Frequently Asked Questions
Learn about Ontario's program to brand used vehicles and how to avoid buying an unsafe vehicle.
Q1: What triggers a vehicle brand?
A vehicle must be declared as a total loss or "write-off" as the first trigger to be included in the Mandatory Vehicle Branding Program.
A total loss vehicle has been damaged by collision, impact, fire or flood, or has been stolen and dismantled, where the estimated cost of repairing it is greater than the difference between its fair market value immediately before it was damaged and its salvage value.
Salvage value means the value of a damaged vehicle that is legitimately recoverable through commercial means of disposal.
The vehicle must then meet the definition of either "Irreparable" or "Salvage" to be branded.
Q2: Who determines a vehicle's brand?
Insurance companies, self-insurers, importers, salvagers, auctioneers or anyone who deals in second-hand motor vehicles are required to determine whether a severely damaged vehicle is "Irreparable" or "Salvage."
Individual vehicle owners who don't receive a claim settlement through their insurance company for a severely damaged vehicle must have the brand determined by an authorized mechanic in a type 6 Motor Vehicle Inspection Station (MVIS).
Q3: How and when should a vehicle brand be reported?
Insurers must report the vehicle brand to the Ministry of Transportation within:
- 6 days of acquiring ownership of the severely damaged vehicle
- 14 days after the date on which the insurer settles the claim but doesn'st acquire ownership of the vehicle
Self-insurers must report vehicle brands within 6 days of the date of the incident.Individuals or organizations with 9 vehicles or less must notify the ministry within 26 days if no brand has been applied and the person:
- does not have insurance
- has insurance but the damage is not covered by the policy
- has insurance but a claim is not paid within 25 days
A person other than an insurer who buys, sells, wrecks or otherwise deals in used vehicles (e.g. an importer, salvager or auctioneer) must report vehicle brands to the ministry within 6 days of acquiring ownership of the vehicle.
Vehicle brands must be reported to the Ministry of Transportation on a Notification of Vehicle Brand form (PDF - 186 KB). These forms are also available:
- at any Ministry office
- at any ServiceOntario centre
Q4: What happens if a vehicle brand is not reported to the Ministry of Transportation?
If your vehicle is severely damaged in a collision and meets the branding criteria, you are required by law to have the vehicle branded and reported to the Ministry of Transportation.
If you fail to notify the ministry, you are guilty of an offence and are liable to a fine of $400-$20,000 upon conviction.
Q5: What happens to vehicles branded in another province when they are registered in Ontario?
Vehicle brand information from other Canadian or US jurisdictions will be carried forward when vehicles are registered in Ontario, with the exception of the "Rebuilt" brand.
Imported vehicles with a "Rebuilt" designation or its equivalent from other Canadian or US jurisdictions will be registered as "Salvage" in Ontario. These vehicles need to undergo a structural inspection to make sure they have been properly repaired before they can be branded as "Rebuilt" in Ontario.
Q6: What happens to vehicles branded and identified as having fire or flood damage by another jurisdiction when they are registered in Ontario?
The "Irreparable" brand is applied to all imported branded vehicles previously identified with "fire or flood" damage, regardless of the brand identified on the title.
For example, if a customer has a Certificate of Title or other acceptable proof of registration with a brand of "Salvage" and a description of "flood damage or fire damage," it must be branded as "Irreparable."
Q7: What happens to motorcycles branded in another jurisdiction when they are registered in Ontario?
All imported motorcycles previously branded "Salvage," "Rebuilt" or an equivalent brand are branded "Irreparable" when registered in Ontario. This means that the vehicle will never be eligible to be driven on Ontario roads. The regular green vehicle permit is still issued.
A permit is not issued for vehicles that are "wrecked," which means they have been crushed or dismantled.
There are no exemptions from this requirement.
Q8: What is a reassembled vehicle?
A reassembled motor vehicle is assembled using the body of a vehicle with a model year of 1981 or later and the chassis frame assembly of another motor vehicle, both of which were manufactured using a full frame assembly as part of the vehicle's structure.
A full frame vehicle uses a separate frame that extends from the front to the rear of the vehicle to support the body and chassis components.
Under the mandatory vehicle branding program, reassembled vehicles are branded as "Salvage" and must undergo a structural inspection and a safety inspection before being registered as fit.
Q9: Can I legally drive an "Irreparable" or "Salvage" vehicle on Ontario roads?
No. Vehicles branded as "Irreparable" can never be driven on Ontario roads. They can only be used for parts or scrap.
Vehicles branded as "Salvage" can't be driven on the road, but they can be towed for the purposes of repair or receiving a Safety Standards Certificate. If you want to drive a "Salvage" vehicle, it must be upgraded to "Rebuilt." This can only be done if it has passed a structural inspection and safety inspection to be registered for on-road use.
Q10: How can I change the brand on my vehicle from "Salvage" to "Rebuilt"?
To make sure your vehicle meets minimum safety standards, it must pass an inspection and be issued a Structural Inspection Certificate (SIC). You must submit the SIC and registration permit to a Ministry of Transportation licensing office. Once accepted and approved, the "Salvage" brand will be changed to "Rebuilt."
Once the "Rebuilt" brand is placed on the vehicle registration file, you must obtain a Safety Standards Certificate from any Motor Vehicle Inspection Station so the vehicle can be declared "fit." The vehicle may then be plated and legally operated (once it has been provided with a Drive Clean certificate, if required).
Q11: Does the ministry still recognize "WRK" vehicle status?
Yes. A vehicle qualifies for a "WRK" status if it:
- is in the possession of a wrecker or recycler
- has no additional value as a motor vehicle
- has been shredded, crushed or baled
All other vehicles will be unfit and may or may not be branded, depending on their condition. Vehicles that receive the "WRK" status will automatically be branded "Irreparable."