Commercial Vehicle Operators’ Safety Manual

Module 12 - Driver and Vehicle Licensing

Overview

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 or trailers, or a combination of these vehicles, that have a registered gross vehicle 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 Operators’ 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.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing - Learning Objectives

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

  • Describe the vehicle registration requirements.
  • Identify the types of vehicles that can be operated by a holder of each licence class.

Vehicle Registration Requirements

In Ontario, an operator may register commercial vehicles (power units) with a wide range of registered gross weights and or different declarations. Each type of plate provides for different uses and exemptions.  It is crucial that operators register their vehicles appropriately. Failure to do so may result in the operator being charged with an offence and/or having their vehicle detained until proper registration is obtained.

The following is a summary of what uses are authorized under each type of plate. This is an unofficial version of Government of Ontario legal materials. For accurate reference, refer to the official volumes. The Highway Traffic Act and regulations made under the act may be viewed on the E-laws website.

Commercial Vehicle Registration

Section 1(1) of the Highway Traffic Act defines a commercial motor vehicle as follows:

“commercial motor vehicle” unless otherwise defined by regulation, means a motor vehicle having attached to it a truck or delivery body and includes an ambulance, a hearse, a casket wagon, a fire apparatus, a bus and a tractor used for hauling purposes on a highway.

Most commercial motor vehicles must display a plate that has a white background and black lettering. These plates will normally contain two alpha characters with four or five numeric characters.  You can use personalized or graphic-design plates, but need to ensure that they are classified as commercial on the registration.

The plates for a commercial motor vehicle have to be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle in a clear and conspicuous location.  The validation device must be put on the front plate in the upper right corner.  The crown on the plate cannot be covered or obscured by any material.

Unlike personal vehicles, a commercial motor-vehicle validation device expires the last day of the month that is shown on it.

If the commercial motor vehicle is used to travel outside of Ontario, the operator may be required to obtain prorated plates.  Prorated plates are similar to regular commercial motor- vehicle plates, but display the letters PRP on them.  More information on prorated plates and the International Registration Program can be found at:

Registered Gross Weight

To determine the registered gross weight for a commercial motor vehicle, the weight of a trailer must be added to the weight of the commercial motor vehicle if the trailer transmits to the highway a weight greater than 2800 kgs.  The commercial motor vehicle is then registered for the total gross weight of the towing vehicle and trailer combined.

To determine the registered gross weight of a school bus, in kilograms, multiply the seating capacity of the bus by 40 and add it to the empty weight of the bus.  The total will be the registered gross weight.

To determine the registered gross weight of a bus, other than a school bus, in kilograms, multiply the seating capacity of the bus by 60 and add it to the empty weight of the bus.  The total will be the registered gross weight.

The fee tables to determine the cost for validation on commercial motor vehicles, farm vehicles and buses are found in Ontario Regulation 628, Vehicle Permits.

Vehicles that operate in excess of their Registered Gross Weight (RGW) are subject to penalty under HTA 121(1).

Vehicle Licence Plates

Farm Plates

Effective January 1, 2015, new requests for farm plates will require the farmer to provide one of four pieces of documentation to demonstrate they have a farm business.

  • An accredited farm organization membership card;
  • A Gross Farm Income Exemption Certificate;
  • An exemption letter from the Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal; or
  • A letter from Agricorp.

A farmer renewing their farm plates will not have to provide documentation to demonstrate they have a farm business.

Farm plates have reduced fees and are subject to certain restrictions.

Use of farm plates

Farm-plated trucks and towed trailers may be used for the transportation of farm products, commodities, supplies, equipment, and building and maintenance items owned by the farmer. Items include the trucking of gravel, rocks, sand and lumber to a farm for use on the farm.

A farmer may only charge a fee to another farmer for trucking these items during the months of September, October and November.

Farm products do not include products preserved by freezing, pickling, cooking, smoking or curing, other than cured tobacco leaves.

Farm-plated trucks and towed trailers may also be used for the farmer's personal transportation – including the movement of personal effects such as household and hobby effects, as well as recreational and pleasure use.

Prohibited use of farm plates

Vehicles transporting logs, pulpwood or rocks from a forest, quarry or mine cannot use farm plates.

Farm plates and logs/lumber

The cutting of trees for purposes of production of paper by pulp mills, or for purposes of processing these logs for lumber, is a forestry operation.  If it is demonstrated that the transportation of these items is to supply the farm, then farm plates may be used.

Farm plates and rocks/sand/gravel

The removal of rocks or stone is a mining or quarry operation and not related to the tilling or production of an agricultural product by a farmer.  If it is demonstrated that the transportation of these items is to supply the farm, (for example, laneways, building construction, soil erosion), then farm plates may be used.

Dealer Plate and Service Plate

Dealer Plate/Permit

Dealer Plate Sample

Ontario motor-vehicle dealers licensed under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act are eligible for the dealer plate/permit. This is a single portable plate with the word "DEALER" on the left side and red alpha-numeric characters on a white background.

It is for exclusive use by motor-vehicle dealers, and only on those owned as part of the dealer's inventory of vehicles for sale. It may be used privately in Ontario, or for purposes related to the sale of motor vehicles owned as part of the dealer's inventory of those for sale. Commercial motor vehicles operating under the authority of a dealer plate must not be laden (with a load).

