Are Licence Plate Covers Illegal?

Posted by Alan MacDonald on

Illegal licence plate covers?

Are Licence Plate Covers Illegal?

Is the OPP cracking down on car owners who use license plate covers?

The law is clear, sort of – licence plate covers are NOT illegal, but you could still get a ticket if you have one. 


Section 13 (2) of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) indicates that every number plate shall not be obstructed and must be plainly visible at all times.

Number plate to be kept clean
(2) Every number plate shall be kept free from dirt and obstruction and shall be affixed so that the entire number plate, including the numbers, is plainly visible at all times, and the view of the number plate shall not be obscured or obstructed by spare tires, bumper bars, any part of the vehicle, any attachments to the vehicle or the load carried.  


According to Bob Nichols, Senior Media Liaison Officer for the MTO, "so long as the entire plate is visible at all times, to any person or device, the option to use a clear covered plate shall be left up to the individual.

"The sale of licence plate covers is not illegal. The ministry is aware that many retailers sell these items, however, the ministry does not endorse or promote the sale, purchase, or use of clear or tinted licence plate covers.

Who decides whether plates are plainly visible?

Nichols points out that the laws are open to interpretation and the discretion of law enforcement when it comes to the HTA. When a licence plate cover "obstructs the licence plate by reflecting headlights, or where a licence plate or plate cover is dirty, damaged, or discoloured and the licence plate is not clearly visible," the operator is subject to a fine (plus court costs and victim fine surcharges) under section 13 of the HTA. 

The sale of licence plate covers is not illegal

If you are worried about a ticket, stick to clear covers & perimeter frames

So long as the entire plate is visible at all times, the option to use a clear plate cover shall be left up to the individual.

If a police officer is looking to give you a ticket, sometimes a smoked cover looks like an easy option. A clear cover makes that option dubious, but it is still possible to get a ticket. Cruiser Accessories clear plate shield will keep your plate clean without obscuring or obstructing it. 


Cruiser Frames “Engineered to Show More Plate”

Cruiser Frames are engineered to show more plate

According to the letter of the law, those Dealership plate frames that came with your car are illegal. Most of them cover some part of the plate, and often cover up provincial names and sometimes even your sticker. Over 90% of the Cruiser Accessories product line has been re-engineered to "Show More Plate." Cruiser Frames offers slotted holes to allow maximum frame adjust-ability to ensure Provincial names and ministry of transportation stickers are not obstructed. 

Take a closer look at the top picture. You can’t see the word “Arizona!” Then take a look at the after image. Arizona is clearly legible. Now take a look at the word “Colorado” in the second set of images below. Before and After are significantly different.

Cruiser Frames “Engineered to Show More Plate” - Colorado

Perimeter Frames are engineered to show entire plate

Want to make sure absolutely none of your plate is obscured? Cruiser Accessories perimeter frames allow the entire licence plate to fit inside the frame. This ensures the whole licence plate, including the numbers, is plainly visible at all times. These frames are 100% legal according to the law as currently written. This means there is absolutely no reason an officer can find to give you a ticket.

Perimeter frames show the ENTIRE licence plate







ServiceOntario also clarifies policy on peeling licence plate numbers. Victoria Stacey, Strategic Issues and Media Advisor with the Ministry of Government & Consumer Services (which oversees ServiceOntario) advised that "Ontario licence plates are guaranteed by the manufacturer for up to five years under normal wear and tear, but usually last longer before requiring replacement.

"Customers who have a problem with their plates should bring them to a ServiceOntario centre in order to obtain replacements." For more info read our article: "What should I do if my Ontario licence plate is peeling?"


NOTE: Laws concerning shields and license plate frames vary from Province to Province. Please check your Provincial and Municipal Laws and Regulations.  

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Highway Traffic Act (HTA) Section 13


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