Nova Scotia

Title Application

(see Vehicle Registration)

Title Transfer of Ownership

(see Vehicle Registration)

Titles for Mobile Homes

(see Vehicle Registration)

Registration Application

Unless an exemption is granted by law, every motor vehicle in Nova Scotia must be registered with the Department.

The application for a certificate of registration must be on a form prescribed by the Department. This form must contain the following information: the name and make of the vehicle; the vehicle’s serial number; any distinguishing marks on the vehicle; whether it is new or used; and any other information the Department requires.

When a vehicle is registered, the Department will issue the owner a permit which will include the license plate number, the name and address of the owner, a description of the registered vehicle, and anything else the Department determines is necessary.

There is no period of grace for late registration or plate renewal.

Registration for Non-Residents

A passenger motor vehicle owned by a non-resident who does not carry on business in Nova Scotia is exempt from registration for 90 days from the date that the vehicle was first operated in Nova Scotia. Only one 90-day exemption period is allowed in any registration year.

A passenger motor vehicle registered in the province of New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island is exempt from registration as long as the registered owner does not live in Nova Scotia, or if carrying passengers for compensation, as long as no passenger is taken on in Nova Scotia to be discharged in Nova Scotia.

A passenger vehicle owned by a non-resident and operated within Nova Scotia for the transportation of persons or goods for compensation is exempt from registration for 30 days from the date that the vehicle was first operated in Nova Scotia, provided no persons or goods are taken on in Nova Scotia. Only one 30 day exemption period is allowed in any registration year.

A non-resident who becomes a resident and who is the owner of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer must register his or her vehicle within 30 days of becoming a resident.

Military personnel on active duty in the province receive a 90-day extension of time for obtaining a vehicle registration.

Registration Type

Vehicle registrations are issued on a staggered system.

A vehicle registered expires on the date specified when the vehicle is registered.

Emissions Inspection

No province-wide emissions inspection requirements.

Safety Inspection

All motor vehicles must have a vehicle inspection from an approved vehicle inspection station.

Drivers visiting Nova Scotia from another jurisdiction may not drive a vehicle in Nova Scotia unless they follow the vehicle safety inspection protocols of the jurisdiction they are travelling from.

When a vehicle passes an inspection, it will be issued an approval sticker, which will then be placed on the vehicle’s windshield.

When a vehicle fails an inspection, a rejection sticker will be placed on the vehicle.  The necessary repairs must be made to the vehicle and the vehicle must be returned to an official testing station before the specified sticker expiration date.

A vehicle purchased outside of the province that is required to be registered in the province must be inspected at an official testing station in the province within 30 days of entering the province.

Inspections are generally required 30 days before the private sale of a vehicle.

Title and Registration Fees


Title Fee:$6.00

Registration Fee: $139.10- $324.20 (2 years) based on weight


Title Fee: N/A

Registration Fee: $44.75


Plate Fee: $5.25

Registration Fee: $11.86

Driver’s License Fee: $22.56

Title Fee: N/A

Special Plates: $96.57


Plate Disbursement

When a vehicle is registered, the Department must assign the vehicle number license plates. Two plates will be issued to a camper, farm truck, commercial fisherman, truck, service truck, self-powered miscellaneous equipment, a vehicle to bear firefighter plates, personalized plates, and antique plates. All other motor vehicles will be issued 1 number license plate.

Transfer of Plates

When a vehicle is transferred, plates originally assigned to the seller are to be removed from the vehicle. These plates may either be re-assigned to a new vehicle or returned to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for a refund on the unused portion.

Driver’s License Examination

The department shall examine every applicant for a driver’s license before it is issued.

The applicant shall be examined for physical and mental qualifications to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that will not jeopardize the safety of persons or property.

The department, in its discretion, may issue a driver’s license without examination, to any person of sufficient age to receive the license applied for who has a valid unrevoked license of like nature issued in another province or country under a law requiring the licensing and examination of drivers.

Graduated Drivers Licensing

Nova Scotia has a system of graduated licensing for newly licensed drivers.

A person must be 16 to obtain a learner’s permit. This permit must be held for 12 months unless a driver education course is taken; then it must only be held for 9 months.

Learner’s permit holders are not permitted to have passengers, except a supervisory driver with a valid license. Suspensions will delay graduation to the newly licensed driver stage by the minimum time requirement.

Once a road test has been successfully completed, the learner enters the newly licensed stage for a minimum of 2 years.

Conditions of the newly licensed stage are no more than 1 front-seat passenger unless accompanied by an experienced driver, no upgrade beyond a Class 5 driver’s license, and no driving between midnight and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by an experienced driver and without other passengers. Learner’s permit holders are required to maintain a blood alcohol level of zero and if this condition is broken, they are suspended a minimum of 6 months and must restart this phase of the program without any credit.

