(see Vehicle Registration)
Road Licensing & Safety Division (RLSD)
Department of Transportation
Government of the Northwest Territories
5015 49 Street
P.O. Box 1320
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2L9
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
5010 – 49th Avenue (Henry Larsen Building)
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2R3
(867) 669-5100 | www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/detach/nt-eng.htm
(see Vehicle Registration)
When a person purchases or acquires a motor vehicle already registered in the Territories, the person has 30 days to obtain a new certificate of registration.
Where a certificate of registration expires and the person named in the expired certificate has transferred ownership of the motor vehicle by a voluntary act, the person named in the expired certificate shall immediately remove the license plate attached to the motor vehicle, and sign the notice of transfer on the certificate of registration for the motor vehicle and give this notice to the new owner; and the new owner shall, within 10 days of becoming the owner, submit the notice of transfer to the RLSD.
(see Vehicle Registration)
An owner must provide proof of a residential address in the Northwest Territories, photo identification, proof of ownership, and satisfactory proof of insurance for the vehicle.
Currently, the RLSD will not issue a certificate of registration for a motor vehicle if there are more than 90 days before the date of expiration unless there are extenuating circumstances.
An owner of a motor vehicle that is registered under the laws of another jurisdiction must obtain a certificate of registration for the vehicle by the day that vehicle has been in the Northwest Territories for 91 consecutive days regardless of whether the vehicle is operated on a highway.
A non-dealer certificate of registration expires on the earliest of the following days: (1) the day specified by the RLSD in the certificate; (2) the day that the vehicle is transferred to a new owner; or (3) 60 days after the death of the person named in the certificate, or, where the owner is a corporation, 90 days after the dissolution of the corporation.
The certificate of registration and proof of insurance must be carried in the vehicle.
The Registrar can now extend the validity of a driver’s license by up to three months or renew a driver’s license one year in advance of expiry.
A person is not required to register a vehicle in the Northwest Territories when: (1) the owner of the motor vehicle has complied with the laws of a jurisdiction other than the Northwest Territories respecting registration, license plates, and validation stickers; and (2) the vehicle has been in the Northwest Territories for a period not exceeding 90 consecutive days, or the owner of the vehicle is temporarily in the Northwest Territories for the purpose of attending an educational institution as a student in an exchange program or other approved educational program.
Vehicle renewal applications are mailed approximately 45 days prior to the expiration of the vehicle registration.
The vehicle registration expires the last day of the month shown on the registration document.
The application for renewal includes the registration fee and any additional fees owed to the government such as outstanding fines or reinstatement fees.
Vehicles can be registered online.
No territory-wide emissions inspection requirement.
No person may operate, on a highway, a vehicle that is in such a condition that the operation of the vehicle is likely to endanger the safety of the driver, a passenger in the vehicle, or the public.
An officer may direct a person operating a vehicle on a highway to stop and park the vehicle to inspect the vehicle and any vehicle safety item to determine if the vehicle and item comply with the law.
No person may operate a vehicle unless it complies with the applicable Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Title Fee: N/A
Registration Fee: $49.00 -$107.00 for 7-18 months
Title Fee: N/A
Registration Fee: $33.00 for 12mos.or less; $44.00 for over 12mos.
Plate Fee: $23.00
Registration Fee: $23.00
Driver’s License Fee: $22.60
Title Fee: N/A
Special Plates: $170.15
The license plate must be attached to the rear bumper of a motor vehicle, to the rear fender of a motorcycle, or to the back of a trailer at a position not lower than the rear axle.
Commercial vehicles having a gross weight over 4500 kg must have the licence plate attached to the front bumper.
Personalized license plates are available.
Validation stickers (registration stickers) are no longer required.
If a person sells or otherwise transfers a motor vehicle, the person named in the certificate of registration for the motor vehicle may transfer the license plate to another vehicle that he or she owns.
When a person transfers a license plate to another vehicle owned by that person, the person must advise the RLSD of numbers or letters on the license plate attached to the vehicle and obtain a new certificate of registration for the vehicle within 14 days of the transfer.
A person who has not been issued a driver’s license and wishes to obtain one or wishes to increase the privileges associated with his or her existing license must pass a written and a practical driving examination depending on the class of license being sought.
The Northwest Territories has a system of graduated licensing for new drivers. A drivers license (Class 7) can be obtained at age 15 and must be held for a minimum of 12 months suspension free. A probationary driver’s license (Class 5P) can be obtained upon successful completion of the Learner’s stage, and must be held for a minimum of 12 months suspension-free. An unrestricted license can be obtained at 17 at the earliest.
