Commercial Vehicle Operators’ Safety Manual

Module 11 - Vehicle Weights and Dimensions


The Carrier Safety and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario has prepared this guide to assist and ensure that truck and bus companies (commercial vehicle operators) operate safely and are compliant with the regulations that govern highway use. Ontario, other provinces, the Government of Canada and the transportation industry developed the rules and regulations to help reduce the number and severity of collisions. Each jurisdiction has used the National Safety Code standards as guides in drafting their own transportation safety legislation. This approach promotes uniformity across Canada and helps to ensure that the transportation industry remains as viable and sustainable as possible.

This guide applies to Ontario operators of commercial motor vehicles that are:

  • Trucks, tractors, mobile equipment vehicles or trailers and/or any combination of these vehicles that have a registered gross weight or actual weight of more than 4,500 kilograms
  • Tow trucks, regardless of registered gross weight or actual weight
  • Buses with a manufactured seating capacity of 10 persons or more, excluding the driver
  • Accessible vehicles and school purposes vehicles, depending upon use

The guide contains several modules, each dealing with a specific topic. To get a complete picture of compliance requirements, you should obtain the complete guide. If you intend to use certain parts of this guide only (for example, Module 1, "Getting Started”) it is recommended that you also obtain the modules "Introduction” and "Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration.”

This is a guide only and is not meant to be a substitute for the relevant statutes and regulations. This guide highlights some important legal provisions but is not an exhaustive description of all the laws that apply.

Vehicle Weights and Dimensions - Learning Objectives

As you work through this module, you will be able to:

  • Understand the need for overweight and oversize permits.
  • Describe carrier responsibilities.
  • Identify legal dimensions and weights.
  • Determine which vehicles require permits and the specific conditions that apply.
  • Identify the types of permits available.
  • Obtain the latest road information, through the Traveller’s Information Website.
  • Obtain information on safe, productive, infrastructure-friendly (SPIF) vehicles.

Ministry of Transportation Permits

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) monitors, controls and issues permits for the movement of vehicles or combination vehicles that do not comply with dimensional limits under the Highway Traffic Act. MTO establishes maximum weight and dimension limits for any vehicle using public roads, and makes provisions for the movement of oversize and overweight loads by issuing permits. This is done for the following purposes:

  • To ensure the safety of the travelling public
  • To minimize the inconvenience to the travelling public
  • To minimize damage to the roadway infrastructure
  • To facilitate the movement of commodities that are non-divisible, deemed impractical to divide or uneconomical to transport at legal dimensions
  • To establish and communicate to the operator a set of conditions for the safe movement of the load
  • To prevent damage to the operator’s vehicles and load


It is the responsibility of the carrier to consult the legislation for the exact requirements and to obtain all required permits before moving any oversize or overweight shipment.

MTO’s Oversize/Overweight Permit Office is not responsible for any omissions in these documents. Further, MTO is not responsible for incomplete, inaccurate or missing permits.

Descriptions of vehicle types, with detailed, current legal dimensions and oversize/overweight vehicle and loads, are both available on the MTO website:

Oversize/Overweight Vehicles and Loads in Ontario

Safe, Productive and Infrastructure-Friendly Vehicles

Legal Dimensions (Size)

Width: 2.6 metres (8’ 6”)

Height: 4.15 metres (13’ 6”)


  • Single Vehicle 12.5 metres (41’0”)
  • Truck-tractor and semi-trailer(s) 23.0 metres (75’6”)
  • Truck and towed trailer(s) in combination 23.0 metres (75’6”)

Legal Weights

MTO establishes maximum vehicle weights to preserve highway infrastructure and ensure public safety. Legal weights are dependent on a variety of factors, including the number of axles and so on.

Vehicle weights and dimensions are detailed in Regulation 413/05 of the Highway Traffic Act.

Oversize/Overweight Permit Process

Permits are required for the movement of vehicles and their loads that exceed the legal weights. Conditions are applied to the permits to minimize infrastructure damage and enhance public safety.

Permits are required for the movement of vehicles and loads that exceed the legal dimensions.

To obtain more information about oversize/overweight vehicles, contact the Oversize/Overweight Permit Office:

From Ontario, 1-800-387-7736
From out of province, (416) 246-7166
Fax-in permit request, (905) 704-2545

Prior to obtaining an over-dimensional permit, there may be other requirements that must be met in order to travel in Ontario (for example, Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration, National Safety Code and so on).

There are four types of permits that the ministry issues:

  • Annual
  • Project
  • Single trip
  • Special vehicle configuration.

