In Alberta you are only required to have one plate on the rear of your vehicle. However, many people will put a decorative plate on the front, just for fun, usually a flag, or a sports team, but you can get all sorts of decorative plates from Canadian Tire or most truck stops. I've seen lots of people put plates from other counties on the front of their cars (Germany, England). What I'm wondering is if it would be illegal to put on a plate from say neighbouring British Columbia, where all vehicles are required to have a plate on both the front and back of the vehicle. What would the law be in Alberta for putting a BC plate on the front of your truck? What would happen if you drove it into BC?

  • Where did you get the BC plate in this scenario?
    – cpast
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 18:02
  • @cpast I'm from BC and moved to Alberta (temporarily, but not temporarily enough according to Alberta laws), it's an old plate that was registered in my name.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 3:54
  • @cpast Albertans aren't exactly well liked in my part of BC. They have a reputation for flooding into the province every weekend, causing heavy traffic, filling up all our campgrounds, making a mess of all our favourite outdoor spots, and driving up the cost of living. I hate driving back home with a red plate knowing I'm being judged for being yet another gorbie in the Kootenays. Putting a BC plate on the front of my truck would be a type of camouflage, I could back it into the trees and I'd be less worried about it getting vandalized when I park in the bush to go skiing or hiking.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 4:10

1 Answer 1


I couldn't find any decisions on CanLII where someone was punished for a fictitious or out-of-province front plate in Alberta, however the Traffic Safety Act states the following:

1(1)(s) “licence plate” means a licence plate that is issued under this Act and includes an object that is recognized under this Act as a licence plate;

(9) For the purposes of sections 1(1)(rr) and 11.1 and Part 8, licence plate includes a licence plate issued in another jurisdiction.

53(1) Except as otherwise permitted under this Act, a person shall not do any of the following: (b) display on a motor vehicle or trailer a licence plate other than a licence plate issued or authorized for use on that vehicle; (c) operate or park a motor vehicle or trailer on a highway with an expired licence plate displayed on it;

(Part 8) 168(1) If a peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe (a) that a vehicle is displaying licence plates that (i) were not issued for that vehicle . . . the peace officer may seize and take possession of the licence plates displayed on that vehicle.

169(1) A peace officer may arrest a person without warrant if the peace officer, on reasonable grounds, believes . . . (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the following are the provisions for which a person may be arrested without a warrant: (c) section 53(1)(b) relating to the displaying of a licence plate other than one authorized under this Act;

While the connection of the extended definition in s.9 to s.53(1) is a little vague, the connection to Part 8 is not, and therefore I can confidently say that the Act clearly states it is a violation to use out-of-province plates on the front of a vehicle. The plates can be seized and you may be arrested.

It may further be a violation of the BC Motor Vehicle Act if/when you travel there.

  • 1
    Fictitious license plates are probably safe: they're not actual license plates, they just look like them.
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 23:35
  • @Mark, I've updated the answer with the definitions from ss. 1(1)(s) and 9 which brings more clarity. I think you're right that fictitious plates aren't a violation of the TSA.
    – dw1
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 0:31
  • 3
    So, if it was "issued for that vehicle" when it was based in another province, then you don't have to remove it once you move to Alberta?
    – cnst
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 22:16

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