A person must be at least 18 years of age to hold a Class 1, 2, 3, or 4 driver’s license.
A person is not required to have a driver’s license issued by the Northwest Territories if the person has a valid driver’s license issued under the laws of a jurisdiction in Canada or the United States that authorizes the person to operate the class of motor vehicle he or she is operating, and the person (1) has been a resident of the Northwest Territories for less than 30 days, (2) is not a resident of the Northwest Territories and has been in the Northwest Territories for less than 90 consecutive days, or (3) is not a resident and is in the Northwest Territories for the purpose of attending an educational institution or participating in an exchange program or other recognized educational program.
A person who is not a resident of Canada or the United States, who does not remain in the Northwest Territories for more than 12 consecutive months, and who holds a valid international driving permit, in conjunction with a valid driver’s license from their country of residence, is not required to obtain a driver’s license. An international driving license cannot be used to operate commercially in the Northwest Territories.
A person holding a driver’s license issued by another jurisdiction may apply for a driver’s license issued by the Northwest Territories upon surrender of his or her existing license. The Northwest Territories has reciprocity with the other provinces and territories within Canada, Germany, the Isle of Man, and the United States, thereby waiving the testing requirement. Verification from the individuals previous jurisdiction confirming the individuals driver’s licence class and eligibility is required to accompany the individuals drivers licence.
When operating a motor vehicle on a highway, a person must carry his or her driver’s license with them.
A person holding a driver’s license must notify the RLSD within 15 days of a change of name or address.
A person who (1) has a valid driver’s license, (2) a valid driver’s license that has expired for a period of less than 2 years, or (3) a driver’s license that has been cancelled for certain reasons for less than 1 year may apply to the RLSD for a new driver’s license of the same class as the person previously held or for a class with fewer privileges. Individuals that have a drivers licence that has been expired or cancelled for over two years will be required to retest.
The RLSD will not issue a driver’s license to a person named on a valid driver’s license if there is more than 1 year before the date of expiration unless the RLSD is satisfied that there are circumstances that justify issuing a license earlier than 1 year before the expiration date.
Driver’s licenses are issued for a 1-year, 3-year, or 5-year term. The Registrar can extend the validity of a driver’s licence by up to three months or renew a driver’s licence one year in advance of expiry.
The Registrar may refuse to issue a driver’s licence for non-payment of fines under the Motor Vehicles Act. In addition, the Registrar may be required to suspend a driver’s licence for unpaid fines under the Maintenance Orders Enforcement Act.
Class 1 permits the operation of semitrailers and tractor trailers; any vehicle in Class 2, 3, 4, or 5; and any vehicle in Class 6 while the driver is supervised and learning to operate it.
Class 2 permits the operation of a bus of any seating capacity; a vehicle or any combination of vehicles in Class 3, 4, or 5; any combination of vehicles without air brakes where the towed vehicles exceed a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 4,500 kg; and any vehicle in Class 1 or 6 while the driver is supervised and learning to operate it.
Class 3 permits the operation of a single vehicle with 3 or more axles; any combination of vehicles where the towed vehicles in the combination do not exceed a GVWR of 4,500 kg; any combination of vehicles without air brakes where the towed vehicles exceed a GVWR of 4,500 kg; a vehicle or any combination of vehicles in Class 4 or 5; and any vehicle in Class 1, 2, or 6 while the driver is supervised and learning to operate it.
Class 4 permits the operation of a bus having a seating capacity not exceeding 24 passengers; a taxi; an ambulance; any vehicle in Class 5; and any vehicle in Class 1, 2, 3, or 6 while the driver is supervised and learning to operate it.
Class 5 is the standard license for passenger vehicles. Class 5 permits the operation of a 2-axle vehicle other than a motorcycle, bus, taxi, or an ambulance; any combination of a 2-axle towing vehicle and towed vehicle where the towing and towed vehicles do not exceed a GVWR of 4,500 kg; a recreational vehicle; a moped; certain construction vehicles with no more than 2 axles; and any vehicle in Class 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 while the driver is learning to operate it.
Class 6 permits the operation of a motorcycle and any vehicle in Class 5 while the driver is supervised learning to operate it.
Class 7 permits the operation of any vehicle in Class 5 or 6 while the driver is supervised and learning to operate it. A person must be at least 15 years old to have this type of license.
Handheld cell phone use and texting messaging while driving are banned.
Citizen band radio channel 9 is the most commonly used channel on the Highway System and is monitored for emergency calls.
No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.
Canadian federal law prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (.08 BAC). Northwest Territories sets an illegal per se limit of .05 BAC. Violating this law could result in temporary loss of driver’s license.
