Buying a used vehicle to drive on the roadways in the province of Nova Scotia requires you to complete the Nova Scotia vehicle registration process within 30 days. This process will transfer vehicle ownership to you and allow you to obtain licence plates. for the vehicle

It’s possible to purchase and complete the Nova Scotia vehicle registration on the same day with the right timing. But you must first know all the steps to line up all the required paperwork and appointments. 

We'll cover all this and more below.

How to Register a Car in Nova Scotia 

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

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 a Motor Vehicle Inspection (MVI) Number. 

Alternatively, the buyer may agree to obtain the motor vehicle inspection themselves. The buyer would obtain a letter from the Registry of Motor Vehicles stating they have 10 days from the date of sale to get the MVI.

A third option is to sell the vehicle and complete a “Sale of Vehicle Not Safety Approved” form. This allows the buyer to purchase the vehicle, but they won’t receive a vehicle permit until the MVI is complete in the buyer’s name.

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.

Some vehicles are exempt from the MVI, including:

  • Antique vehicles
  • Mobile homes in tow to retail sales outlets or permanent locations;
  • Vehicles that must display a “slow-moving vehicle” sign according to the Motor Vehicle Act;
  • Buses licensed as public passenger vehicles, except buses licensed as passenger vehicles
  • Vehicles with valid New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island inspections in the vehicle registrant’s name
  • Vehicles with a registered gross vehicle weight (GVW) exceeding 4,500 kg that bear a valid inspection from another Canadian jurisdiction in the vehicle registrant’s name.

2. Receive Completed and Signed Certificate of Registration

To start the Nova Scotia vehicle 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. Currently, the vehicle is 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 coverage 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 Nova Scotia vehicle 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 outlining your insurance company, policy number, and effective and expiry 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 application form will include a tax declaration. The buyer will generally only complete Part 1 and Part 4 of the application.

The buyer only needs to complete Part 3 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. To complete this process in person, you must book an appointment with the RMV through Access Nova Scotia.

Current Nova Scotia vehicle registration fees, known as “recording and/or transfer fees,” (as of March 8, 2023) are $13.20, and the vehicle permit fee ranges from $143.30 to $333.90, depending on the vehicle's weight. 

Nova Scotia calculates sales tax at 15% of the purchase price when you buy from a licensed dealership. All privately purchased vehicles are taxable at 15% of the greater of the purchase price or Canadian Red Book value at the time of registration. 

If the vehicle was a gift from a family member, there would 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 immediately receive your Nova Scotia vehicle registration and licence plates. If you applied via mail, you might 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 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 90-day or 6,000-km limited warranty on all Clutch cars. 

Do you have a car you're looking to offload? We can save you the hassle of selling it and the paperwork by taking it as a trade-in. Get your preliminary trade-in offer today and see if this is the right option.