Each oversize/overweight permit will have specific conditions attached, and these must be adhered to strictly. The permit may be terminated for breach of any condition, and the permit-holder may be subject to prosecution.

A permit grants the movement of oversize/overweight loads only on highways under provincial jurisdiction. Municipalities may accept ministry permits or issue their own for highways under their jurisdiction. The carrier must contact appropriate municipalities to ensure compliance with the local bylaws.

For further information, go to the Oversized/Overweight Guide or contact:

Oversize/Overweight Permits
301 St. Paul Street, 3rd Floor
St Catharines, ON L2R 7R4
Tel: 1-800-387-7736 (within Ontario only) or 416-246-7166

Long Combination Vehicle (LCV) Permits and Routes

In Canada, any combination of vehicles over 25 metres overall length is considered to be an LCV. Ontario LCVs are made up of a tractor pulling two full-length semi-trailers up to 40 metres in overall length.

LCV Program has established stringent program conditions governing operators, drivers, special LCV equipment and LCV operations. The conditions are specific, and structured to achieve safety, environmental and economic objectives for the program.

Participating operators are responsible for verifying that drivers and instructors meet the specified qualifications, training and experience, and have obtained an Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) issued certificate. This includes ensuring that:

  • LCV drivers are proven safe and reliable tractor trailer operators with a minimum of 5 years experience.
  • All LCV drivers successfully complete specified LCV driver training that includes classroom, yard and on-road training and evaluation including at least 1,000 km of practical LCV experience.
  • LCV instructors have at least 10,000 km of LCV experience.
Tractor Trailer
Existing tractor trailer
(Max. Weight 63,500 kg)
Double Trailer
Existing double trailer
(Max. Weight 63,500 kg)
(Max. Weight 63,500 kg)

Operators are required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Transportation signifying that the operator accepts responsibilities as outlined in the program conditions. All approved operators must maintain a satisfactory Carrier Safety Rating, not just in their LCV operations, but in all their operations.

Strict guidelines detailing the vehicle configuration, dimensions and weight allowances are specified in the permit conditions. LCVs cannot be heavier than single tractor-trailers. LCVs are required to have special equipment including horsepower minimums, on-board speed recording devices, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), additional lighting, rear signage and electronic stability control (ESC).

LCV permits have specific and detailed operating restrictions that outline where and when participants may operate these vehicles. Permit conditions outline that LCVs may only operate on approved routes, must not detour off approved routes for any reason, including for road closures, and must not operate on any routes on the evening preceding and the last evening of long weekends.

LCVs must not exceed a speed of 90 km/h, and must not travel in the Greater Toronto Area or parts of the Ottawa area during morning and afternoon rush hours. LCVs are not permitted to carry livestock or dangerous goods requiring a placard. LCVs must not operate during inclement weather, poor visibility or poor road conditions.

Information on this program can be found on MTO’s website.

Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly (SPIF) Vehicles

As the name implies, SPIF vehicles are designed to be as productive as possible, while ensuring that their performance characteristics meet or exceed national guidelines for minimizing heavy-truck damage to roads and bridges.

Highway Traffic Act regulations are now causing a migration to 31 SPIF alternatives. Each has its own schedule in the regulation describing the vehicle, its axles, suspension and other required equipment, as well as required dimensions and allowable weights. SPIF vehicles can have any body style and carry any commodity. There are no weight reductions for carrying products like sand or gravel.

These vehicles provide superior stability and control, and can operate within acceptable amounts of space when turning or making emergency manoeuvres. In addition, the heavy five- and six-axle SPIF semi-trailers are equipped with an enhanced braking system to minimize the risk of failure and warn the driver of potential problems.

Characteristics of SPIF vehicles are carefully prescribed and include that the vehicles must be:

  • Equipped with fixed axles, or a combination of fixed and self-steering axles, that do not need to be raised for cornering
  • Able to automatically distribute weight over all axles to minimize infrastructure wear
  • Tested against national performance targets to ensure satisfactory stability and control, and reduced risk of rollovers and jack-knives

The following flowchart will aid in determining the grandfathering or your particular vehicle:

Vehicle Grandfathering Flowchart

More Information

The amended Ontario Regulation 413/05 of the Highway Traffic Act, titled Vehicle Weights and Dimensions – for Safe, Productive and Infrastructure-Friendly Vehicles, is available through the e-laws website e-laws website.

Non-SPIF vehicles, excluding 53-foot semi-trailers and other long tractor-trailer combinations, can legally operate in Ontario at reduced gross vehicle weights under what is now a vehicle weights and dimensions, two-tier system.

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