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Canadian ATV Licence Rules

a person on an ATV

Across Canada, there are rules and regulations around operating off-road vehicles (ORVs) like all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility task vehicles (UTVs) on public roads and trails. With so many different provincial laws, it can be confusing to know if you need a license to drive an ATV or UTV, and what the requirements are. This guide will cover whether you need a license to drive an ATV or UTV in Canada, and outline the specific provincial laws surrounding ORV use.

In general, a valid driver’s license is required to operate an ATV or side-by-side on public roads across the country. However, license requirements can vary for off-road trails and private land. There are also laws pertaining to registration, insurance, age restrictions, speed limits and more that operators should be aware of.

By reviewing the provincial breakdown, ATV and UTV riders can educate themselves on the rules of the road and stay safe and legal when out on their off-highway vehicle. Being informed on the regulations for your province is key before hitting the trails or backroads on your ATV or UTV.

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When is a Licence Required to Operate an ATV or UTV?

Across Canada, the licence requirements for operating an ATV or UTV vary depending on where you plan to ride. Here’s an overview of when a licence is typically required:

 

On Public Roads/Highways

If you plan to drive your ATV or side-by-side on public roads or highways, a valid driver’s licence is required in most provinces. The minimum class of licence ranges from a learner’s permit like a G2 or Class 7, up to a full Class 5 licence, depending on the province.

 

On Private Property

On private land like your own property or private trails, a driver’s licence is generally not required to operate an ATV or UTV. However, it’s important to check local municipal bylaws as some regions may have additional rules around ORV use on private property.

 

On Recreational Trails

The licence requirements for recreational ATV/UTV trails can vary. Some trail systems require all riders to have a valid driver’s licence, while others have no licensing requirements. Be sure to check the rules of any recreational trails before hitting them on your off-road vehicle.

 

Age Limits

Across Canada, there are age restrictions on operating off-road vehicles unsupervised. Generally, you need to be at least 12 years old to drive an ATV without adult supervision, and 16 years old to operate an ATV or side-by-side on public roads.

 

British Columbia ATV/UTV Regulations

In British Columbia, there are specific regulations around operating ATVs and UTVs on public roads versus private land and recreational areas.

On public roads and highways in BC, ATV and UTV operators must have a valid driver’s license, have their vehicle registered, and carry insurance. The license required depends on the type of vehicle – you need a regular passenger vehicle license for UTVs and side-by-sides, while a motorcycle license (Class 6) is required for ATVs. Failing to meet these requirements can result in fines if you are caught operating on a public road without them.

On private land like farms, rural acreages, and private trails, licensing and registration requirements are more relaxed in BC. You do not need a license to operate an ATV or side-by-side on private property. However, it is still recommended to take an accredited safety training course before driving recreationally.

ATV and UTV use is popular on many recreational sites and trail networks in British Columbia. For these areas, operators are usually required to have some form of registration or stickers to ride. For example, to ride on trails managed by the ATV Safety Institute of BC, users need to display a permit sticker. Always check the rules before hitting recreational trails on public lands.

 

Alberta ATV/UTV Regulations

In Alberta, there are no special licensing requirements to operate an ATV or UTV. However, if you plan to drive your off-road vehicle on public roads, you must have a valid Class 7 learner’s permit or higher regular driver’s license. On private land like farms or acreages, no driver’s license is needed to operate an ATV or side-by-side in Alberta.

Some key regulations for Alberta include:

 

  • Minimum Class 7 license required for public road use
  • No license required on private property
  • Must be at least 14 years old to drive an ATV
  • Must be at least 16 years old to drive on highways
  • ATVs must be insured if used on public lands

 

It’s important to note that Alberta has specific rules if you want to drive your off-road vehicle across a highway, even just to cross from one private property to another. In these cases, you must have a full Class 5 non-GDL license and cross at 90 degree angles in permitted areas.

Overall, Alberta strives to balance safety with flexibility for off-road enthusiasts. Just be sure to verify you meet age and licensing requirements based on where you plan to ride before hitting the trails or roads.

 

Saskatchewan ATV/UTV Regulations

Saskatchewan has some of the most relaxed rules for ATV and UTV operation in Canada. There are no ATV registration requirements in the province. You do not need to register or license your ATV in order to ride it on private property or designated trails.

On private land like farms or acreages, you can legally drive an ATV without a license if you are at least 12 years old. This allows young people to help out around the property or enjoy recreational riding under adult supervision.

For public land like Crown land, provincial parks, and designated ATV trails, drivers need to be at least 16 years old and have a valid Class 7 learner’s license to operate an ATV. Without a license, you cannot ride on public trails or roads in Saskatchewan.

It’s important to note that some public land may have additional rules around helmets, passengers, night riding, etc. Always check the regulations in the area you’ll be riding.

While registration is not required, having liability insurance (minimum $200,000) on your ATV is highly recommended if riding anywhere other than your own private property. This protects you in case of an at-fault accident.

Overall, Saskatchewan ATV and side-by-side riders enjoy some of the most flexible rules in Canada thanks to no registration requirements and the ability to ride on private land without a license.

 

Manitoba ATV/UTV Regulations

In Manitoba, there are specific regulations surrounding when an ATV or UTV operator needs a license. On public roads in the province, a license is required in certain situations.

If an ATV or side-by-side is being driven on the shoulder of a road in Manitoba, the operator must hold a valid driver’s license. This applies to any public roads where driving on the shoulder is permitted. Without a proper license, it would be illegal to drive an off-road vehicle on the shoulder of highways, rural roads, or other public roadways in Manitoba.

However, a license is generally not required if the ATV or UTV is being used exclusively off-road. For example, no license is needed to drive these vehicles on private farmland or acreages within Manitoba. The same goes for recreational trails and designated off-road areas – operators can legally drive ATVs and UTVs without holding a driver’s license.

So in summary, a license is only required in Manitoba if driving an ATV or side-by-side on the shoulder of a public road. For private land and off-road trails, no license is needed to legally operate these recreational off-road vehicles.

 

Ontario ATV/UTV Regulations

In Ontario, there are specific regulations around operating ATVs and UTVs on both roads and trails. Some key rules include:

 

Minimum License Requirements

To operate an ATV or side-by-side on public roads in Ontario, you need at minimum a G2 or M2 license. The G2 is for those driving a regular four-wheeled vehicle, while the M2 is the requirement for motorcycles. Those under 16 cannot drive an off-road vehicle on roads at all in Ontario.

 

Helmet Laws

Ontario law states that approved motorcycle helmets must be worn at all times when operating an ATV or UTV. This applies on both roads and trails. Helmets need to properly fit and be fastened securely.

 

Trail Regulations

On recreational trails and off-road areas in Ontario, license requirements can vary. Some trails mandated by the province require proper licensing, while rules are more flexible on private trails and land. Always check ahead to see what licenses or registrations are needed before hitting the trails on an ATV or side-by-side in Ontario.

 

Quebec ATV/UTV Regulations

Quebec has specific regulations when it comes to operating ATVs and UTVs on both roads and trails in the province.

On roads, only those 18 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license can operate an ATV or UTV. The license requirements help ensure all operators have undergone proper testing and have demonstrated the necessary skills to safely drive these vehicles on public roads.

For trails, a valid permit is required to operate an ATV or side-by-side on the extensive network of trails maintained by off-road vehicle clubs across Quebec. Permits help fund trail maintenance and development. They also serve as proof that the operator has permission to use the trails and has likely reviewed the specific rules in place.

Following the age, license and permit requirements in Quebec helps promote responsible ATV and UTV use. It also aims to maximize the safety of both operators and other recreational trail users across the province.

 

Atlantic Provinces ATV/UTV Regulations

The Atlantic provinces of Canada have their own specific rules when it comes to operating ATVs and UTVs.

 

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, most ATV operators are required to obtain a safety training certificate in order to legally ride on trails or other areas in the province. There are some exemptions to this requirement:

 

  • ATV operators with a valid driver’s license are exempt
  • Operators under the age of 16 riding on private land owned by their immediate family do not need a certificate
  • Visitors can ride for 60 days without a certificate if they have equivalent certification from another jurisdiction

 

Safety training certificates require passing an approved ATV Rider Competency Course. Nova Scotia has strict laws around proper helmets, no passengers under age 14, and no riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

 

New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, all ATVs operated on public land must be registered with the province. To operate an ATV on roads and highways, drivers must hold at least a Class 5 driver’s license.

Helmets are mandatory for all riders under 18 years old. New Brunswick also prohibits carrying passengers under age 14 and has restrictions on where ATVs can be operated.

 

Police-Issued Operation Permits

In some provinces, police have the authority to issue temporary permits allowing ORV operation in certain situations. These special permits provide a legal exception to operate an off-road vehicle on roads or areas where they are typically prohibited.

For example, in British Columbia police can provide permits to allow driving an unlicensed ORV home from the dealership. In Alberta, police permits may be issued if an ORV requires road access to reach a nearby trail system. Permits are usually valid for a short duration such as 24-72 hours.

Police permits include restrictions such as maximum speed limits, time of day usage, travel routes and additional safety requirements. Fines and penalties apply if permit conditions are violated. These special permits are intended for limited, temporary ORV operation only.

Checking with local law enforcement is recommended to understand if and how police permits can provide legal exceptions for ORV use on roads when necessary. While convenient in certain situations, police permits should not be used as a way to frequently bypass licensing and registration requirements.

 

Insurance Requirements

Insurance coverage is an important consideration when operating an ATV or UTV in Canada. Liability insurance in particular is often mandatory, especially if driving on public roads.

Most provinces require a minimum of $200,000 in third-party liability insurance to cover any injuries or property damage that could result from an at-fault accident. This ensures the ATV/UTV driver has adequate coverage to pay out claims if they are liable for damages.

On public highways and roads, valid liability insurance is generally required by law. The minimum mandated coverage varies by province, but ranges from $200,000 to $500,000.

Even off-road and on private property, it is highly recommended to carry liability coverage on your ATV or side-by-side vehicle. Accidents can happen anywhere, so having insurance protects you financially in the event you are sued or held responsible for injuries or property damage.

Besides liability coverage, it’s also advisable to insure the ATV or UTV itself against collision, theft, vandalism, fire, and other risks. This ensures you can repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged or stolen.

Consult your provincial regulatory bodies and insurance providers to understand the mandatory liability coverage and optional physical damage coverage recommended for your specific vehicle and usage. Carrying adequate insurance is a crucial part of responsible and legal ORV operation.

 

Helmet Laws

Most provinces in Canada require the use of helmets when operating an ATV or UTV, both on public roads and off-road trails. Helmet laws help protect riders in the event of an accident or rollover.

In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, approved motorcycle or bicycling helmets are mandatory for all ATV and side-by-side riders. This applies whether driving on trails or roadways. Specific helmet regulations may differ by province, but DOT- or SNELL-approved helmets are recommended.

New Brunswick requires helmets be worn by ATV drivers and passengers under the age of 18. Helmets are also mandatory for all ages on designated trails in the province. The remaining Atlantic provinces currently do not have universal helmet laws, but individual trails and jurisdictions may require them.

Across Canada, properly fitting helmets are crucial safety equipment for ATV and UTV operation. Most major ATV manufacturers themselves also advise riders of all ages wear a helmet when using their vehicles. Following provincial helmet laws and wearing appropriate protective headgear can help reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of an ORV accident.

 

Age Restrictions

There are age restrictions in place across Canada when it comes to operating ATVs and UTVs, both on roads and off-road. Often, you must be at least 16 years old to drive an ATV or side-by-side on public roads. For example, in Ontario you need to hold at least a G2 license, which requires being 16+, to operate an ORV on roads and highways.

On private property, the age limits are often lower. In many provinces, children as young as 12 can operate an ATV unsupervised off-road. However, some provinces like Saskatchewan require ATV operators to be at least 16 even on private land.

So in summary, 16 is the most common minimum age for operating an ATV or UTV on public roads across the country. But off-road, the age limit may be as low as 12 depending on provincial regulations. Always check your local laws before letting a young person drive an ORV.

 

Speed Limits

Speed limits for ATVs and UTVs vary by province but are often significantly lower than regular on-road vehicle speed limits. This is due to the fact that these off-road vehicles have a higher center of gravity and are designed for lower-speed trail riding rather than high-speed road use. Here are some provincial speed limits to be aware of:

 

British Columbia – Maximum 50km/h on roads

Alberta – Maximum 50km/h on roads

Saskatchewan – Maximum 50km/h on roads

Manitoba – Maximum 50km/h on roads

Ontario – Maximum 20km/h on roads

Quebec – Maximum 50km/h on roads

Nova Scotia – Maximum 50km/h on roads

New Brunswick – Maximum 50km/h on roads

 

These lower speed limits aim to promote safety for both ATV/UTV riders and other motorists when these vehicles are operated on public roads. Exceeding posted speed limits can result in fines, so it’s important to obey local speed regulations.

 

Conclusion

In summary, license requirements for operating ATVs and UTVs vary across Canada depending on whether you plan to drive on public roads, private property, or recreational trails. While a valid driver’s license is typically required for road use, the specific class of license can differ by province. For example, Ontario mandates at least a G2, while Alberta simply requires a regular Class 7 learner’s permit.

On private property like farmland or your own backyard, a license is generally not needed to operate an off-road vehicle. However, certain recreational trails and sites may impose additional registration or licensing rules. Always check the regulations at your local riding destination.

