Drive an Off-Road Vehicle ORV

Effective July 1, 2020, the province expanded the type of ORVs permitted on-road. The change includes:

  • Allowing Extreme Terrain Vehicles (XTVs), as well as Off-Road Motorcycles (ORMs) on the shoulder of public roads, where permitted.
  • XTVs are off road vehicles with six or eight wheels all in contact with the ground -- ORMs are off road vehicles with two wheels in contact with the ground.

ORVs are year-round utility and recreational vehicles that can offer hours of enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts, as long as they obey the law and follow safety precautions. The information provided on this page will help you enjoy your ORV safely.

Smart Ride Safe Ride ORV Handbook

The Smart Ride Safe Ride handbook outlines the rules and requirements for ORVs. It will tell you:

  • where you can ride your ATV/ORV
  • who can drive an ATV/ORV in Ontario
  • the road rules you need to follow
  • how to be a safe and responsible ATV/ORV rider

Read the Smart Ride Safe Ride handbook (PDF - 3.81 MB)

Test your All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety Knowledge

For more detailed information on the legal requirements for driving an ORV in Ontario, consult the Off-Road Vehicles Act (ORVA) and the Highway Traffic Act.

On-road riding

ORV requirements

Some ORVs can travel along certain provincial highways and on municipal roads, if the municipality has a bylaw permitting on-road ORV use. ORVs permitted include: ATVs, Two-Up All-Terrain Vehicles, Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV), Recreational Off Highway Vehicles (ROV), XTVs, and ORMs. With the exception of ORMs and XTVs, ORVs must have a compliance label certifying it to one of the standards listed in s.10 of Ontario Regulation 316/03.

Please consult with Ontario Regulation 316/03, for their legal definition.

Of note: XTVs and ORMs are only permitted on municipal road if a by-law is passed after July 1, 2020. By-laws created before this date that permitted off-road vehicles on-road do not apply to these additional vehicle types. Please consult with your local municipality before riding to see if you are allowed on-road.

Where to ride

Permitted ORVs can travel on:

  • Highways 500 to 899
  • many 7000-series highways
  • highways with low traffic volumes

ORVs cannot travel on:

  • 400-series highways
  • the Queen Elizabeth Way
  • sections of the Trans-Canada Highway

For a complete list of provincial highways where on-road ATV/ORV/XTV/ORM use is permitted, please refer to Ontario Regulation 316/03, Schedule B and for a list of provincial highways where on-road use is prohibited, please refer to Ontario Regulation 316/03, Schedule A.

For a list of highways in Ontario where ATVs are prohibited from crossing, please check Schedule 1 of Regulation 863 of the Off-Road Vehicles Act.

Who can ride

For on-road riding, an ORV driver must:

  • be at least 16 years old
  • hold at least a valid G2 or M2 licence
  • wear an approved motorcycle helmet, securely fastened under the chin with a chin strap
  • wear a seat belt, where provided
  • travel at speeds less than the posted speed limit, as outlined below.

For on-road riding, a passenger on an ORV*:

  • cannot be under the age of eight
  • must wear a seat belt or use foot rests, when applicable
  • must wear an approved motorcycle helmet, securely fastened under the chin with a chin strap.

*Passengers are not permitted on off-road motorcycles (ORMs)

Rules of the road

ORVs on the road must travel at speeds less than the posted speed limit:

  • no more than 20 km/h on roads with a posted speed limit of 50 km/h or less
  • no more than 50 km/h on roads with a posted speed limit greater than 50 km/h

Municipalities may set lower speed limits or additional rules for ATVs/ORVs/XTVs/ORMs.

*ORVs travelling along a road must:

  • be driven in the same direction as traffic
  • travel on the shoulder - if the shoulder is unsafe or impassable or not wide enough, an ORVs can be driven on the travelled portion of the road
  • have headlights and tail lights on*

*XTV and ORMs sometimes do not come equipped with lighting and as such lighting is optional during daytime but is a mandatory requirement when riding at night or when the weather is unfavourable. Please outfit your XTV/ORM with front and rear lighting accordingly.

Off-road riding

Your vehicle

For off-road riding, your ORV must be registered and display a rear licence plate (except in exempt areas like far northern Ontario). It must be insured under a motor vehicle liability policy.

Who can drive

For off-road riding, an ORV driver must:

  • be at least 12 years old, unless directly supervised by an adult or while driving on land occupied by the  owner of the ORV
  • carry the ORV's registration permit or a true copy

Drivers and passengers must wear an approved motorcycle helmet, securely fastened under the chin with a chin strap.

Where to ride –Crossing a Highway

The driver can directly cross a highway on an ORV where permitted only if:

  • it is registered and displays a rear licence plate
  • it is insured under a motor vehicle liability policy
  • the driver is at least 16 years old and has a valid driver's licence of any class
  • the driver and passengers are wearing approved motorcycle helmets, securely fastened under the chin with a chin strap

For a list of highways in Ontario where ORVs are prohibited from crossing, please check Off-Road Vehicles Act.

Exemptions

Exemptions can be found in the Ontario Regulation 316/03.

Farmers and trappers and public work employees are exempt from ORV width and weight restrictions while performing commercial duties. Additionally, municipalities in Far Northern Ontario may prohibit the use of ORVs on certain roads. Highways operating through crown land may also be restricted if the local authority has chosen to restrict access to ORV riders.

XTVs and ORMs are exempted from being required to have a compliance label certifying them to one of the standards listed in s.10 of Ontario Regulation 316/03.

Be a safe and responsible rider

  • take an ORV safety course and learn to ride from an expert
  • know your ORV and read its operator's manual before you ride
  • if you’re planning on operating on-road, before you ride check with your local municipality to see if they have a by-law permitting you to ride along roadways.
  • when driving on-road, remember that graduated licensing requirements apply to young and novice drivers
  • do a pre-ride inspection and check oil, gas and other fluid levels, lights, brakes and tire pressure
  • stay in control – never ride beyond your skill level or abilities
  • always ride according to trail, road and weather conditions
  • use extreme caution when turning, crossing, climbing and descending hills – always cross obstacles using the proper technique
  • drive sober – it's against the law to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs – they will affect your judgement and slow your reaction time
  • ride with others and always let someone know where you're going and when you expect to return
  • be responsible and courteous, and respect others on the trail
  • ride in designated areas only
  • preserve the environment and keep noise levels low

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