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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

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Issuance of Licence Plates to Foreign Representatives, including Honorary Consular Officers

Policy and Procedural Requirements

Last revised: February 2012

Table of Contents

  1. Policy Objective and Scope of Application
  2. Definitions and Abbreviations
  3. Policy Requirements
  4. Administrative and Procedural Requirements
  5. Fees
  6. Exclusions and Special Cases
  7. End or Change of Status, and Definitive Departure from Canada
  8. Impaired and Careless Driving
  9. Enquiries

1. Policy Objective and Scope of Application

1.1 In Canada, it is provincial governments that carry out responsibilities relating to the issuance of motor vehicle licence plates. For its part, the Government of Canada supports to the greatest extent possible provincial authorities in establishing, implementing, delivering and monitoring vehicle licence plate programs designed specifically for foreign missions, consular posts, international organizations1 and other offices, and their representatives. This goal, which is often tied to Canada’s international obligations to ensure the security and proper functioning of foreign missions and consular posts in Canada, is primarily achieved and facilitated through consultative mechanisms and collaborative frameworks between the Department’s Office of Protocol and relevant provincial protocol offices and/or provincial ministries of transportation. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) also plays a paramount role.

1.2 The following document, which supersedes the Department’s circular notes XDC–2752 of November 9, 2005 and XDC–3164 of November 5, 2004, provides an overview of the policy and regulatory requirements that must be met by foreign missions, consular posts, international organizations and other offices, and their representatives, when applying for, or renewing, a licence plate, specifically in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.

1.3 This directive does not apply to the issuance of licence plates by the Government of Québec and those residing in the province of Québec. In order to obtain information on regulatory requirements in that province, foreign missions, consular posts and international organizations should contact the following:

Protocole du gouvernement du Québec

Service de la correspondance officielle, des privilèges et immunités
Édifice Hector–Fabre
1er étage
525 boulevard René–Lévesque Est
Québec, Québec G1R 5R9
Tel.: 418–649–2346
Fax.: 418–649–2657

1.4 Foreign representatives residing in the other provinces and wishing to register/licence a motor vehicle therein should contact the appropriate provincial protocol offices to obtain the related information.

2. Definitions and Abbreviations

For the purpose of this policy, the following expressions have the following meaning:

2.1 “Acceptance” refers to the counterfoil issued by the Department’s Office of Protocol in the Passport of a foreign representative and accredited family members as proof of accreditation.

2.2 “ICBC” refers to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, a Crown corporation responsible for providing universal auto insurance, driver licensing and vehicle registration and licensing in British Columbia.

2.3 “ID Card” refers to the photo identification document (with a ‘D’, ‘C’, ‘J’ or ‘I’ prefix) issued by the Department’s Office of Protocol as proof of the person’s accreditation.

2.4 “MTO” refers to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.

2.5 “National Capital Region”, referring to the National Capital Act, refers to the seat of the Government of Canada and its surrounding area, composed of part of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

3. Policy Requirements

3.1 It is the responsibility of Heads of Mission to ensure that all passenger vehicles owned or leased in the name of the Mission, that Mission’s State, or one of the State’s consular posts, or owned or leased by accredited representatives and their family members in Canada are properly registered at all times.

3.1.1 British Columbia: It is Province of British Columbia policy that foreign States, foreign consular posts, international organizations and other offices, along with foreign representatives and their accredited family members residing in that Province, obtain special red and white motor vehicles licence plates when registering passenger vehicles (Type 1), commercial vehicles (Type 2) and motor homes (Type 5) within 30 days of taking–up residence in the province. This rule does not apply to the registration of motorcycles. Regular white motorcycle plates are issued in this case.

3.1.2 Ontario (National Capital Region, Greater Toronto Area and Elsewhere): Foreign representatives and their accredited family members residing in that province are required to obtain special red motor vehicle licence plates when registering passenger vehicles within 30 days of taking up residence in the province. This rule does not apply to the registration of motorcycles. Regular white motorcycle plates are issued in this case.

3.2 As the issuance of licence plates falls exclusively within provincial jurisdiction, the types/categories of red licence plates and the information affixed thereto will differ from one province to the other, without prejudice to the holders’ immunity.

3.3 Consistent with paragraph 1.3, persons effectively residing in the Province of Québec, including those physically residing in the City of Gatineau, are not authorized to obtain a red Ontario licence plate under any circumstance, even if the foreign mission is located on the Ontario side of the National Capital Region. The Department would greatly appreciate if Heads of Mission could ensure that all cases of non–compliance are promptly rectified by contacting the Protocole du gouvernement du Québec.