Regardless of location, it’s critical that ATV and side-by-side operators carry proper insurance coverage. Safety gear like helmets is also legally required in many areas. Lastly, pay close attention to age limits, speed restrictions, and other provincial traffic laws before hitting the trails on your off-road ride.

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Canadian ATV Licence Rules Q&A

To legally operate an ATV or UTV in Canada, most provinces require you to have at least a learner’s licence such as a Class 7 in Alberta or a G2 in Ontario if driving on roads. Some provinces require a motorcycle licence (M2/M) to operate an ATV on roads. Most provinces require no licence to operate an ATV off-road or on private property. However, there are age restrictions, often starting at 16 years old.

Yes, you need a minimum of $200,000 in third-party liability insurance to operate an ATV or UTV on public land or roads in most provinces. This covers damage or injuries caused to others if you are found at-fault in a collision. Some provinces, like Saskatchewan, require this insurance even if mainly using if off-road.

ATVs and UTVs are considered off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and are regulated differently than cars in Canada. Key safety rules include:

 

– Wearing an approved helmet

– Not carrying passengers unless the vehicle is designed for it

– Not driving while impaired or intoxicated

– Being at least 16 years old in most cases

– Driving at safe speeds for the conditions

Registration and licence plates are required for ATVs driven on public roads or land in most provinces. For example, all ATVs must be registered in Ontario, except in the Far North. Some provinces like Saskatchewan don’t require registration if only driven off-road.

It is difficult to make ATVs street legal across Canada as they lack features like indicators and brakelights required for on-road use. Some provinces have special registration classes for ATVs modified for limited on-road use. For example, in BC an ATV can be registered as a “specialty off-road vehicle” if equipped to safety standards.

Most provinces do not require you to take a practical ATV driving test to get a licence. However, many provinces require you to complete an accredited safety training course if you were born after a certain year, often 1988. These courses cover practical riding skills, the law, and safe practices.

In Ontario, ATVs can only be driven on municipal roads, not provincial highways, if meeting special equipment requirements. Alternatively, some regions exempt ATVs from registration allowing road use if the municipality permits it through by-laws. A G2/G or M2/M licence is required.

In BC, ATVs can only be ridden off-road or on private property by default. They may also be driven on resource roads, forest service roads, and rural side roads if registered as an “ORV” and meeting safety criteria. A driver’s licence is required for road use.

Most provinces require a permit, licence, or trail pass to ride your ATV on public recreational trails, often sold by local clubs. For example, Ontario has the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders Pass. Some trail networks cross provincial borders, so check regulations carefully for the area.

No, Quebec requires all ATV drivers to hold a valid automobile driver’s licence. You must be at least 16 years old to operate an ATV alone or 12-15 years with adult supervision. Those 16-17 must take an approved training course before driving without supervision.

Riding ATVs and other off-road vehicles in National Parks is generally prohibited under federal laws, except if specifically authorized. Rules differ across provincial parks – some allow ATVs on certain trails or campground roads with permits. Always check local regulations.

Yes, you can drive an ATV across provincial borders but requirements around registration, insurance, age limits, where you can ride, and licensing may differ. Get any necessary paperwork before crossing and follow the laws of the province you are riding in. Shared trail systems simplify cross-border rides.

Most provinces prohibit excessively noisy exhaust systems on ATVs and other motor vehicles. For example, BC has a 96-decibel noise limit measured at 50 feet for ATVs. Aftermarket muffler systems designed for closed course competition use may exceed noise limits for public land operation.

The licensing and age requirements for operating an ATV depend on the province. Typically, children under 12-16 can only ride as a passenger with adult supervision. To operate an ATV alone without adult oversight, drivers must be 16+ years in most provinces and hold a valid licence.

Yes, modifying your ATV’s original emissions controls, mufflers, engine tuning or components may be prohibited under provincial laws or federal EPA regulations. Such modifications can also void the manufacturer’s warranty on new machines. Fines for non-compliant modifications may exceed $250.

Helmets certified for motorsports use are mandatory for ATV riders in every Canadian province. Other than helmets, specific safety gear like goggles, gloves, and boots are not legally required but highly recommended for protection. Most areas require ATVs have working brakes, lights, and spark arrestors.

Yes, impaired driving laws and penalties apply to the operation of off-road vehicles like ATVs across Canada while intoxicated. You can have your driver’s licence suspended and fines or jail time applied if caught operating any motor vehicle while drunk, including an ATV.

ATV trail permits are generally available from government offices like Service Ontario and private clubs like the Newfoundland and Labrador All-Terrain Vehicle Federation. Permits help fund trail maintenance. Day passes are available in some areas for occasional riders. Trip planning resources can advise where to purchase.

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