A safety standards certificate (“Safety”), commonly referred to in short as “Safety”, is a inspection certificate presented upon passing the minimal safety standards for Ontario. A Safety, along with a drive clean certificate, is required to register a car with the Ministry of Transportation (“MTO”)to claim full ownership.
A Safety can be completed by any licensed garage in Ontario. This includes registered independent mechanics as well as departmental store’s auto services such as Canadian Tire. The cost can range from $50-$80 depending on where you go, with independent garages on the lower end of the scale.
Who Needs To Complete the Safety?
Generally, the seller should complete the safety. This part is extremely important, so please read carefully depending on your situation. Keep in mind that the safety standards certificate is not a replacement for a mechanical inspection of the vehicle for many reasons covered below.
Purchasing from a Dealer
The dealer should provide the safety certificate, no debate. The reason is that on purchase confirmation, they transfer ownership for you. To transfer ownership you need a safety and emissions (DriveClean) certificate. You may not physically see the safety certificate paperwork, but it must be completed by law.
Dealerships always have registered independent garages or mechanics. Due to this familiarity, the standard with which the safety is completed may be suspect. However, if you are a smart buyer, you would have gotten a mechanical inspection from your own garage anyway. We really insist you don’t gamble on buying a used car without a proper mechanical inspection.
Purchasing from a Private Seller
The MTO asserts that the seller should provide the safety certificate. However, this is a recommendation not a legal requirement. Most private sellers include a safety certificate to increase the chances of the vehicle being sold, but the failure to present this documentation is not illegal nor should it be a red flag.
Despite the lack of certainty around who should provide the safety, it is highly recommended for you to insist on the seller completing the safety certificate prior to purchase because of the sequential steps to purchasing a used car from a private seller:
- to legally drive the car you need title (ownership) and insurance
- To gain title and ownership, you need a safety certificate
- To get a safety certificate you need to drive the car.
Simply put, with no safety before you buy the car, you can’t legally drive it to get safetied. The two solutions to this problem is complicated and an unnecesary headache. Nevertheless we cover the steps here.
Passing The Safety
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on perspective, passing a safety in Ontario is variable and relatively easy. Many of the requirements are subjective in nature and rarely audited or enforced. Due to the lacking standards of the safety, this cannot replace the need for an independent mechanical inspection of the vehicle prior to purchase.
There are very clear guidelines on what will fail your safety, some of which are easy to spot and others require more mechanical expertise. We will provide articles to inform you on what may fail a safety:
I have many readers stating that mechanics will try to tell you that your car will fail safety and upsell you on items that need fixing. This may be an honest mechanic trying to keep you safe, or a businessman trying to create more business. Get a second opinion and be a smart consumer.
The Safety Standards Certificate is valid for 36 days.
Read additional information on passing Drive Clean Ontario, also required for vehicle registration with the MTO.