Monday, August 25, 2014

Moving To Alberta: How To Register Your Out-Of-Province Car & Sign Up For Health Insurance

Moving Alberta How To Register Car and Health Care
Two months ago I moved from BC to Alberta. I love it here; but what I didn't love (or anticipate) was the hassle of transitioning on paper from British Columbian to official Albertan. To make the move less confusing, here's a how-to guide based on my experience.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Can't I just keep my BC plates and driver's license?

That depends. If you're a student who is attending school (or on a co-op work term) in Alberta, you are allowed to keep your BC license plates and driver's license while you are studying (or on co-op). However, if you are no longer a student and are working in Alberta (this includes medical residency), you have to register for Alberta license plates and surrender your BC driver's license in exchange for an Alberta one. You have 3 months from the day that you move to Alberta to get these two things done. Here's how to go about doing them:

STEP 1: Get a "Request For Vehicle Inspection" form

When: anytime (the form doesn't expire)
Where: any Alberta Registry office
I went to: Strathcona Registry, Edmonton
Bring: your BC vehicle registration papers (so that the registry can take note of the VIN, year, make, model, etc.)
Cost: $9.45 (cost may vary by Registry)
You'll get: a piece of paper with your car information on it, which you will need to take to the inspector
Moving Alberta How To Register Car and Health Care
get this from a Registry office before going for the out-of-province vehicle inspection

STEP 2: Go for an out-of-province vehicle inspection

When: within the 14 days prior to registering your vehicle (so time this right, or the inspection will expire and you'll have to pay for another one!)
Where: any auto repair shop that does out-of-province vehicle inspections -- call ahead
I went to: Best Choice Automotive, Edmonton (I phoned 9 places and they had the best price and positive reviews) -- it took about 2 hours, the staff were great, and my car passed without any problem.
Caution: Beware of dishonest auto repair shops who will be quick to find "problems" with your car and refuse to pass it on inspection until you have the repairs done. You should not be required to have to have a block heater or winter tires to pass the inspection.
Bring: your "request for vehicle inspection" form
Cost: $152.25 (including tax) -- though I got quotes from other auto shops for up to $225
You'll get: an "out-of-province vehicle inspection certificate," which you will need to present at the Registry when you are ready to register your vehicle
Moving Alberta How To Register Car and Health Care Best Choice Automotive Edmonton
get your out-of-province vehicle inspection done in the 14 days prior to registering

STEP 3: Buy Alberta auto insurance

When: anytime, as you can sign up but then specify that you only want your policy to start at a later date
Where: Good question... Unlike BC, Alberta has a plethora of private insurance companies. I asked around a bit and got quotes online from several different ones.
I went with: TD Insurance Meloche Monnex -- because their rate was the best, as they offered an Alberta Medical Association discount
How (for TD): Get a quote on their website, then phone their number to accept the quote and arrange payment (e.g. credit card). It is all done remotely, rather than in-person -- overall very convenient!
Cost: $1392/year (this is the cheapest basic coverage; it varies based on car, driving record, km/year, etc.)
You'll get (in the mail): a "pink card" -- this card states that you are insured for 1 year; it is in place of the licence plate decals that we have in BC
You have 1 month from the start date of your insurance to submit to TD Meloche Monnex: 1) ICBC claims report*, 2) ICBC driver's abstract*, 3) copy of Alberta driver's license
*Where to get your ICBC claims report & driver's abstract: email and they will email these two documents to you (mine came within the week)
Moving Alberta How To Register Car and Health Care Pink Card Insurance
pink card (proof of auto insurance)

STEP 4: Register your vehicle and get an Alberta driver's license

When: when you've completed steps 1-3; if you want your registration to start on a certain date, you have to go to the Registry office on that exact date (this is somewhat inconvenient; I had to take a couple hours off work)
Where: any Alberta Registry office
I went to: Strathcona Registry, Edmonton
Bring: 1) pink card, 2) out-of-province vehicle inspection certificate, 3) bill of sale**, 4) lease agreement or pay stub (to show proof of your address with the date), 5) passport, 6) BC driver's license (which they will take from you)
Cost: $143.90 (including tax; may vary by registry)
Can you choose your license plate number?: no
You'll get: one rear license plate (but I had to find my own tools to attach it), a registration certificate (stating the dates for which the registration is valid), a temporary driver's license (actual one to follow in the mail -- good for 5 years)
Moving Alberta How To Register Car and Health Care Canada
remember to bring the correct documents to the Registry office -- these are  just half of them!
Moving Alberta How To Register Car and Health Care**Who needs a bill of sale?: If you are not the sole owner of the vehicle you need to complete a "bill of sale" form (I picked my form up at the Registry). This form must be signed by the owner of the vehicle and by a witness. I co-owned my vehicle with another person; despite being a co-owner I still had to fill out a bill of sale stating that they had sold it to me (we just filled in the selling price as $1).

