued to another person. If they are re-sold to someone else after that time, the plates would have to be re-authenticated (meaning, they would have to be sent for approval and the $251.65 fee paid).
Sometimes, clients ask us if we’re interested in buying plates back. We’ll consider that on a case-by-case basis, but the plates can only be placed in a terminated state by the client with a visit to a ServiceOntario counter first– we can’t do that for you. If they are in fact, terminated, and the plates are of a year in short supply, we may consider making a low offer for them and waiting out the termination period for eventual resale. Ask first.
My car is under restoration, and won’t be ready within six months. Can I still buy plates and register them?
We provide a six-month guarantee window to get the plates sent to Kingston and approved by the MTO. You can do this while the car is in the shop in pieces if you like, as long as you have your green ownership slip. Once you get the plates approved by the MTO, you have reserved the number in your name and there is no further time limit. Your restoration can take as long as you see fit, and whether the car is ready in four more months or four more years, your plates will be ready.
My plate approval is taking longer than I expected. Can I check on their progress?
Yes, you can. Contact us, and we’ll give you the contact info of the person who can look up your plates’ progress. Normal processing time varies, but the average is about four weeks. This can sometimes take longer in July-August, as folks take their vacations, but the number of YOM requests tends to peak at that time.
Part 2: About Our Services
- Why don’t you have an automatic “Buy It Now” button for your plates?
- What is your Six Month Guarantee?
- How much do you charge for shipping?
- How do you ship?
- I already have a pair of plates I want to use. Can you restore them?
- Can you find me a plate that has my favourite number in it?
- Can you make a plate for me with my desired number?
- Do you sell vehicle ownerships?
- I found a pair of plates on eBay that I like. The seller says they’re OK for YOM. Can you check for me?
Why don’t you have an automatic “Buy It Now” button for your plates?
Because we need a chance, BEFORE you buy, to inform you that:
- The MTO will charge $251.65 for YOM approval
- You will have to send the plates and your ownership to an MTO office tower in Kingston
- Terminated plates, if you’re buying them, require a $32 transfer fee
- You will have to bring your approved plates to your local ServiceOntario counter to attach them
Some people don’t know these facts, and the MTO fee could be a dealbreaker if you didn’t already know about it. We don’t want people click-buying our plates on impulse, only to return them, because there’s more to the YOM program than they realized. We inform first, and make sales second. If that means we talk you out of a sale, so be it.
What is your Six Month Guarantee?
All these numbers have been verified by us as being clear for YOM use (you may wish to re-verify for yourself by calling the MTO at either 1-800-387-3445 or 1-800-288-6758 from 08:30 to 17:00 ET, Monday thru Friday). Those pairs that have been restored, or are in nice original condition are guaranteed to pass inpection at the MTO for six months after purchase. If the MTO refuses to register a set of our YOM plates for any reason within the six month period, you need only send them back to us in the same condition as we sent them to you. We’ll refund the price you paid, plus at least $10 to cover your postage. Please read the Terms and Conditions (linked from main menu at the top of this page) for additional verbiage about our guarantee and its six-month duration.
How much do you charge for shipping?
Shipping is free for all purchases of plates. If buying a YOMtab only without a plate, shipping is an additional $2.
How do you ship?
For car or truck plates, we use Canada Post Small Business Expedited. That’s the small-business version of Expresspost, so delivery is tracked and promised within two business days. As shipping is free to the customer, it means that we absorb between $9 and $14 per shipment. For smaller motorcycle plates, lone YOMtabs or heavily discounted pairs of plates we send them as oversized letters via Canada Post.
I already have a pair of plates I want to use. Can you restore them?
No. Please do not ask us to restore old plates you acquired from elsewhere, or to restore plates that you are currently using on the road. All of our available hours are devoted to restoring our own stock to keep our sales business afloat. Our restoration is done by hand, and some of our work can take close to a year to finish. We don’t want to rush that process along, or stall our stock restoration queue in order to paint other people’s plates. It slows down the rate at which we can get our own restored stock out the door, and that’s bad for our business.
Given that our work can take a year to complete, we don’t want to be responsible for the safe custody of plates for that are your property, and possibly already registered in your name. If they are lost or stolen or damaged, we have no way to replace them, and so, we will not put ourselves in any position where we could be held responsible for them.