4. Administrative and Procedural Requirements

4.1 Where are located the offices designated to register a motor vehicle?

4.1.1 British Columbia: All transactions to initially obtain licence plates for vehicles that qualify for foreign representative licence plates will only be conducted at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) Autoplan Sales Office in North Vancouver. The office is located at:

151 West Esplanade
North Vancouver, British Columbia
V7M 3H9
Tel.: 604–661–2800

Bringing a foreign vehicle to British Columbia:

New arrivals to British Columbia, if they bring a motor vehicle with them, must register their vehicle and obtain a foreign representative Licence Plate for that vehicle within 30 days. Please consult the ICBC website, for details of registering vehicles brought from other provinces, the United States or from another country.

Where to renew registration and basic insurance:

After the initial transaction, in which a foreign representative receives his or her new foreign representative licence plates, any subsequent transactions, such as renewals (obtaining a new validation sticker for an existing licence plate), mid–term changes and cancellations (both plates must be returned), may be processed by any ICBC Autoplan broker in British Columbia.

Conclusion of Posting/Appointment:

As soon as possible after, but within 30 days of the conclusion of a foreign representative’s posting or appointment, the foreign representative licence plate must be returned to an ICBC Autoplan broker. Appropriate cancellation fees and refunds for plate and insurance charges will be made.

4.1.2 Ontario (National Capital Region): Foreign representatives and their accredited family members wishing to register an imported or locally–purchased vehicle must first obtain an “entitlement form” from the Department’s Office of Protocol. Foreign missions, international organizations and other offices are required, when officially requesting these forms, to provide the year, make and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of each vehicle. Any supporting documentation must be submitted in one of Canada’s official languages. Red licence plates must subsequently be obtained in person at the following licensing issuing authority:

Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

Government Service Centre in Ottawa (City Hall)
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1J1
Tel.: 613–580–2929
Fax.: 613–580–2933

Licence plates are validated by obtaining and affixing a validation sticker to the upper right hand corner of the plate.

4.1.3 Ontario (Greater Toronto Area and Elsewhere): Foreign representatives exercising consular or official functions outside the National Capital Region and their accredited family members must, as of July 30, 2007, first obtain an “entitlement form” from the Department’s Office of Protocol. Foreign missions, international organizations and other offices are required, when officially requesting these forms, to provide the year, make and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of each vehicle. Any supporting documentation must be submitted in one of Canada’s official languages. Red licence plates must subsequently be obtained in person at the following licensing issuing authority:

Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

Government Service Centre in Toronto
College Park, Market Level
777 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C8
Tel.: 416–585–7412
Fax.: 416–585–7429

Licence plates are validated by obtaining and affixing a validation sticker to the upper right hand corner of the plate.

4.1.4 Other Private or Non–Designated Issuing Offices: Foreign representatives and their accredited family members are not authorized to obtain regular (“white”) British Columbia or Ontario plates through private or other non–designated vehicle licence issuing offices.

4.2 What documents must be presented at registration time?

4.2.1 British Columbia:
In all cases, the documentation showing proof of ownership or lease of a new or used vehicle purchased or leased in British Columbia must be provided to ICBC. Foreign representatives who have just moved to British Columbia from another jurisdiction should check the ICBC website to determine the documentation needed. In addition to these regular documents, the following is required before the special foreign representative licence plates can be issued:

  • the ID Card and their Passport containing their Acceptance for verification of eligibility and confirmation of applicable licence plate category.
  • a passed AirCare test certificate if the vehicle is other than a late model vehicle and is registered in the Lower Mainland Region of British Columbia – for details, check the AirCare website or telephone the AirCare program office at 604–930–5633.

An International Organization may register a vehicle in the name of that organization by providing a letter, on the letterhead of the international organization, signed by the Head of the organization, confirming that the international organization is the owner or lessee of that vehicle. In addition, when attending the ICBC office, the person who licences the vehicle will need to produce their valid ID Card, which shows the acronym for their International Organization, and their Passport containing a valid Acceptance issued to them by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

A foreign State or consular post headed by a career officer may register a vehicle in the name of that State or post by providing a letter, on the letterhead of the consular post, signed by the Head of the post, confirming that the foreign State or consular post is the owner or lessee of that vehicle. In addition, when attending the ICBC office, the person who licences the vehicle will need to produce their valid ID Card and their Passport containing a valid Acceptance issued to them by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

NOTE: An honorary consular officer cannot obtain foreign representative licence plates for a vehicle registered in the name of a Foreign State or Consular Post.

Other Offices may register a vehicle in the name of that office by providing a letter, on the letterhead of the office, signed by the Head of the office, confirming that the office is the owner or lessee of that vehicle. In addition, when attending the ICBC office, the person who licences the vehicle will need to produce their valid ID Card, which shows the acronym for their Office, and their Passport containing a valid Acceptance issued to them by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

A foreign representative or an accredited dependant of a foreign representative, who is a national of another country, may register a vehicle in their name by producing their valid ID Card issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and their Passport containing a valid Acceptance issued to them by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The numbers on the ID Card and Acceptance must match.

