Tow truck operators – instructions to apply for a Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR)

December 2016


Step-by-step instructions to apply for a Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) certificate.

Information on towing-relevant modules within the Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Safety Manual.

Instructions for navigating through this tutorial

On a computer keyboard use:

  • The arrow keys;
  • Or the Page Up and Page Down keys

New Requirement

Starting January 1, 2017, all tow truck operators will need a CVOR certificate.

A copy of the CVOR certificate must be kept in each commercial vehicle, including each tow truck.

Tow truck operators are required to register for CVOR as soon as possible.

CVOR is the registration system used to track the on-road safety performance of truck and bus operators in Ontario.

Who is the Operator?

It is the operator that must apply for the CVOR.

The operator is the person or legal entity (person/company operating the business) responsible for all drivers and vehicles.

A company may have several drivers; but only one CVOR is required.

So….. How do I apply for my CVOR certificate?

CVOR Application

The first thing you need to do is complete the CVOR application form.

Download it from the MTO website; or

Request a copy by contacting MTO Carrier Sanctions and Investigation Office at 1-800-387-7736

To download the application click on the link:

Click ‘Get or Renew CVOR Certificate’ on the left hand menu.

screen shot of the CVOR webpage

On the ‘Get a CVOR certificate’ page, click ‘Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) Application’.

screen shot of the CVOR webpage

Once you get to the screen shown below, right click on “Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) Application’ link and follow the directions to save the application form.

Screen shot of the webpage with the CVOR application

Once the application opens you can:

  • Print it and complete it by hand; or
  • Enter the information directly on the form and print a copy when you are done.

copy of the CVOR application

If you are completing the application online, click on the blue sections called ‘instructions’ for additional information.

image of the CVOR application

Method of payment is chosen in Section 9.

If you are paying by credit card, the ‘credit card authorization’ form is also required.

Select ‘Credit Card’ as method of payment from the drop down menu  and click on the ‘Credit Card Authorization Form’ link.

image of the payment section of the CVOR application

Right click on “Credit Card Authorization Form’ link and follow the directions to save the application form.

screen shot of the Central Forms Repository

Make sure you carefully review and complete each section of the application.

Incomplete applications will be returned to you – delaying processing time.

Pay particular attention to the signatures required in Section 8.

Submit your completed application and $250 fee by mail or FAX.

Image of the Ministry of Transportation's address and FAX number.

What’s next?

image of a sign that says 'notice CVOR Test Required'

Before a CVOR certificate is issued, applicants are required to pass a CVOR written test.

After you submit your application, MTO will send you a ‘CVOR Test Required” letter.

The letter provides detailed instructions on what is required and next steps.

Read the letter carefully.

The test must be passed within 6 months

CVOR Test Required Letter

image of the CVOR Test Required Letter

Who Can Write The Test?

Must be written by owner,  sole proprietor, partner, corporate officer or director of a corporation.

The letter will indicate who is allowed to write the test.

You must bring your CVOR written test letter to DriveTest with you when you are ready to write the test.

Read the letter carefully.

Cost: $32 for each attempt.

Where Is the Test Written?

At any DriveTest location.

To find a location near you, click on this link:

image of the DriveTest webpage

If you ONLY operate tow trucks, you must tell staff at DriveTest that you are a tow truck operator before you write the test.

What Happens Next?

Once you pass the CVOR test, your CVOR certificate will be sent to you.

When you receive the certificate, make copies and put one in each of your tow trucks.

image of a CVOR certificate

How to prepare for the test?

The test questions are based on information in the Commercial Vehicle Operator's Safety Manual.

The manual can be found on the ministry’s website:

Image of the front page of the manual.

Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Safety Manual

Click ‘Commercial Vehicle Operators Safety Manual’ on the left hand menu.

screen shot of the MTO webpage

The manual is divided into modules.

Modules are the different topics or sections of the manual.

screen shot of the MTO webpage.

What’s on the Test?

The test includes, but is not limited to the following topics:

  • Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (Module 4);
  • Ontario Specific Enforcement Issues such as speed limiters and commercial vehicle impoundment (Module 5);
  • Periodic Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspections (Module 8);
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing (Module 12);
  • Cargo Securement (Module 14).

The next few sections provide an overview of these topics; however, they are not intended to replace the manual.  Tow truck operators are encouraged to review the entire manual.

The modules can be viewed online by clicking on the links for each of the titles; or

You can download and print a PDF.

screen shot of the MTO webpage.

What is CVOR and how does it work?