We used to accept restoration jobs for past YOM clients (it was never advertised), but as of 2017, that service is firmly discontinued.
Here is a selection of license plate restoration services you could try.
Chris Stapley Kustoms
Chris is based in Campbellford, Ontario. He runs an auto body shop, but also restores client-supplied plates. We’ve seen his plate restoration work and it’s quite neatly done. Ideal for those Ontario car-owners who prefer to deal in-province.
Finish Your Plates
One of our clients purchased some rougher original plates from us and hired Finish Your Plates to restore them. The client is very happy with the results, and characterizes the plates as “perfect”. We have not seen this work close-up ourselves, however.
The following USA-based services are ones we have never tried, so we have no first-hand info about them, so we can’t endorse them. This unordered list is not updated regularly:
Lee Lawson (ALPCA member 10161)
Finish Your Plates
Vintage Plate Restoration
Darryl’s License Plate Restoration
Can you find me a plate that has my favourite number in it?
Nope. We acquire plates randomly, and only those with YOM-available numbers are candidates for our stock. We have no way to control the numbers that turn up. We also don’t have the brain power to remember what specific number everyone is looking for, so we cannot “keep an eye out” for a plate with a specific number that you want. You can follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for updates on new additions to our stock as they become available.
Can you make a plate for me with my desired number?
We cannot fabricate new plates or provide custom numbers on existing plates. All we can do is restore old plates to like-new condition. The MTO does not allow reproduction plates in the YOM program. If you were to somehow find someone who can make a reproduction plate, it would be immediately rejected by the MTO.
Do you sell vehicle ownerships?
No, we don’t sell ownerships. We only sell plates that you can use on a vehicle that you already own.
I found a pair of plates on eBay that I like. The seller says they’re OK for YOM. Can you check for me?
We will not involve ourselves in these situations. The basis of our service is our generous written guarantee of MTO acceptance for the plates that we sell. If you want plates you can register, choose Ontplates.com with confidence; we know what we’re doing and we take pride in what we do. If you go the eBay route, you’ll be dealing with someone who may be quickly flipping plates for a profit, and you’ll take your chances without our assistance.
Part 3: Terminated Plates
- What is a “Terminated Pair” or “Terminated Plate?”
- How are terminated plates different from the other plates you sell?
- Will I be responsible for the previous person’s fines if I register a terminated pair?
- Is it more complicated to register a terminated pair?
- How do I send the plates in for registration if they’re terminated?
What is a “Terminated Pair” or “Terminated Plate?”
The serial number on your vintage plates was reissued to someone else between the 1980s and now. If the number is no longer being used, and the plates are surrendered properly to the MTO, and all outstanding fines paid, the number goes into a “terminated” state, and can be reissued to a different person. “Terminated” is a very specific status. There are a dozen others within the MTO database that mean the number is not available.
How are terminated plates different from the other plates you sell?
Most other pairs that we sell bear numbers that have never been reissued in the modern age of digital information, so there is no entry in the database for them.
Will I be responsible for the previous person’s fines if I register a terminated pair?
No. If there are outstanding fines, the plates are prevented from being placed in a terminated status. A terminated status means there are no outstanding fines to collect from the previous owner.
Is it more complicated to register a terminated pair?
There’s an additional step, involving a $32 transfer fee (fee increase to $32 from $20 effective January 1, 2017), and a declaration that you will have to complete. The declaration acknowledges that the number is being transferred to you, and that you’ll have to pay for your own traffic tickets after the transfer. This absolves the previous person who used the plate number from having to pay your fines. This extra step can add a couple of weeks to the processing time for approval of YOM licence plates, because the folks working in the YOM approval office must liaise with a separate branch of the MTO because there’s an ownership transfer involved.
How do I send the plates in for registration if they’re terminated?
Ontplates.com, in consultation with ServiceOntario, has come up with an improved procedure below to reduce your waiting time. Follow these instructions exactly for fastest service. Package the following items together:
- Your plates purchased from Ontplates.com
- Original green vehicle ownership slip (use a photocopy in your glovebox in the interim if presently licenced)
- Payment of your registry and transfer fees via one of the two following methods:
- If paying by cheque, enclose one cheque for $251.65, and a second cheque for $32, payable to the Minister of Finance
- If paying by credit card, enclose a printed and completed ServiceOntario Payment Authorization Form, and indicate clearly on the form that you are authorizing both the above fees. Ontplates.com can provide you with an electronic copy of this form, which you may print.