Northwest Territories sets the legal drinking age at 19.
It is illegal to fail to submit to testing or an evaluation for impaired driving.
Northwest Territories does not require the use of ignition interlocks for impaired driving offenders but offenders have the option of using them.
A driver must reduce his speed to half the posted speed limit when passing within 120m of a stopped emergency or enforcement vehicle with lights flashing.
Seat belts are required for all drivers and passengers over age 15.
No person may ride and no driver may permit a person to ride in the box of a truck unless the truck is being operated within a municipality or settlement the has a by-law permitting a person to do so and is travelling at less than 25 km/h; or is a vehicle engaged in highway maintenance, an enforcement or emergency vehicle, part of an approved parade, or a garbage disposal vehicle being used to collect garbage.
All children weighing less than 18 kg are required to be in a child restraint system when in a motor vehicle. Children weighing less than 9 kg must be secured in a rearward facing child restraint system.
When a driver approaches a railway crossing and a warning device or flag operator indicates that a train is approaching, or a train that is approaching is visible or is emitting an audible signal and it is not possible to cross the railway crossing in safety, the driver must stop his vehicle not less than 5 meters from the nearest rail of the railway. The driver must not proceed across the railway crossing until it is safe to do so.
No driver may drive through, around, or under a crossing gate or barrier at a railway crossing when the gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed.
Where a stop sign has been erected at a railway crossing, a driver must stop his or her vehicle not less than 5 meters from the nearest rail of the railway and must not proceed until it is safe to do so.
A driver approaching a railway crossing must listen and look in both directions of the crossing for an approaching train.
No driver shall turn his or her vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction if he or she is driving on a railway crossing or within 30 m of a railway crossing.
A driver, on meeting a school bus that is headed in the same or opposite direction as the driver and has its flashing lights in use, must stop his or her vehicle before it reaches the bus and not proceed until the flashing lights are no longer in use.
Bumpers on passenger cars must be positioned on the vehicle so that the center part of the bumper is not more than 550 mm or less than 380 mm above the road surface. On vehicles other than passenger cars, the lowest part of the bumper must be not more than 750 mm above the road surface. Bumper must have a front vertical surface of at least 100 mm and least to the original manufacturer’s track width of the vehicle.
Headlights are required to be used at all times.
A vehicle that is travelling at less than 40 km/h, owing to vehicle impairment, must have its hazard lights activated.
Tire chains are permitted for icy or snowy road conditions.
Studded tires are permitted.
Windshields must be free from a coating of sunscreen or reflective material other than that applied by the vehicle manufacturer.
No person may operate a vehicle on a highway that is equipped with a cathode ray tube display screen or similar viewing screen if the screen is located in front of the driver’s seat or is visible to the driver while the driver is operating the vehicle. Control and navigation video displays may be used in a hands free manner. A backing up video display may be used only when the vehicle is in reverse gear.
Radar Detectors are prohibited.
No person may operate, on a highway, any motor vehicle with a sticker, sign, poster, or other non-transparent material placed over, or affixed to the windshield or a side or a rear window that unduly obstructs the driver’s view of the highway or an intersecting highway.
No passenger may ride on a motorcycle unless the motorcycle is designed and equipped with a seat to carry more than one person, and the person rides on that seat, or the passenger rides in a side car that is attached to the motorcycle.
No person may drive or ride on a motorcycle unless the person is wearing a helmet.
No person may operate a motorcycle unless it is equipped with at least one headlight capable of clearly illuminating objects at a distance of 100 meters between sunset and sunrise.
No person shall operate a motorcycle with only one means of application of the service brake unless the means applies to both wheels on the motorcycle at the same time.
No person may operate a motorcycle unless it is equipped with one red taillight at the rear of the vehicle.
No person may operate a motorcycle designed to carry passengers unless it is equipped with footpegs for the passenger.
No individual can ride on a motorcycle unless they can reach the floorboard or foot pegs.
A motorcycle must be equipped with a drive chain, drive belt or driveshaft guard to prevent injury to the operator and passenger from moving parts.
A motorcycle must be equipped with one stop light at the rear of the vehicle.
A driver of a motorcycle shall not permit a passenger to ride on the motorcycle if the passenger cannot reach the foot-pegs or floorboards of the motorcycle.
A Class 6 license permits the operation of a motorcycle. Any other class of license may be used with supervision while learning to operate.
A person learning to operate a motorcycle may be unaccompanied if an instructor with a minimum of two years of experience operating a motorcycle, follows the person in or on another vehicle, and keeps the person in view.
No motorcycle with an engine displacement of 90cc or less is permitted on a highway outside of a municipality or with a speed limit of 50 km/h or more.