STEP 5 (annually): Renew your registration; keep your same plate

When to renew your registration: Unlike in BC, Alberta registration renewal occurs in a month determined by the initial of your last name -- mine is "D", so I'll have to renew my registration at the end of each April.
Where: any Alberta Registry office or online
Annual cost: around $85 (supposedly the same at the Registry office and online)
New Alberta license plates: These plates (featuring mountain scenery) are supposedly coming in late summer 2015; this means that I'll have to switch to one when I renew my registration in April 2016. I'll be issued a new plate with a new number.

TYING UP LOOSE ENDS: What do I do with my BC insurance and old BC plates?

BC insurance: You can either 1) cancel your insurance (and have the unused portion refunded) or 2) wait for it to run out (if it happens to do so within 3 months after your move to Alberta). I did the latter.
Can I keep my old BC plates?: 1) If your BC insurance runs out -- yes, you can keep your BC plates (but ICBC encourages you to return them so that they can reuse the number). 2) If you cancel your BC insurance before it runs out -- no, you are supposed to mail your BC plates back to ICBC a.s.a.p. (I guess this is to ensure that you don't keep driving around with these plates, that appear to have a valid decal on them, despite the fact that you are no longer paying for the insurance).

DON'T DO THIS: If you are thinking of moving within the next couple of years...

Last year I got my BC driver's license renewed for 5 years. When I got my Alberta's license I had to surrender my BC one...along with the 4 years left on it. So if you anticipate potentially moving, don't buy a 5-year BC license! ICBC does not reimburse for unused years.

Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)

Moving Alberta How To Register Car and Health Care AHCIP
Fortunately registering for health care is simpler than registering your vehicle! Here's how to do it:
When: on the first day of your third month in Alberta (e.g. I moved here June 26; therefore I am eligible to register for AHCIP on September 1)
Where: any Alberta Registry office or by mail (slower)
I went to: Strathcona Registry, Edmonton
Bring: 1) completed application form, 2) lease agreement or pay stub (proof of address and date), 3) driver's license, 4) passport
Where to get an application form: any Alberta Registry office or online
Cost: nothing! Unlike the BC Medical Services Plan, health care in Alberta is offered premium-free.
You'll get (by mail): an Alberta Personal Health Card

All the best with your move to Alberta! I hope some of this information is helpful; I know I felt a bit overwhelmed when I was trying to figure out exactly what I had to do and what order I had to do it in. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions (or better yet, contact a Registry office -- I'm not an expert and have based this article purely on my own experience!).


  1. Thanks so much for this!!

  2. I am a resident moving from BC to AB for July 1, 2016, and your post is immensely helpful. You are a wonderful human being - thank you so much for saving the rest of us from a real headache!

  3. I am moving to Calgary from Vancouver to do my grad studies. Because of your post, I will save about $2000 in Health Insurance. Greatly obliged.

  4. Thanks for posting this, it is a tremendous help! I've lived in 5 provinces, a previous Alberta resident & I've never had such a hassle in my life to register a vehicle, get a drivers license and register for AB health care etc. Luckily I'm retired and not starting a new job. One would need a week off work for the time required for the beaurocratic nightmare. Your step by step list is exactly what is needed

  5. Thank you for writing this! We are moving from BC to Alberta in a month and a half and I've been stressing myself out about how to get this stuff done!

  6. This has helped out a ton. Have bookmarked it and always use it as a guide. Never thought it'd be such a hassle!

  7. Yes transitions from province to province is a pain when it comes to paperwork! I moved from Ontario to BC a year ago and there were several changes OHIP -> MSP, drivers license and license plates, ICBC and insurance papers etc.


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