  • The CVOR system and the Carrier Safety Rating program were developed as part of Ontario's ongoing commitment to road safety.
  • These programs promote the safe operation of trucks and buses on Ontario's roadways.
  • MTO monitors operators and assigns each operator a violation rate and safety rating based on several factors:
    • Collisions.
    • Inspections.
    • Convictions, as well as the results of facility audits.
  • The CVOR system monitors an operator's on-road safety record over a two-year period. This automated computer system contains information that includes:
    • Operator information
    • Convictions
    • Reportable collisions
    • Safety inspections
    • Ministry interventions (for example, letters, interviews, audits and sanctions)

The Operator

  • The operator is responsible for:
    • The conduct of the driver
    • The mechanical safety condition of the vehicle
    • The goods or passengers on the vehicle.
  • These responsibilities include but are not limited to:
    • Employing qualified and licensed drivers
    • Monitoring the safety performance of drivers
    • Resolving driver safety issues when they are identified
    • Keeping vehicles in good, safe condition at all times
    • Ensuring load security


  • Officers conduct inspections according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance standards, which are applied by all jurisdictions across North America.
  • Inspections can result in the following findings:
    • Defects
    • Out-of-service defects
    • Critical defects that can cause the vehicle to be impounded
  • Defects that do not meet the minimum standard (e.g. serious defects related to both drivers and vehicles) are considered out-of-service.

Commercial Vehicle Impoundment

  • When mechanical vehicle defects exceed the critical defect criteria, the ministry may impound the vehicle. 
    • A vehicle with a critical defect would be in far worse condition than a vehicle that just meets the out-of-service criteria.
  • The vehicle must remain at the impound facility for the designated period.
  • The vehicle owner may claim the vehicle after all costs associated with the towing, removal and impoundment have been paid.
  • The vehicle must then be certified as safe before it can go back on the highway.
    • Vehicle repairs must be done at a motor vehicle inspection station following removal from the impound facility.

Periodic Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspections

  • In addition to the inspections conducted by MTO enforcement officers or police, some commercial vehicles are subject to mandatory periodic inspections.
  • Trucks, trailers and converter dollies alone, or in combination with a total Gross Weight, Registered Gross Weight or manufacturer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating greater than 4,500 kg require an inspection every 12 months.
    • Gross Weight is the actual weight of the vehicle, passengers and load.
    • Registered Gross Weight determines the fee paid for a truck licence plates
  • In Ontario, inspections must be completed by a licensed mechanic at an MTO-licensed inspection station.
  • Once a truck, trailer or converter dollie has passed inspection, a sticker must be applied to the vehicle.
    sticker: image of an annual inspection decal
  • The inspection station must also provide inspection certificates and reports.
  • Inspection certificates are produced in triplicate: one copy is to be kept with the vehicle; one copy for the vehicle file/operator; and one copy for the inspection station.

Speed Limiters

  • A speed limiter is an electronic device installed in heavy trucks that caps the speed at a maximum of 105 km/h.
  • Most large trucks driven in Ontario are required to use speed limiters.
    • Applies to those built after December 31, 1994, with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of 11, 794 kg or more, and is equipped with an electronic control module.
    • Exemptions apply to some vehicles (e.g. ambulances, fire trucks).
  • Police and MTO enforcement officers use traffic-control techniques and portable electronic testing units to verify the activation of a vehicle speed limiter at a maximum of 105 km/h.

Vehicle Licensing

  • Most commercial motor vehicles must display a licence plate that has a white background and black lettering.
  • The plates for a commercial vehicle have to be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle in a clear and conspicuous location.
  • The validation (sticker) must be put on the front plate in the upper right corner.
  • It is important for operators to register their vehicles appropriately.
  • Vehicles that operate in excess of their Registered Gross Weight are subject to penalty under the Highway Traffic Act section 121 (1).

Driver Licensing

  • In Ontario, there are 15 different licence classes.
  • Each one qualifies a driver to drive a different type of vehicle.
  • The class of licence must match the type of vehicle driven.
  • 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.
  • A driver must ensure that they are properly qualified for the vehicle they are driving.

Cargo Securement

  • Load-securement requirements are found in Section 111 of the Highway Traffic Act and in Ontario Regulation 363/04.
  • This regulation adopts National Safety Code Standard 10, Cargo Securement, as the standard for securing loads in Ontario.
  • It is an offence if any load or portion of the load may become dislodged or fall, leak, spill or blow from the vehicle.
  • Each tie-down must be attached and secured so that it doesn’t become loose, unfastened, opened or released while the vehicle is moving.
  • All tie-downs must be marked by the manufacturer with a working load limit.

To Recap

  • Apply for your CVOR certificate and pay $250
  • Prepare for the CVOR Written Test
  • Pass CVOR Written Test
  • Receive your CVOR certificate and keep a copy in each vehicle

For additional information or assistance with your CVOR application, contact the ministry:
By phone:

  • 1-800-387-7736 (within Ontario) or 1-416-246-7166

By fax:

  • 905-704-2039 or 905-704-2525

By Email:

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