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Mandatory Vehicle Branding Program in Ontario

Photo of damaged and rebuilt cars

Mandatory Vehicle Branding Program In Ontario

Effective Protection for Used-Vehicle Consumers

What is the Mandatory Vehicle Branding Program?

Ontario's mandatory vehicle branding program:

  • Promotes consumer protection for used vehicles;
  • Discourages vehicle registration fraud and theft; and
  • Enhances road user safety.

The mandatory vehicle branding program became effective March 31, 2003 and makes the province's roads safer. Branding is the process of assigning "brand" types that indicate whether a vehicle has been severely damaged in the past. The brand is then recorded in the Ministry of Transportation's Vehicle Registration System.

Brand types are:

  • "Irreparable"
  • "Salvage"
  • "Rebuilt"
  • "None"

Insurance companies, auto recyclers, salvagers, auctioneers, dealers and individual vehicle owners must assign a brand type to vehicles that have been damaged to the point of total loss and meet this branding criteria. These vehicles must be reported to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

Mandatory branding is also part of Ontario's ongoing efforts to prevent vehicle theft and registration fraud. It builds on the success of the province's voluntary branding program (operating since 1998) and similar programs in Canada and the U.S.

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How does Mandatory Vehicle Branding Help Me as a Consumer?

In the past, some written-off vehicles found their way back onto the road; some were safely rebuilt, while others were not and were sold to unsuspecting consumers.

The mandatory branding program helps to protect the consumer by providing important information about possible past damage to a vehicle.

As a consumer, you will have better information to help you determine if a vehicle you are about to buy is:

  • Irreparable and for parts only;
  • Salvage and can't be plated; or
  • Rebuilt to MTO structural standards.

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The Four Vehicle Brands


  • Vehicle has been written-off as a total loss.
  • Can only be used for parts or scrap.
  • Cannot be driven again in Ontario.


  • Vehicle has been written-off as a total loss.
  • Can be repaired or used for parts or scrap.
  • If repaired, vehicle must pass a structural inspection test and be inspected by an authorized technician.
  • If vehicle passes test it will be re-branded as "Rebuilt".


  • Vehicle was written-off, branded as "Salvage" and was repaired.
  • To qualify as "Rebuilt", owners must have photographs, documents and receipts of vehicle damage.
  • Vehicle must have been issued a Structural Inspection Certificate from an authorized technician at a Ministry of Transportation-licensed Motor Vehicle Inspection Station.
  • "Rebuilt" or "None" are the only acceptable brands for a consumer buying a used vehicle for on-road use.


  • Vehicle has not been given one of the other three brands.
  • Vehicle may have had a damage-related brand applied outside Ontario, or
  • Vehicle may have been damaged or rebuilt before March 31, 2003, or
  • Degree of damage does not meet branding criteria, or
  • Vehicle may never have been in a collision.

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Stolen Vehicle Designation

  • Vehicle has been declared stolen by the police.
  • No vehicle transaction can be completed as long as this designation is in place.

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Branded Vehicle Permit

Check Vehicle Permit for Branding Information

Vehicle Brand Identified

Photo of permit showing brand type

Look for the Brand

The vehicle's brand will appear on Ontario's Vehicle Registration System database, on vehicle permits, in vehicle histories and in the Used Vehicle Information Packages (UVIPs) available from the Ministry of Transportation or the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.

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Did You Know?

  • Every year, insurance companies write off about 90,000 vehicles as total losses in Ontario because of severe damage or theft.

  • Since 1991, the rate of vehicle thefts across Canada has increased by 10 per cent.

  • Stolen vehicles are often re-registered under the serial numbers of identical vehicles that have been written-off. The stolen vehicles can then be sold to unsuspecting buyers. Branding helps to identify these written off vehicles and serial numbers, which will deter most thieves from doing this.

  • Automobile theft costs Ontario drivers more than $216 million a year in additional insurance costs.

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Tips for Used Vehicle Shoppers

  • Used vehicles that have brands of "Rebuilt" or "None" are allowed to be driven on the road. Used vehicles with the brand of "Salvage" cannot be legally driven. Salvage vehicles are required to pass a structural inspection test before receiving the brand of rebuilt.

  • Stop by your local Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office and pick up a brochure called Buying and Selling a Used Vehicle in Ontario. (See also: Buying and Selling a Used Vehicle.)

  • As a consumer, you should be aware that private sellers are required to provide used car buyers with a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP), which contains the vehicle's registration history in Ontario, and discloses any liens currently registered on the vehicle.

  • If you wish to obtain a UVIP on your own, you may do so at a Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office or through the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.

  • Motor vehicle dealers should tell you important facts about a vehicle and are required to guarantee that vehicles they sell are free of liens, roadworthy and are not stolen.

  • Check the vehicle's permit and/or UVIP carefully for the vehicle's brand type. It appears in the upper left hand corner of the permit as well as in the UVIP.

  • Unless you're buying the vehicle for parts or scrap metal, you should NEVER buy a vehicle with a brand of "Irreparable" on vehicle documents.

  • Finally, you may wish to ask the seller if you can take the vehicle for an inspection by an authorized mechanic you know and trust.

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NOTE: Some vehicles are exempt from branding under the new program: trailers, traction engines, farm tractors, road-building machines, bicycles, motor-assisted bicycles, motorized snow vehicles, streetcars and motor vehicles with a model year of 1980 or earlier. For motorcycles, only the "Irreparable" brand will apply.

For more details:

  • Frequently Asked Questions; or
  • call MTO INFO at 416-235-4686 or toll free at 1-800-268-4686.
    TTY: 1-866-471-8929 or 905-704-2426

Enquiries can also be made to the Toronto Call Centre at 416-246-7166 or 1-800-387-7736 or for French Enquiries call 1-800-461-4803.

See also: