Do you need to present ID when asked by police (vs peace officer)?
Are you a regulated person in a regulated activity? (not common law). Then usually yes.
If you are not a regulated person, not in a regulated activity, and there is no first hand witness declaring they saw you commit a common law crime (harm or threat of harm to person or property) then you have no obligation to provide ID if requested… (common law). Police CAN ask and you can (politely) decline.
NOTE: do you need a license to drive a motor vehicle (commercial). Yes. Do you need a license to travel in an automobile? (private) No, and there is lots of USA research on that, with far less Canadian info available, with many losing in court trying that position, but keep in mind the people successful with the private position never have “winning” decision on the public record as the case never gets to the point of decision for the record. Research well FIRST, and expect resistance, and be peaceful, if you intend to go the private route.
The question often becomes: can the State regulate so many activities and therefore claim jurisdiction over the activity and you? If you have claimed your private status and not signed up for a regulated activity (which still may get ignored) you are in a much better position. If you are a regulated person in a regulated activity, you are out of luck.
DOWNLOAD PDF excerpt – Police Manual-ID-search-arrest-seize
A member passed along some more info and it’s worth checking out his website on motor vehicle speeding offences and how to deal with them (not common law info but helpful info):
Just some comment on the Common Law No ID Required article that you can add to it if you want:
I wrote this article a couple years ago and had it vetted by a lawyer here in Ontario:
In the article I state:
– When you are doing something that requires a license (like hunting or driving) then you MUST produce that license when asked for it. When driving you must also produce your registration and insurance as well, if asked. But you still do NOT have to answer any other questions and do NOT have to give them any other information.
– When being charged with an offence then you MUST identify yourself by giving them your Name, Address and Date of Birth. But you still do NOT have to answer any other questions and do NOT have to give them any other information. Note that you do NOT have to provide any kind of id card, but you DO need to verbally id yourself.
So there is no requirement in Canada to provide any form of identification, but there is requirement to at least verbally identify yourself when being charged.
UPDATE April 2019
This information is from THE CENTRE FOR POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY website BUT I do disagree with some of the definitions of regulated activity or broken the law that are expressed by them on the No ID card ie. j-walking – http://www.c4pa.ca/legal/no-id/
The No-ID card
Having to carry ID and present it to police was a legal cornerstone of totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa. In Canada, there is no general police power to detain, arrest, or search a person who refuses to provide identification.
Except in limited circumstances, it is not an offense to refuse to identify yourself. It is your right to refuse. What good are our rights if we don’t use them? Be part of the NO ID Campaign. Carry a card and exercise your right to refuse.
Remember, sometimes you have to show police ID
Order cards: send cheque or money order to
209 – 3050 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4N 2K4.
Cost – send us whatever you think is fair.
Print your own cards. Download NO ID card PDF
UPDATED July 1, 2019
Do you have to show ID to police? Lawyer, Davin Charney, gives an overview of the law in Canada. Produced for the Centre for Police Accountability (C4PA).
- Useful law:
- R v Honoroski 2003 ABPC http://canlii.ca/t/57jz
- R v Moore 1979 SCC http://canlii.ca/t/1z76c