A newly licensed driver may apply for an exemption from the nighttime driving curfew for employment purposes. The driver must take the most direct route to and from work, and is not permitted to have any passengers in the vehicle.  The driver must carry proof of the exemption.

To graduate from the newly licensed stage, the driver must have completed two years’ experience as a licensed driver in Nova Scotia, or two years’ experience in another province or country.  The driver must successfully complete a 6-hour defensive driving course, or complete the full driver training course which consists of 25 hours of theory and 8 hours of driving time. A copy of the applicant’s graduation certificate must be provided, in person or by mail, to any Registrar of Motor Vehicles office for recording purposes. An unrestricted license can be obtained at 18 years and 3 months.

Drivers License Issuance/Application

A non-resident who is 16 years of age or older and has in his or her immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued by his or her home province or country, is permitted, without taking an exam, to drive a motor vehicle of a type or a class authorized by such a license for a period of 90 days from the date the non-resident first entered the province.

License includes a photograph, but not a social security or social insurance number.

The department shall not issue a driver’s license to a person under 18 unless the application for license is signed by a parent or guardian having custody of the applicant, the employer of the applicant if the mother and father are no longer living and there is no guardian, or the spouse of the applicant if the spouse is over 18.

Drivers License Renewal

A driver’s license must be renewed every 5 years.

Types of Drivers Licenses

Class 1 permits the operation of semitrailer and tractor-trailer combinations and all type of vehicles in Classes 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8.

Class 2 permits the operation of buses having a seating capacity of more than 24 passengers, and all types of vehicles in Classes 3, 4, 5, and 8. Class 2 permit holders may not drive Class 1 vehicles (except as a learner).

Class 3 permits the operation of any single vehicle in excess of 14,000 kg and any combination of vehicles other than semitrailer or tractor-trailer combinations in excess of 14,000 kg Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) where the towed vehicle in that combination does not exceed a GVW of 4,500 kg, and vehicles in Classes 4, 5, and 8. Class 3 permit holders may not drive Class 1 or 2 vehicles (except as a learner), or public passenger vehicles (unless 19 years of age or older).

Class 4 permits the operation of buses under 24 passengers, taxis, ambulances, and all types of vehicles in Classes 5 and 8. Class 4 permit holders may not drive Class 1, 2, or 3 vehicles (except as a learner), or public passenger vehicles (unless 19 years of age or older).

Class 5 permits the operation of any single vehicle not in excess of 14,000 kg GVW, any combination of vehicles other than semitrailer or tractor-trailer combinations not exceeding 14,000 kg and the towed vehicle in that combination not exceeding a GVW of 4,500 kg, and Class 8 vehicles. Class 5 does not permit the operation of Class 1, 2, 3, or 4 vehicles (except as a learner).

Class 6 permits the operation of motorcycle and motor-driven cycles and Class 8 vehicles. Class 6 operators may be restricted to the operation of motor-driven cycles (mopeds) and motorcycles 100 cc and under.

Class 7 is a learner’s license which is valid only while holder is accompanied by a licensed driver in the class of vehicle being operated except Class 6 or 8. Class 7 does not permit the operation of Class 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 vehicles (except as a learner).

Class 8 permits the operation of farm tractors. It does not permit the operation of any other class of vehicle except as a learner at age 16.

The following endorsements may be added to a driver’s license to allow the driver to operate additional vehicles or combinations of vehicles when the respective minimum requirements have been met: valid for any motorcycle or motor-driven cycle; valid for a school bus; valid for any motorcycle and any school bus; valid only for a motorcycle with engine size of 100 cc or less or motor-driven cycle; valid for school bus and motorcycle with engine size of 100 cc or less or motor-driven cycle; valid for a vehicle equipped with air brakes; Valid for a farm tractor and trailer, if the combined weight of the vehicle combination weighs 14 000 kg or less.

Distracted Driving

It is illegal to use a handheld cellular phone or engage in text messaging while operating a vehicle on a highway.


No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.

Impaired 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). Nova Scotia sets an illegal per se limit of .05 BAC. Violating this law could result in temporary loss of driver’s license.

Nova Scotia sets the legal drinking age at 19.

It is illegal to fail to submit to testing or an evaluation for impaired driving.

Nova Scotia requires the use of ignition interlocks for repeat and “high risk” impaired driving offenders, though other offenders have the option of using them.

Move Over Law

Drivers passing a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights must decrease speed to the speed limit or 60 kph, whichever is less, and must vacate the lane closet to the stopped vehicle, if safe to do so.

