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driving concerns

The blue numbers and letters on our Ontario licence plate are losing their colour. Do we have to pay for the inferior workmanship to be replaced? How long are plates meant to last? – Jackie, Mississauga

If you’re wondering how long Ontario licence plates are designed to last before fading or peeling, the answer, it seems, is yours to discover.

Ontario’s Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery did not answer questions about the life expectancy of Ontario plates.

In an email statement, it did say that Ontario licence plates are guaranteed for five years, including “plates that are no longer plainly visible.”

So, if your plates are less than five years old, you can replace them through ServiceOntario without paying the $59 fee.

The Ministry also didn’t answer questions about why plates are peeling or fading, and how many plates have been replaced annually since 2020.

But it did say that it had fixed a years-long peeling problem that had affected white licence plates with blue lettering and the “Yours to Discover” slogan.

“The prior delamination issue with “Yours to Discover” licence plates has been addressed by the manufacturer by improving the corrosive coating,” spokesman Jeffrey Stinson said in the email. “The upgraded plates are currently being used.”

The manufacturer is the crown corporation Trilcor Correctional Industries and the plates are made by prisoners at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont.


Starting in 2012, Ontario replaced thousands of white plates – the Ministry didn’t immediately say how many – because the 3M laminate film was peeling off them.

In 2020, Ontario issued a brand new plate design with white letters and numbers on a blue background with the slogan “A Place to Grow.”

Because the numbers weren’t raised, the new design was supposed to solve the peeling problem.

But the new plates were quickly discontinued after it was discovered that they weren’t always visible at night.

The government said that the blue plates would be recalled and redesigned to fix the problem. In the meantime, it started issuing the white plates again.

Three years later, at least 170,000 of the 193,000 blue plates issued are still on the road.

While the blue plates are still valid, the province announced this year it has decided not to redesign the blue plates and to stick to the white plates instead, Stinson said.

“After thorough testing by law enforcement and other key stakeholders, alongside improvements in durability of white ‘Yours to Discover’ plates, we decided that it was in the best interest of Ontarians not to move forward with the redesign of Ontario’s licence plate,” Stinson said.

If you have blue plates, you can exchange them for white plates for no charge, he said.

Have a driving question? Send it to and put ‘Driving Concerns’ in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

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