*New* An honorary consular officer wishing to obtain a special 'HC' plate in British Columbia must first obtain a "Letter of Entitlement" from the federal Office of Protocol via the supervising foreign mission. When officially requesting this letter of entitlement, foreign missions must provide the year, make and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of each vehicle. The honorary consular officer must subsequently present this letter of entitlement in person at an ICBC office, along with a valid Canadian Passport or a valid British Columbia Driver’s Licence. Only one vehicle owned or leased by an honorary consular officer will be eligible to have the special plates — any other vehicle will have to be licensed with a regular British Columbia plate. The vehicle being licensed with the special plates must be registered or leased in the personal name of the honorary Consular Officer.”

An Honorary consular officer who holds a valid White Card should present such card in lieu of the "Letter of Entitlement".

4.2.2 Ontario (National Capital Region, Greater Toronto Area and Elsewhere): Applicants2, where registering their vehicles for the first time, must present the following documents:

  • the original ID Card (two ID Cards if joint registration)
  • the “entitlement form” issued by the Office of Protocol
  • the original Ontario vehicle insurance policy3
  • the original bill of sale for all vehicles, whether purchased new or used
  • signed transfer of ownership (original) if the vehicle is purchased from a private vendor
  • Used Vehicle Information Package is required if the vehicle is purchased from a private vendor
  • proof of safety check if the vehicle was registered under a previous owner or if the vehicle was previously registered in another jurisdiction
  • proof of the emissions test completed under the compulsory Drive Clean Program (consult Drive Clean or call 1–888–758–2999)
  • Canada Border Services Agency Vehicle Import Form – Form 1 if the vehicle has been imported4
  • the original documentation of the last registration translated in one of Canada’s official languages, if the vehicle has been imported

For additional information concerning regulatory requirements and specific issues, Missions should contact MTO at: 613–580–2929 (in Ottawa) or 416–585–7412 (in Toronto).

4.3 When can vehicle owners obtain their vehicle sticker renewals and what documents are required?

4.3.1 British Columbia:
Before the expiry of the validation sticker and vehicle insurance (normally on an annual basis from the date of the first registration of the vehicle), ICBC will send a renewal notice to the registered owner or lessee of a vehicle. This document can be taken to any ICBC Autoplan broker in British Columbia to obtain a new validation sticker and to renew the basic vehicle insurance. If a renewal of the AirCare test certificate is required, notification will also be mailed to the registered owner or lessee of the vehicle.

All outstanding traffic and parking fines must be paid before vehicle validation stickers and insurance will be renewed.

4.3.2 Ontario (National Capital Region, Greater Toronto Area and Elsewhere): MTO will generally process requests for renewal of licence plates between November 15th and December 31st of each year. Such renewals are mandatory. Applicants must, at renewal time, present the following documents at the locations designated under 4.1.2 and 4.1.3 only:

  • the original ID Card (two ID Cards if joint registration)
  • the original Ontario vehicle insurance policy
  • the original vehicle permit for a vehicle already in Ontario
  • the original licence renewal application form completed by hand and signed by the registrant of the vehicle
  • an odometer reading for each vehicle, in kilometers5
  • every two years, proof of the emissions test completed under the compulsory Drive Clean Program (consult Drive Clean or call 1–888–758–2999)

In addition, applicants must have paid all outstanding fines incurred under provincial highway traffic laws and other applicable municipal by–laws regulating highway traffic. MTO will not process requests for renewals if such fines are unpaid.6 Fines can be paid at renewal time by credit card or cash only.

4.4 How can vehicle owners replace a lost, stolen or damaged plate?

4.4.1 British Columbia:
Owners of red and white licence plates are required to report the loss or theft of a licence plate to the local police as soon as the disappearance is discovered. The RCMP Protective Services Section is also to be advised at 604–264–2988.

Application for a new red and white plate would then be required as noted in 4.1.1. If one of the old plates remains, it must be returned to ICBC, at the North Vancouver p, when application for a new set of plates is made. If only one licence plate is damaged, both plates of the set must be returned.

4.4.2 Ontario (National Capital Region):
Owners of vehicles with red licence plates are required to report the loss/theft of a licence plate to police authorities as soon as the disappearance is discovered. A report and occurrence number will be generated and provided to the individual. A request for the replacement of licence plates, along with a copy of the police report, must then be submitted as soon as possible to the Office of Protocol of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada which will subsequently issue a new “entitlement form” (in Ottawa only), following which the applicant must present the following to the issuing authority specified under 4.1.2:

  • the original ID Card (two ID Cards if joint registration)
  • the “entitlement form”
  • the police reporting occurrence number
  • the name of the insurance company
  • the vehicle permit (plate and vehicle portion)
  • the “replacement declaration” filled out by the owner (if either plate is stolen)

4.4.3 Ontario (Greater Toronto Area and Elsewhere): Same as above. Applicants must submit their “replacement declaration” to the authority specified under 4.1.3.

