When you buy a pre-owned vehicle and plan to drive it on the road in Nova Scotia, you must go through the registration process within 30 days. This involves putting the vehicle in your name and obtaining licence plates.

With the right timing, you can purchase and register a car in Nova Scotia on the same day. But first, you must know all the steps so you can get all the paperwork and necessary appointments lined up. 

We'll cover all this and more below.

How to Register a Car in Nova Scotia 

Vehicle registration in Nova Scotia proves ownership of a vehicle and is required if you want to get licence plates or later sell the vehicle. Clear-cut steps make the registration process relatively simple in Nova Scotia. 

1. Complete a Pre-Sale Vehicle Inspection

Provincial law for Nova Scotia requires all private-party used vehicle sales have a pre-sale safety inspection no more than 30 days before the sale. The seller should complete this and provide you with a Motor Vehicle Inspection Number. 

If the vehicle is coming from outside Nova Scotia and is not from one of the Atlantic provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador — the new owner must obtain a Motor Vehicle Inspection Number sticker within 30 days of it entering the province and before registering it.

2. Receive Completed and Signed Certificate of Registration

To start the registration process, the person you're buying the vehicle from or the registered owner must sign the "Seller" area on the back of the Certificate of Registration (Transfer of Ownership). The seller will also complete the "Transfer of Title Certificate of Sale (Part 1)" section. This acts as the bill of sale for the vehicle.

The seller must also complete the "notice of sale" section on the Certificate of Registration and return it to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). This notifies the provincial government that the original owner authorized the sale of the vehicle to you and relieves the owner of any duties attached to the vehicle, such as taxes and liabilities. 

This signed document acts as proof of ownership for the buyer. At this time, the vehicle is considered registered in the purchaser's name for 30 days. If the buyer has licence plates in their name, these can act as a temporary permit. The owner can affix the plates and legally drive the vehicle for 30 days.

When receiving this document, verify the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the documents matches the VIN on the vehicle.

3. Obtain Car Insurance

Contact an insurance company to obtain at least the $500,000 in liability auto insurance required in Nova Scotia. Unlike some other provinces in Canada, like British Columbia, auto insurance in Nova Scotia is an open market, and there is no government-run insurer.

4. Complete a Statement of Insurance

While completing the registration, you also want to receive your passenger vehicle permit -- licence plates -- so you can drive the vehicle. This process begins with completing a Statement of Insurance, which outlines your insurance company, policy number, and effective and expiration dates.

5. Complete an Application for Certificate of Registration

The buyer must complete an Application for Certificate of Registration within 30 days of purchasing the vehicle. This will include a tax declaration. The buyer will generally only complete Part 1 and Part 4 of the application.

The only time the buyer needs to complete Part 3 is when the buyer and the person who will own the licence plates are different. Part 2 is only for vehicles purchased through a licensed car dealership.   

6. Submit an Application for Certificate of Registration and Associated Fees

Mail or hand deliver the completed application, completed Certificate of Registration, the applicable sales tax, transfer and registration fees, and vehicle permit fee to the nearest RMV. If you plan to complete this process in person, you must book an appointment with the RMV through Access Nova Scotia.

Current registration fees (as of September 3, 2021) are $13.20, and the vehicle permit fee ranges from $143.30 to $276.50, depending on the vehicle's weight. 

When purchasing from a licensed dealership sales tax is calculated at 15% of the purchase price. All privately purchased vehicles are taxable at the rate of 15% based on the greater of the purchase price or Canadian Red Book value at the time of registration. If the vehicle was given as a gift from a family member, there will be no taxes. Accepted family members include:

  • Father
  • Mother
  • Son
  • Daughter
  • Step parents
  • Step child
  • Father-in-law
  • Mother-in-law
  • Son-in-law
  • Daughter-in-law
  • Spouse
  • Grandfather
  • Grandmother
  • Grandson
  • Granddaughter
  • Brother
  • Sister

Remember to also bring valid identification as noted on Nova Scotia's service page, such as your driver's licence, passport, citizenship card, etc.

7. Receive Registration and Vehicle Permit

If you hand in your documents to the RMV, you will receive your registration and licence plates immediately. If you applied via mail, you may have to wait two days for processing and several more days for transit time.

Get Your Next Vehicle at Clutch

Don't want to deal with the headache of bouncing from dealer to dealer or dealing with unreliable private sellers? Purchase your next vehicle from Clutch, Canada's first 100% online car-buying experience, and you can skip this runaround. 

You just sit back and wait for us to deliver your new vehicle. 

On top of extreme simplicity, you can also rest assured you're getting a quality pre-owned vehicle at Clutch. All our vehicles have been through a 210-point inspection and reconditioning process to ensure they're in top shape. We also include a six-month or 6,000-km limited warranty on all Clutch cars. 

And if you have a car you're looking to offload too, we can save you the hassle of selling it and the paperwork involved in that too by taking it as a trade-in. Get your preliminary trade-in estimate today and see if this is the right option for you.