- If you use e-mail, enclose a written note indicating your correct e-mail address, with a request that the YOM 003 Declaration Form be sent to you via e-mail (you can then complete it and e-mail it back, which will reduce processing time). Otherwise, you will be sent a paper copy of the declaration to sign and return via postal mail.
Send the above items to:
Ministry of Government Services – Service Ontario
Kingston Production & Verification Services – Renewals Section
P.O. Box 9700
Kingston, Ontario K7L 5N2
Once complete, your plates will be returned with a letter that serves as your plate ownership. Take all of it to your local ServiceOntario location to have your YOM plates stickered and valid.
Part 4: If Your Car is ’74 or Newer
Can I get a 1992 plate for my 1992 Crown Victoria?
Not normally. For cars / light trucks, YOM ends at 1973, and I can help with a vehicle up to 1981 using a legal loophole. Generally, vehicles from 1982 and later have no option aside from a new personalized vanity plate. If you own a vehicle from 1982 or later, and you simply want to have an older pair of non-reflective plates for it, you can legally put 1973 “Keep It Beautiful” plates on them by buying from us and then ordering the same number as a personalized plate. This is historically inaccurate, and we don’t have ’82 or later stickers to offer you, but it is doable; see the additional FAQ about “74 or later.”
Very, very rarely, we may have a 1980s era plate in stock with a number that is available for ordering as a personalized plate (don’t hold your breath, as we’ve found such a pair only twice since starting the business in 2003, and we have no source for more).
Can I use YOM plates if my car is ’74 or later?
Yes. It’s not technically a YOM registration, although it is fully legal. Here’s how it works:
- Let’s assume you own a ’78 Camaro. You can buy a pair of ’73 plates (ABC-123 format) without a sticker, and we’ll put a ’78 sticker on what will be the rear plate (lower right sticker box). Some of our plates have the date sticker already affixed, so you can also choose from those for your particular year. We have stickers from ’74 going up to ’81.
- Call ServiceOntario at 1-800-AUTO-PL8 and order the same ABC123 plate number as an own-choice vanity plate. This costs $310 (higher than the YOM registration fee of $251.65).
- When your new plates arrive, take them to your local ServiceOntario outlet and have them legally attached to your car. Don’t bring the old plates that you bought from me– don’t even mention the old plates that you have… it’ll scare the clerk, and they can be quick to tell you something can’t be done if they don’t grasp it the first time. If an over-eager clerk offers to affix your expiry sticker on your plates, insist that you’ll do it at home.
- Affix the new expiry sticker on the top right of one of the old plates. Mount them on the car, and legally drive at your leisure. Hang the new plates in your garage for fun. This is OK because ’73 plates were never withdrawn from service. Someone who received passenger plates in ’73 and has kept renewing them, or bringing them forward for registry on newer cars, can still be using the original ’73 plate in the 21st century. They’re allowed to be on the road, and legally, they’re the same as new plates. Occasionally, we still see sets of these on the road, as pictured.
What do the ’74 through ’81 stickers look like?
’74: Red with black text
’75: Green with white text
’76: Blue with white text
’77: Orange with white text
’78: Blue with white text
’79: Red with white text
’80: White with blue text
’81: Green with white text
They are smaller than the present-day stickers, and fit neatly into the sticker box at the lower right of plates embossed with the “73” year. One single sticker was affixed to the rear plate, and the front plate did not have a sticker.
Stickers of the same size were made for license plates through ’82, but we only have stickers up to ’81 in stock.
It is worth noting that trailer plates from ’74-’79 were also given stickers of the same size, although the colours were different than those pictured here.
Part 5: Miscellaneous Questions
- Do the letters on the plates mean anything?
- Can I buy YOM plates for someone as a gift?
- I’m just looking for a license plate as a collectible only. Can you help?
- I phoned in the number on my plates, the person said they were OK, but my plates were rejected. What’s going on?
- What are the dimensions of a pre-1968 motorcycle plate?
- Do you have really old motorcycle plates? I have a 1939 Harley-Davidson.