5. Fees

5.1 British Columbia: a reduced annual licence fee of $12 will be charged for vehicle licences registered to or leased by international organizations, by consular posts headed by career officers, by other offices headed by an accredited foreign national, and by accredited foreign representatives and their dependents who are foreign nationals. Licence plates for honorary consular officers will have the non–discounted licence fee applied at the time of licensing or licence renewal.

Vehicle insurance must be purchased before licence plates and a validation sticker will be issued.

5.2 Ontario (National Capital Region, Greater Toronto Area and Elsewhere): most foreign representatives are exempt from paying the fees normally applicable for processing a new request for a licence plate or its renewal. However, some reciprocal measures are in effect. For additional information, contact the Manager (Privileges and Immunities). See section 9.

6. Exclusions and Special Cases

Nothing in this document is intended to be construed as diminishing or weakening the right of the relevant Canadian authorities (federal and provincial) to waive the policy requirement stated under 3.1 in the event that the Government of Canada finds it necessary to discharge more efficiently its international obligation to ensure the security for the proper functioning of any foreign mission, consular post, international organization or other office in Canada and the protection of its representatives.

7. End or Change of Status, and Definitive Departure from Canada

The Department continues to rely on the collaboration of Heads of Mission to ensure that licence plates7 are promptly returned to the relevant provincial authorities upon completion of assignment and/or when the owner of a vehicle bearing special plates is no longer entitled to diplomatic, consular or official status.

8. Impaired and Careless Driving

Incidents of impaired and careless driving and, more broadly, all driving incidents that endanger the public, including members of the diplomatic community, remain a serious concern to the Government of Canada and a serious matter from the perspective of public safety. The Department is confident that Heads of Mission share this concern and will continue to ensure that accredited foreign representatives and their family members conduct themselves in the manner expected, respecting the law and the privileges extended to them.

Source: Impaired Driving Policy Circular Note XDC–0427 of March 14, 2001

9. Enquiries

For interpretation and application of this directive, foreign missions should contact the following individuals at the Office of Protocol of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade:

Primary Contact:

Manager, Accreditation and Registrar
613–944–0096

By email: xdc@international.gc.ca

Other contacts:

Manager, Privileges and Immunities
613–944–1159

Deputy Director, Privileges, Immunities and Accreditation
613–944–5386

RCMP Security and Safety Liaison Officer
613–992–8055

In addition, in British Columbia, for information about the Province’s Foreign Representative License Plate Program, foreign representatives may contact:

Office of Protocol
Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat
PO Box 9422 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9V1
Tel.: 250–387–1616
Fax.: 250–356–2814
E–mail: protocol@gov.bc.ca

In Ontario, the Office of International Relations and Protocol of the Government of Ontario ensures liaison with the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (Toronto Region) and can be reached at:

Office of International Relations and Protocol
Ministry of Economic Development and Trade
1075 Bay Street, Suite 830
Toronto, ON M5S 2B1
Tel.: 416–325–8515
Fax.: 416–325–8550

In Québec, in order to obtain information and attestations relating to foreign representatives’ driver’s licences and licence plates, the following office should be contacted:

Protocole du gouvernement du Québec
Service de la correspondance officielle, des privilèges et immunités
Édifice Hector–Fabre
1er étage
525 boulevard René–Lévesque Est
Québec, QC G1R 5R9
Tel.: 418–649–2346
Fax.: 418–649–2657


1 The expression “international organization” refers to an intergovernmental organization covered under the provisions of the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

2 Applicants not only refer to foreign representatives and their accredited dependants, but to foreign missions, international organizations and other offices wishing to register a motor vehicle for their official fleet. As per 3.1 all official vehicles in Ontario must bear special red plates, unless otherwise stated to the sending State.

3 In Ontario, all vehicles, including those of foreign representatives and their family members, must be insured through an Ontario based private company. For further details, consult the MTO website.

4 Please refer to sections 18–23 of the Canada Border Services Agency Memorandum D21–1–1 (Customs Privileges for Diplomatic Missions, Consular Posts and International Organizations).

5 The odometer information is considered an indicator of the use of the vehicle, its wear and tear, condition and value. The information collected by MTO also helps deter fraud, such as odometer tampering. Customers who are required to convert odometer information from miles to kilometres should multiply the total number of miles by a factor of 1.61.

6 See circular note XDC–2070 of April 22, 1986.

7 In Ontario, the “permit plate portion” must also be returned.

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Date Modified:
2012-10-17