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Driving Concerns

How do I register my old motorcycle? Add to ...

Just wondering how I would go about registering a 1980 Triumph Bonneville my father brought to Canada with him in 1981 but never got around to registering in Ontario. I’m in the process of restoring it, however I don’t have any of the original paperwork to prove ownership. – Stash Kossek

You’ll need to start a new paper trail to get your Bonneville back on the road, says Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation.

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If the bike was never registered in Ontario and you don’t have the bill of sale, old permits or proof of previous registration from somewhere else, then you’ll have to swear in writing that it belongs to you, the MTO says.

“An affidavit is required to be completed by the person who currently owns or inherited the vehicle,” says MTO spokesman Ajay Woozageer.

The affidavit – used when there are no papers proving ownership – is sworn before an authorized commissioner, like a judge, lawyer, notary public or justice of the peace, Woozageer says.

Then, you’d need to get the bike inspected and get a safety standards certificate (garages that do this have signs saying they’re a motor vehicle inspection station).

Take the affidavit, the safety standards certificate, proof of insurance and the registration application form into a Service Ontario Centre, Woozageer says.

When you get there, there might be some confusion over whether or not you’ll need to also submit a Canada Border Services Agency import form to legally import the bike into Canada – even though it’s been here for 30 years.

The MTO says that you’ll need the import form and you’ll need to pay taxes and duties – but, according to the CBSA website, this is incorrect.

It says vehicles brought over by settlers (your dad 30 years ago) don’t need to be imported. I asked the CBSA for confirmation, but didn’t get an answer in time for my deadline.

Because this isn’t a run of the mill registration, you may run into a bit of confusion generally at the Service Ontario office or if you ask them online for advice.

“Most Service Ontario people are only reading from a manual, which doesn’t seem to cover these (uncommon) cases,” says Allan Johnson, a volunteer researcher with the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group. “In my experience, only the people on the help line are of any use.”

If you’re planning on riding the bike only for the occasional Sunday drive, Johnson suggests registering the bike as a historic vehicle.

“In Ontario a motor vehicle 30 years old or older can be titled as an antique vehicle,” Johnson says. “Although not generally known by Service Ontario offices, a motorcycle also qualifies.”

You’ll need another affidavit – this time from a dealer or appraiser – stating the year of manufacture and appraised value, Johnson says.

Historic vehicles cost less – $18 instead of $42 a year (for plates), Johnson says – but they can only be driven for parades and rallies and the occasional short road test.

And, insurance for a historic bike usually costs less than regular coverage.

“If it’s registered as a historic vehicle, you couldn’t use the bike for regular commutes to and from work,” Johnson says. “Classic and vintage bike insurance is also for limited annual mileage.”

If you have any repair or maintenance queries for Jason, send him a message at globedrive@globeandmail.com or contact him through Twitter: @JasonTchir

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