A person learning to operate a motorcycle may not operate a motorcycle between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am or in a speed zone of 70 km/h or greater.
No person may operate a vehicle unless the muffler on the exhaust system is designed to prevent unnecessary engine noise.
At least a Class 7 driver’s licence is needed to learn to operate a moped.
Maximum of 1 boat or general utility trailer may be towed behind passenger or pleasure vehicles. Total length of both not to exceed 21 meters (69 feet).
No person may operate a trailer manufactured before 1985 unless the service brakes apply to the wheels on the opposite ends of 1 axle, or a trailer manufactured after 1984 unless the brakes apply to the wheels on opposite ends of each axle.
A towing vehicle must be equipped with a coupling device in the form of a 5thwheel hitch, pintle hook, drawbar hitch, ball hitch, or other approved coupling device that is designed to support the trailer the person intends to tow.
Any coupling device, other than a 5th-wheel hitch, must be equipped with an alternate coupling device that is designed to support the same weight as the main coupling device.
No person may operate a vehicle equipped with a coupling device unless it is securely mounted to the frame of the vehicle, has no missing or ineffective fasteners, and is free of cracks or breaks in the assembly.
No person may operate a trailer less than 760 mm wide unless it is equipped with 1 red taillight and 1 red stop light at the rear of the vehicle.
No person shall operate a motorcycle or a trailer less than 760 mm wide unless it is equipped with the following:
A person may operate a trailer less than 1.8 m long without front side marker lights.
No person may operate a vehicle unless it has at least 2 mirrors attached to the vehicle each of which gives the operator a clear view at least 60 meters behind the vehicle.
Unless otherwise posted, 50km/hr in a municipality, 90 km/hr outside a municipality.
The certificate of registration for a trailer must be kept in the trailer or in the vehicle towing the trailer.
No person may occupy and no driver whose motor vehicle is pulling a trailer may permit a person to occupy a trailer while it is being moved on a highway.
No person operating a vehicle of 4,500 kg GVWR or less may tow more than 1 vehicle.
No person shall operate a vehicle or trailer unless it has a vehicle identification number stamped into, embossed or imprinted clearly on a part of the vehicle not normally removed.
Crashes resulting in injury, death, or damages to all property involved being more than C$2,000 are required to be immediately reported.
No person may operate or park a motor vehicle on a highway unless there is a motor vehicle liability policy in force that meets minimum requirements in terms of liability coverage.
Minimum third part liability coverage is $200,000.
The owner of a vehicle is liable for damages for injury, loss or damage to persons or property caused by the negligence or improper conduct of the driver of the vehicle in the operation of the vehicle on a highway and the driver is liable to the same extent as the owner. This does not apply if the vehicles is being operated without the consent of the owner.
There are two weigh stations in the Northwest Territories: one in Enterprise and one six miles south of Inuvik. There are also two self-weigh stations located in Fort Smith and Hay River. Highway Transport Officers are equipped with portable scale units.
No territory-wide bicycle helmet law requirement.
U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. from Canada by land or sea are required to present proper travel documents according to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Proof of citizenship is required for travel to Canada by land or sea. A U.S. passport is required for travel by air to Canada and to the U.S. Permanent residents who are not citizens should carry their Alien Registration Receipt Card.
All children must have their own travel documents. In lieu of a U.S. passport or passport card, U.S. children under 16 traveling to and from Canada by land or sea may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization Certificate. If the parents are separated or divorced, the parent crossing the border should have proof of custody or a letter from the other parent. Persons under 18 years of age who are not accompanied by a parent should bring a letter from their parent or guardian giving them permission to cross the border.
A visitor is permitted to bring a reasonable amount of personal effects, a reasonable supply of food, and a full tank of gas. “Reasonable” means enough for personal use during the length of stay in Canada. Any unreasonable amounts are subject to duty.
A visitor must have a rabies vaccination certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian to bring dogs or cats into Canada.
The legal drinking age in the Northwest Territories is 19. Open containers are not permitted.
Illegal per se BAC level is .08. Drivers charged with an alcohol-related offence will face an automatic 90-day suspension or disqualification of their driving privileges. If the individual holds a valid Northwest Territories’ Drivers License, a 7-day temporary permit is granted before the suspension begins. Temporary driving privileges are intended to allow time for drivers to get their affairs in order.
An administrative license suspension of 30 days may also apply for the “warn” BAC level of .05.
In addition, an officer can also take the driver’s license and suspend a person for 24 hours if the officer believes on reasonable grounds that the person operating, or in care or control of a vehicle is impaired by alcohol, drugs or fatigue.