Service Plate/Permit

Service Plate Sample

Service providers, including anyone who repairs, customizes, modifies, manufactures or transports motor vehicles or trailers, will use the service plate/permit. This will indicate the service class of "SPR."

A service plate may be used:

  • On a trailer or motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle or motor-assisted bicycle, for purposes related to the repair, road testing, customization or modification of the vehicle, if it is in the possession of the person to whom the service plate is issued
  • For the purpose of transporting the vehicle by a person engaged in that business
  • For the purpose of towing the vehicle by a person engaged in the business of transporting vehicles
  • For purposes related to the manufacturing or sale of a trailer
  • For the purpose of towing a vehicle to a location where its load will be removed or to an impound facility

Commercial motor vehicles and trailers operating under the authority of a service plate must not be laden, unless the vehicle is being towed to an impound facility.

Private use of motor vehicles or trailers with a service plate is not permitted.

If the commercial motor vehicle is being operated in other jurisdictions, refer to the information in the Module 2 "Getting Started” to determine if the vehicle is required to have an International Registration Plan (IRP) Cab Card.

Driver Licensing Requirements

Licence types

In Ontario, there are 15 different licence classes. Each one qualifies a driver to drive a different type of vehicle. The class of licence have must match the type of vehicle driven. See the quick-check chart below for the class of licence required for different vehicle types. A driver may hold a licence in more than one class, but never hold more than one driver’s licence.

Class of Licence Types of Vehicles Allowed May Also Drive Vehicle in Class
A Any tractor trailer or combination of motor vehicle and towed vehicles where the towed vehicles exceed a total gross weight of 4,600 kilograms D, G and A with condition (R)
A with condition (R) Drivers with a restricted Class A licence condition would be prevented from operating:
  • a motor vehicle pulling double trailers
  • a motor vehicle pulling a trailer with air-brakes.
D and G
B Any school-purposes bus with designed seating capacity for more than 24 passengers C, D, E, F and G
C Any regular bus with designed seating capacity for more than 24 passengers D, F and G
D Any truck or motor-vehicle combination exceeding 11,000 kilograms (actual gross weight or registered gross weight), provided the towed vehicle is not over 4,600 kilograms G
E School-purposes bus – maximum of 24-passenger capacity F and G
F Regular bus – maximum of 24-passenger capacity – and ambulances G
G Any car, van or small truck, or combination of vehicle and towed vehicle, up to 11,000 kilograms, provided the towed vehicle is not over 4,600 kilograms, but not:
  1. a motorcycle or motor assisted bicycle
  2. a bus carrying passengers
  3. an ambulance in the course of providing ambulance service as defined in the Ambulance Act
G1 Level 1 of graduated licensing – holders may drive Class G vehicles when accompanied by a fully licensed driver with at least four years of driving experience. Additional conditions apply
G2 Level 2 of graduated licensing – holders may drive Class G vehicles without an accompanying driver, but are subject to certain conditions:
  • The number of young passengers that teen G2 drivers can carry will be limited from midnight to 5 a.m.
  • Initially, G2 drivers 19 or under can carry only one passenger aged 19 or under
After the first six months, and until the G2 driver earns a full G licence or turns 20, they can carry only three passengers aged 19 or under
M Motorcycles, including a limited-speed motorcycle (motor scooter) and a motor-assisted bicycle (moped). Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a class G1 licence-holder M with condition L (motor scooters and mopeds)
M1 Motorcycles, including a limited-speed motorcycle (motor scooter) and a motor-assisted bicycle (moped).
Level 1 of graduated licensing. Holders may drive a motorcycle under certain conditions
M with condition L (motor scooters and mopeds)
M2 Motorcycles, including a limited-speed motorcycle (motor scooter) and a motor-assisted bicycle (moped).
Level 2 of graduated licensing. Holders may drive a motorcycle, but only with a zero blood-alcohol level. Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a class G1 licence-holder
M with condition L (motor scooters and mopeds)
M with condition L (LSM/Moped) Limited-speed motorcycle or mopeds only. Limited-speed motorcycles are motorcycles with a maximum speed of 70 km/h. If manufactured after 1988, they are identified by a label on the vehicle that indicates it is a "LSM/MVL." For full description, visit: www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/lsm.shtml
M2 with condition L (LSM/Moped) Limited-speed motorcycle (LSM) or moped only

Driver-licence testing is done by Drive Testoffices throughout the province. General information on driver licensing can be on theMTO website

Air Brakes

Any driver operating a vehicle equipped with a full air-brake system, or air-over-hydraulic brake system, is required to have an endorsement on their driver’s licence. In Ontario, this is called a "Z” endorsement.

Exemptions

A driver of a class D commercial motor vehicle that is registered with farm plates carrying farm products, supplies or equipment not for compensation, or being used for personal use is required only to have a Class G licence.  

A truck or auto technician with a minimum Class G licence is allowed to operate any higher class of vehicle for the purposes of road testing, including a vehicle with air brakes.

A driver of a tow truck towing a disabled vehicle is exempt from a Class A driver’s licence, provided that they have the appropriate licence to drive the tow truck.

Qualifications, Records and Reporting

An operator is responsible to monitor a driver’s performance by obtaining copies of all convictions in any vehicle and collisions in CVOR type vehicles involving an employed driver.

The operator must ensure that the drivers are qualified for the respective vehicles and the operator must obtain a MTO 3-year driver abstract on every driver at least once a year.

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