Seat Belts

All occupants must wear a seat belt or an age-appropriate child restraint seat.

Except for employees engaged in the necessary discharge of a duty passengers are not permitted to be transported in space intended for merchandise unless the trucks have secure seating accommodation and all such persons are seated while being so transported.

Child Passenger Safety

Children under 1 year of age and under 10 kg. (22 lbs.) must be in a rear-facing child safety seat. Children under 18 kg. (40 lbs.) must be in a child restraint system. Children over 40 lbs. but less than 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) or under 9 years old must be placed in a booster seat. Safety belts may be used at age 9 or above 145 cm.

A vehicle registered in a jurisdiction which does not require the use of a child restraint system for a toddler must secure the toddler in a lap belt, at a minimum if a lap belt is available to that child.

Railroad Crossing

Whenever a person driving approaches a railway crossing that gives a clearly visible signal warning of an oncoming train, the driver must stop before crossing the railroad tracks.

A driver must not enter a highway or railway crossing unless there is enough space on the other side to accommodate the vehicle without obstructing the oncoming railroad trains.

School Buses

The driver of a vehicle must stop the vehicle before passing a school bus that is exhibiting flashing red lights while on or near a highway. This vehicle must remain stopped until the school bus proceeds.

When a school bus exhibits flashing amber lights, the driver of a motor vehicle that intends to pass the school bus must proceed with caution.

Bumper Height

All passenger cars and station wagons must be equipped with a front and rear horizontal bumper of the same type and design as originally equipped.

All bumpers shall be securely attached to a vehicle and not worn, torn, damaged, or protruding to an extent likely to cause injury.

The top of the bumper measured from the ground must be at least 14 inches high. The bottom of the bumper measured from the ground must be no more than 22 inches high.

Headlight Use

Headlights are required to be used at all times.

Hazard Light Use

Hazard light use is permitted while driving.

Tire Chains

Tire chains of reasonable proportions are permissible upon any vehicle when required for safety because of snow, ice or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to slide or skid.

Studded Tires

Studded tires are permitted Oct. 15 – April 30.

Glass/Window Tinting

Window tinting is allowed as long as the windshield or window to the direct right or left of the driver’s seat was tinted during the manufacture of the glass, and not applied afterward.

A windshield may be equipped with clear un-tinted frost shields.

A windshield or window must not be tinted in a way that prevents the safe operation of the vehicle.

Video Screens

No vehicle shall be equipped with any means of receiving a television broadcast that is located at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat or that is visible to the driver while operating the vehicle.

Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are prohibited.

Windshield Stickers

No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway when there is any sign, poster, or other nontransparent material upon the windshield other than a certificate, sticker, or other device required by the province.  The inspection sticker must be placed on the lower left-hand interior of the windshield.

Stickers allowed: an identification sticker on the upper most centre portion of a windshield no greater than 3 inches high and 6 inches wide, and a semi-transparent metric/miles per hour conversion indicator on the lower edge and centred in line with the vehicle’s steering column, no greater than 2 inches high and 7 inches wide.


Other Equipment Rules


Motorcycle Equipment

Every motorcycle must be equipped with securely fastened handlebars, which are not more than 12 inches in height measured vertically from where the handlebars are attached to the frame.

The frame or forks must not be altered in any way that will prevent the safe operation of the motorcycle.

Every motorcycle must be equipped with footrests for the driver and footrests for any passengers. These footrests must be properly positioned.

The motorcycle must have a chain or a drive-shaft guard, or the motorcycle must be constructed to protect the operator and any passengers from the chain or driveshaftguard.

All operators and passengers on motorcycles must wear safety helmets conforming to a safety standard.

Every motorcycle must be equipped with at least 1 and not more than 2 properly mounted white headlamps.

Motorcycle Licenses

Anyone who resides in Nova Scotia and wants to operate a motorcycle must obtain a separate motorcycle driver’s license, or an endorsement to his or her regular license.

A person that wants to obtain a separate motorcycle driver’s license must go through Nova Scotia’s graduated license program: a learner motorcycle driver’s license, a newly licensed motorcycle driver’s license, and an unrestricted motorcycle driver’s license. To obtain a learner’s license, the applicant must first have a Class 7  learner’s license, must pass a vision test and a knowledge test (this test has a special section on motorcycles), and pass a practical skills test. Learner’s motorcycle permit holders are not allowed to have passengers and are only allowed to ride from a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset.

