ATV Regulations in Canada

Anthea Miscellaneous

If you own an ATV or plan on using one this summer, it’s important that you understand the regulations that govern ATV use. Regulations allow certain All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) to have greater access to the shoulder and paved portions of some Ontario highways. This change became effective July 31, 2003 and applies only to ATVs with the following characteristics:

  1. Four wheels, with all tires in contact with the ground;
  2. Steering handlebars;
  3. A seat that is designed to be straddled by the driver;
  4. Designed to carry a driver only (no passengers).

These regulations do not apply to other types of off-road vehicles. Qualified ATVs (as described above) are now permitted to operate on the shoulder of certain highways* provided they:

  1. Travel in the same direction as traffic;
  2. Move to the traveled portion of the highway only if the shoulder is impassable/unsafe;
  3. Observe a speed limit that is lower than the posted limits (maximum 20 km/h where the posted limit is 50 km/h or less, maximum 50 km/h where the posted limit is over 50 km/h);
  4. Do not carry passengers.

ATV Licence and Registration Requirements

Here is a list of some of the most important ATV regulations that you will want to keep in mind:

  1. The law requires that all riders wear an approved motorcycle helmet and have a valid G2/M2 or greater driver’s licence when operating on a permitted road.
  2. All ATVs must be registered with the Ministry of Transportation and have a valid permit – this includes vehicles that are operated exclusively on your own property.
  3. ATVs can not be registered to anyone under the age of 16.
  4. Persons under 12 years of age are not permitted to drive an ATV except on land occupied by the vehicle owner and while under close supervision of an adult.
  5. In Ontario, ATVs must be insured under an Automobile Policy. Call us to make sure you’re covered.
  6. Enforcement personnel have instituted a zero tolerance for those who choose to ride without the necessary documentation. Those riding without a licence or insurance will face stiff penalties and fines.

Visit and go to Ontario Regulation 316/03 “Operation of Off-Road Vehicles on Highways” for more information. Also note that ATVs are prohibited from all 400 series highways, the Trans Canada Highway and the Queen Elizabeth Way. Other Ontario highways may have limited access and/or restricted areas. Refer to the website for a full list.

Disclaimer: The articles which appear in this publication represents the opinions of the authors and do not represent or embody any official position of, or statement by IBAO; Nor do they attempt to set forth definitive action standards or to provide legal advise.