Off-Road Vehicle Management Framework
The Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Management Framework was launched in 2009, with the goal of establishing comprehensive rules for off-road vehicle use in British Columbia. The ORV Framework was developed in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.
The ORV Framework helped lend direction to a number of amendments to B.C. laws. This culminated on March 24, 2014 when Bill 13, the Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Act, received Royal Assent. The ORV Act promises certainty, safety and regulatory structure for thousands of off-road enthusiasts.
The ORV Act replaces the 40-year-old Motor Vehicle (All Terrain) Act with a modern management structure, designed to align with existing regulatory regimes at minimal cost. It provides specific rules governing British Columbia’s growing off-road sector, and helps ensure these vehicles are driven in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
Implementation of mandatory registration and the new ORV safety laws commences on November 1, 2015 via amendments to the ORV Regulation.
Along with other key legislation, including the Motor Vehicle Act and the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Off-Road Vehicle Act is essential to the effective implementation of the ORV Management Framework.
Key components of the ORV Management Framework include:
Expanded definition of ORVs:
- ORV laws apply to a wide range of vehicles operated on Crown land.
- ORVs are used for work and leisure purposes.
- Types of ORVs include snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (aka “Quads”), off-road motorcycles (i.e. dirt bikes), side-by-sides (e.g. “argos”, “rhinos” and “razors”) and, to address safety/use matters, small on-highway motor vehicles (e.g. jeeps, trucks, SUVs).
- Effective November 1, 2015, in order to use or operate an ORV on Crown land, ORV owners must register their off-road vehicle and clearly display an ICBC number plate or sticker. Some exemptions apply. For more details, please visit ICBC's website on ORV registration or refer to the Q&A document. Registration under the ORV Act has been aligned with the Motor Vehicle Act to help keep costs low for the systems upgrade.
- The registration fee is one-time and user-pay; it will be $48 for an ORV owner to register their ORV and the same applies for subsequent transfers of ownership.
- The improved ORV registration scheme, along with a visible number plate (or sticker), will better assist officers in identifying irresponsible ORV riders, help track down stolen ORVs and assists in search and rescue efforts in finding lost or injured riders.
- Implementation of the new registration system will be implemented by ICBC and over 900 brokers across BC. To find a broker near you, visit the ICBC web site.
- As with other vehicles, proof of ownership and payment of applicable taxes must be provided at time of registration. For detailed information on Provincial Sales Tax see the Ministry of Finance notice to off-road vehicle owners.
- In terms of out of province ORVs, owners must register their ORV in their home jurisdiction if registration or licensing is available in their home jurisdiction (e.g. ORVs from Alberta). Out of province ORV owners that do not have registration or licensing available in their home jurisdiction (e.g. ATVs from Saskatchewan) must carry proof of ownership documentation when riding on BC Crown land.
The Off-Road Vehicle Act requires all ORV riders to wear a safety helmet, use lights for low-visibility conditions and, where applicable, wear seatbelts.
- Seatbelts will be required to be worn, where installed by the manufacturer. For example, on side-by-side vehicles such as utility terrain vehicles and SUVs.
- Lights must be used during low visibility conditions. In cases where an ORV is not manufactured with lights, then bike lights affixed to the ORV will suffice.
Measures to better protect children under 16 years include:
- mandatory adult supervision by persons 19 years of age with either a valid driver’s licence or have completed a certified training course for the class of ORV.
- Children must only ride an ORV if they meet the manufacturer’s minimum age requirement.
- A child cannot drive an ORV with a passenger.
- Some exemptions apply, such as 14-15 year olds with appropriate training and written permission from their parent or guardian.
Compliance and Enforcement:
- The Off-Road Vehicle Act provides improved enforcement tools to better assist officers in addressing irresponsible ORV riders that endanger others, harm animals or damage sensitive habitat such as grasslands and wetlands.
- On June 1, 2015, the Motor Vehicle (All Terrain) Act was repealed and the Off-Road Vehicle Act provisions came into force which gives officers the ability to stop, inspect and, where appropriate, seize ORVs for safety or evidence purposes. The maximum fine for offences has increased from $500 to $5,000 and some offences include up to six months in jail.
- Starting November 1, 2015, ORV riders will be required to carry government issued photo identification to help officers better identify reckless riders and establish their age; this applies to persons 12 years and older. Fines for violation tickets have also increased; for example, careless operation of an ORV increased from $115 to $368 and operating an unregistered ORV on Crown land increased from $58 to $230.
- A key element of the ORV Management Framework is the provincial approach to compliance and enforcement that is underway with the broader resource management sector.
- Anyone who witnesses a contravention of the Off-Road Vehicle Act is encouraged to call the Natural Resource Violations hotline at 1 844 NRO-TIPS (1 844 676-8477).
Public Road/Highway Crossings:
All ORVs used for work or leisure purposes will be able to safely and more conveniently cross or traverse portions of public roads and highways at designated locations.
For example, amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, Division 24 allow off-road vehicle operators greater access to highways , including the ability to:
- Cross a highway without having to obtain an operation permit if the crossing is controlled by a stop sign or traffic light.
- Travel on any highway anywhere local police authorize within the limits set out in an operation permit.
- Load or unload in a parking lot without an operation permit.
- Obtain an operation permit with an extended term of up to two years.
- All other Motor Vehicle Act requirements on highways have not changed. When in doubt, ORV operators should contact local law enforcement to inquire about whether an operation permit is required.
Improved road/highway crossings under the Motor Vehicle Act continue to be implemented in stages by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. These crossings will connect our rural communities and support a world-class ORV trail network.
Amendments to the Forest Service Road Use Regulation:
- a snowmobile operator may cross a ploughed Forest Service Road if they have a valid driver’s license, $200,000 third party liability insurance, and both the driver and passenger must wear a helmet. In addition, the snowmobile operator must yield the right of way to other traffic, exercise due care and attention and take reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons using the Forest Service Road.
- In terms of other types of ORVs, the status quo requirements on a Forest Service Road continues to apply, such as a valid driver’s license and having a minimum of $200,000 in third party liability insurance.
- The Forest and Range Practices Act and Forest Practices and Planning Regulation were amended in 2007 to add penalties for irresponsible ORV operators that damage sensitive habitat.
- All ORVs are required to have spark arrestors to meet requirements under Wildfire Act regulations.
- On November 1, 2015, ORVs used or operated on Crown land must comply with mandatory registration and safety requirements under the ORV Act and regulations. For more details, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions page.
- Off-road vehicle registration mandatory on Nov. 1 - October 15, 2015
- Frequently Asked Questions - October 15, 2015
- Voluntary ORV registration extended to Nov. 1 - May 20, 2015
- Off-road vehicle registration available Monday, Nov. 17 – November 7, 2014
- Off-road vehicle legislation will keep B.C.’s backcountry safe – March 2014
- ORV Legislation will keep BCs Backcountry Safe – February 24, 2014
- Snowmobile closure in force to protect caribou habitat – February 7, 2014
- Public encouraged to help protect local habitats – August 1, 2013
- A Collaborative Approach to ORV Management – November 10, 2009
- B.C. Manages Off-Road Vehicles – November 10, 2009
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Phone: 250 356-5261