To obtain a newly licensed license, the applicant must  have a learner motorcycle license, and pass an advanced skills test. This test may be taken after 6 months, or after 3 months if the driver has passed an approved motorcycle driver training course. To obtain an unrestricted motorcycle driver’s license, the applicant must have a newly licensed motorcycle driver’s license, complete a waiting period of at least 2 years, and pass an approved motorcycle driver improvement program.  Newly licensed motorcycle drivers are not allowed to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless exempted from the restricted driving hours for employment.

To obtain an unrestricted motorcycle driver’s license, the applicant must have a newly licensed motorcycle driver’s license, complete a waiting period of at least 2 years, and pass an approved motorcycle driver improvement program.

To obtain a motorcycle endorsement, the applicant must: (1) apply for and receive a learner’s motorcycle license; (2) wait for a period of 3 months (which may be reduced to 1 month if the applicant passes an approved motorcycle training course); and (3) pass an advanced skills test. If the applicant passes an approved motorcycle training course, he or she will not have to take the road test.

Motorcycle Noise Limits

A person may not start, drive, turn, or stop any motor vehicle in a manner which causes any loud and unnecessary noise from the engine, exhaust, or braking system or from the contact of tires with the roadway.

Mopeds & Other

A moped is considered a motor driven cycle when it:

  • has two tandem wheels each with a rim diameter greater than 10 inches,
  • has steering handlebars completely constrained from rotating in relation to the axle of one wheel in contact with the ground,
  • has a wheelbase greater than 40 inches,
  • has a seat height unladen greater than 28 inches above the level surface on which the vehicle stands, has an engine not capable of developing more than 5 brake horsepower as measured at the drive shaft,
  • it is not capable of maintain a speed of 40 miles per hour.

Upon payment of the registration fee the owner of the motor-driven cycle shall be issued a serially numbered sticker for that registration year to be used as proof of insurance and displayed at the top of a number plate. Mopeds do not require license plate lighting.

No person shall drive a motor-driven cycle on a highway unless they hold a driver’s license that contains a condition permitting the holder to drive a motorcycle.

No person shall drive a motor-driven cycle unless they wear a helmet.

Motor-driven cycles are limited to only the driver. No passengers are permitted.

It is an offence for an operator of a motor-driven cycle to drive on a highway with their feet removed from the pedals, remove both hands from the handlebars while riding the motor-driven cycle, or practice any tricks or fancy riding on a highway.

Motor driven cycles are not allowed to be driven on a sidewalk.

Motor driven cycles must be ridden as near as practicable to the right of the main travelled portion of the highway and must be ridden in single file except when passing another motor-driven cycle.

Trailer Dimensions

Trailer length: 12.5 meters; total length: 23 meters; width: 2.6 meters; height: 4.15 meters.

Trailer Brakes

All trailers and semitrailers with a gross weight of load and vehicle of more than 4,000 lbs. must have properly functioning brakes controlled by the operator of the motor vehicle.

Breakaway brakes are required on all trailers with a registered weight of over 3000 lbs.

Trailer Hitch/Signals

Trailers must be attached by a draw bar or hitch. Ball hitch mounted on bumper, on 1/2 ton, and 1-ton units is permitted. The drawbar shall not exceed 4.6 meters in length from 1 vehicle to the other vehicle. Safety chains are required.

Trailer Lighting

Every semitrailer or trailer must be equipped with rear lamps that shine a red light for a distance of 150 meters to the rear of the vehicle. A white light for a distance of 15 meters must illuminate the license plate.

Trailer Mirrors

If the rearview mirror in a vehicle is obstructed or interfered with by a trailer or semitrailer attached to the motor vehicle, an outside rearview mirror must be attached to each side of the motor vehicle and placed so that the driver has a clear rear view for 60 meters on each side.

Trailer Speed Limits

Vehicles towing trailers must not exceed the speed limit for other vehicles.

Trailer Towing

A vehicle towing one or more trailers in combination must have the coupling devices connecting the vehicle and trailers designed, constructed, and installed so that they do not deviate more than three inches on either side of the towing vehicle’s path when driving on a level, smooth, and paved surface.

A passenger cannot ride in a travel trailer or a mobile home while it is being towed on the highway.

Trailer Other Provisions

Towing vehicle may not follow other vehicles closer than 60 meters except for the purpose of passing. Riding in a towed trailer is prohibited.

No gas or oil appliances within a trailer can be in use when a trailer is in motion unless the trailer is equipped with an automatic safety valve that is capable of shutting off the gas or oil.

Accident Reporting

Crashes resulting in death, injury, or property damage in excess of C$2,000 must be reported within 1 day.

Liability Laws

Every operator of a motor vehicle must have insurance coverage in the amount of C$500,000 dollars in respect to 1 accident.

Province has non-resident service of process law; does not have guest suit law.