Do the letters on the plates mean anything?
In most cases, the letter is simply another character in the serial with no special meaning. Our YOM stock from 1955 and onward may contain some special letters:
- CC: Plates beginning with CC were issued to consular cars… like a diplomat, but working in a secondary office, and not the main embassy in Ottawa.
- D: Plates beginning with a D were reserved for doctors’ cars.
- X: Plates beginning or ending with an X generally went to wagons or passenger vans, but occasionally, they were put on cars. Presumably, it was late in the year and the regular plate stock was exhausted, and the next year’s plates had not been released. X plates were just folded into the regular passenger series after 1972 because there was so much overlap.
The historic use of these plates is irrelevant to the MTO for YOM registration because aside from the distinctive letters, the colour and format of the plates is the same as regular car plates. I know this stuff because I’ve been collecting for decades. It’s doubtful that there is anyone left at the MTO who is aware of this particular information.
Can I buy YOM plates for someone as a gift?
Sure can! But there are some tasks to do and costs involved for the recipient of your gift. In a nutshell, the following must be done by the person who receives your gift of plates:
- Send the plates + ownership to an office tower in Kingston for approval
- Pay $251.65 for registration of the plate number to the recipient’s name
- Go to your local ServiceOntario outlet to have the plates stickered (full annual sticker price)
Discuss it with your loved one first. It breaks the surprise, but if they’re not keen on the steps above, perhaps YOM isn’t your best choice for now.
I’m just looking for a license plate as a collectible only. Can you help?
The stock posted on Ontplates.com is intended for street-legal registration to classic car owners. We go to a lot of trouble and cost to ensure that we only offer plates with numbers that will be allowable to the MTO (most plates have numbers that are “taken” in the system). Thus, we can’t come down on our prices just because a person wants a collectible. If you want a collectible plate, they can be often be found quite cheaply on eBay, and we generally send people there when they ask. If you have your heart set on an item from our stock, we will sell to you after we have informed you that there are cheaper options.
I phoned in the number on my plates, the person said they were OK, but my plates were rejected. What’s going on?
You probably bought your plates someplace other than Ontplates.com and received erroneous information over the phone when the numbers were being checked. Sometimes, the telephone agents misinterpret the results from their system and mistakenly assume that your plates can be used. Bear in mind that they take calls about hundreds of other things aside from YOM licence plates. At Ontplates.com, we know exactly how to check plate numbers, and we spend a lot of time double- and triple-checking them before being satisfied that we can guarantee their use. That’s the value of buying plates from Ontplates.com. Our business is built on our guarantee that your plates will be accepted. We’ve sold over 1000 pairs for this purpose and had a grand total of five rejections from the MTO. If that ever happens and we think there’s been a mistake, we’ll go to bat for you and have the error corrected. If the mistake is on us, we’ll make it right at no extra cost to you. But if you’ve bought your own plates from the guy at the flea market, you have no guarantees about anything.
What are the dimensions of a pre-1968 motorcycle plate?
OK, This question isn’t frequent– it was only asked once, for a customer who was fabricating a mounting backplate. But we made a drawing of a plate by tracing the outline and holes, and then we measured all the dimensions and hole centres. About the two holes at the bottom centre: Not all motorcycle plates from this era have them. Cycle plates were made in threes, with two of them riveted back-to-back. Those plates were given the centre holes for easy mounting on the front fender. The third plate with no centre holes was intended for the rear. Also of note is the fact that the plates can have a slight warp to them because of the embossing. The overall length and width can vary by about 1/16 of an inch.
Do you have really old motorcycle plates? I have a 1939 Harley-Davidson.
Unfortunately, we cannot help with motorcycle plates older than the 1950s. They are very rare, and we hardly ever see them. Also, they are very expensive to acquire, whether or not the number is available for YOM use. For example, there was a matched pair of 1942 Ontario motorcycle plates on eBay in the spring of 2016– The final sale price was over $360 CDN. Even if we were to get a reasonable deal on them as incoming stock, we get few requests for older cycle plates, so the combination of low YOM demand and high cost means they’d take a long time to sell. Their value as collectibles put them beyond our reach for YOM purposes. Sorry!
If our FAQ doesn’t cover your specific question, please head to the contact forms to ask us directly.