Amateur Radio License Plates in Ontario, Canada

The Province of Ontario, Canada, like many jurisdictions worldwide, offer personalized license plates to licensed amateur radio operators. I’ve had conversations with several at the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario as well as ServiceOntario (the organization that contracts out service centers where you can go to get your license plates, health card, etc.) and I thought it’d be a good resource for the amateur community to share my experiences. We will build a new building with the help of flatbed towing this summer so stay on the news about us.

How do I get amateur radio license plates in Ontario?
Simply visit any ServiceOntario location that offers the personalized license plate ordering service. Bring your Certificate of Proficiency in Amateur Radio (your license) with you.

Can Ontario amateur radio license plates be ordered online?
No, a copy of your license is required, which is why you need to visit a ServiceOntario location in person.

What is the cost of an amateur radio license plate in Ontario?
The cost is $30 + tax (as of April 23, 2013 – subject to change at any time).  The grand total with taxes, fees, etc. which was charged to me was $31.30. This is a very steep discount from the over $250 regular fee for personalized license plates in Ontario.  There are no other fees for amateur radio plates other than the $30 + tax fee to purchase the plates.

What should I expect when I visit the ServiceOntario location to order my amateur radio license plates?
From my experience ordering a few sets of plates, expect your transaction to take longer than usual.  Amateur radio plates are something they don’t do very often so it may take them some time to find out how to process it through their systems.  Once they are ordered (and paid for), you’ll get a receipt and you’ll need to wait up to 8 weeks (as per ServiceOntario) for them to be manufactured and shipped to you.

What if the person who previously held my call sign had amateur radio license plates, but never returned them to the Ministry of Transportation?
If the plates are not attached to any vehicle, you should still be able to order them.  Advise the ServiceOntario representative that these are a special series of plates with very specific rules.  Specifically, recommend that they contact their support team who should be able to assist them with placing the order.  This kind of order needs to go through differently than if the plates do not already exist – this process is called “special handling.”

What if the plates for my call sign are listed as attached to someone else’s vehicle?
As mentioned, amateur radio license plates are a special series with very specific rules as to who can order them and transfer them.  A member of my local club has discovered that the spouse of the amateur that previously held his call sign, who passed away. had the plates transferred into her name.  As this is a violation of the rules of the amateur radio license plate series (unless the spouse is also an amateur radio operator and holds the call sign on the license plate), the Ministry of Transportation should be contacting the current registrant of the plates to advise them that they will need to return the plates as they are in contravention of Ontario law.  In the case of the member I referred to, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario advised that the transfer to the spouse should have never taken place due to the policy.

How can I find out the history and status of my desired amateur radio call sign license plate?  (In other words, how do I find out if it’s attached or not?)
You can purchase, for $12, a Vehicle Plate History from the ServiceOntario website using a major credit card.  The report is immediately produced and you can review it instantly.  To order the report, go here and select the Vehicle Plate History abstract.  If the report says STATUS: ATTACHED then you will need to get the Ministry to follow the process above, otherwise, you should be able to order the plates.


The Amateur Spirit

One thing I’ve noticed since becoming both a licensed amateur radio operator in 2011 as well as being a member of a local amateur radio club is that amateur radio clubs seem to be becoming more of a factioned group.

One club I’m aware of feels like they have to tiptoe around certain things, such as avoiding mentioning the word ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) because some members take offence to mentioning ARES during club activities, such as membership meetings.  This club is not alone.  I’ve seen many similar stories on amateur radio forums around the internet and while talking with fellow amateur radio operators.

I feel that things like this hurt the image of amateur radio and contribute to inhibiting growth of the hobby.  All of us, as amateur radio operators, need to realize that we, individually, are not the “be all & end all” of amateur radio.  Amateur radio is a vast and diverse hobby with many areas for interests such as DXing, contesting, APRS, digital modes, QRPing, emergency communications such as ARES and much, much more.

To help combat this, I have drafted a document that I’ve titled The Amateur Spirit.  The document consists of ten basic principle statements that I think help define the true spirit of amateur radio.

These principles are:

  1. We recognize that amateur radio is a very diverse hobby with many niches;
  2. We respect the areas of the amateur radio hobby that an amateur decides to participate in or not participate in;
  3. We respect that while I may not be interested in a particular part of amateur radio, another amateur may be and I will respect that amateur’s interests;
  4. We do not discriminate against, harass or treat others with disrespect because they share their viewpoints or may have viewpoints and interests that are not the same as my own;
  5. We welcome and treat every member, prospective member, guest and the public with dignity and respect;
  6. We are always inclusive and not to exclude any person from participation in the hobby for any reason, including age, gender, background, knowledge or experience;
  7. We always follow the letter and spirit of the law and act ethically in all we do;
  8. We seek to learn new things and share our knowledge;
  9. We get involved and participate in club activities and events, including helping to organize, operate and/or plan them;
  10. We recognize that an amateur radio club “belongs” to all of its members and not to any one particular individual or group.

If you’d like a PDF version of the principles to share, you can download one here.

Comments, suggestions, etc. are always appreciated.

73, Matt Dean, VE3MDN