Off-Road Vehicles

Last updated on January 31, 2024

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Off-road vehicles (ORVs) are increasingly popular across British Columbia, both for work and leisure purposes. 

Off-Road Vehicle Management Framework

British Columbia’s Off-Road Vehicle Management Framework promotes the safe and responsible use of ORVs on Crown land and prescribed private lands.

The ORV Framework brings:

  • A modern registration scheme to help officers track down stolen ORVs and better identify irresponsible ORV riders who endanger others, harm animals or damage sensitive areas
  • Improved safety laws for adults and children to reduce ORV-related injuries and deaths
  • More effective compliance and enforcement tools

The new Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Act and Off-Road Vehicle Regulation is central to implementing the ORV Management Framework, along with opportunities to connect rural communities and ORV trail systems through improved road access, where appropriate:

What's an off-road vehicle?

ORV laws now apply to a wide range of vehicles used or operated for work or leisure purposes on Crown land and prescribed private land. Under section 2 of the ORV Regulation, ORV’s include :

  • Snowmobiles
  • All-terrain vehicles (or “quads”)
  • Off-road motorcycles
  • Side-by-sides (e.g., “argos”, “rhinos” and “razors”)
  • Jeeps, trucks, SUVs and other small on-highway motor vehicles

Registering your ORV with ICBC

Effective Nov. 1, 2015, ORV owners must register vehicles used on Crown land and clearly display their ICBC number plates or stickers. Registration services are provided by ICBC’s Autoplan Brokers for vehicles prescribed under the ORV Act (e.g. snowmobiles, off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and side-by-side ORVs).

ORV Safety & Alerts

New safety requirements under the Off-Road Vehicle Act and its regulations include, 

  • Turning on lights in low-visibility conditions,
  • Wearing an approved safety helmet when using an all terrain vehicle, motorcycle or snowmobile.
  • Wearing seatbelts when using a side-by-side or other on-highway vehicles
  •  Adult supervision of children and ORVs used by children are age appropriate.
  • More details about ORV Safety under the ORV Act.

Spark arrestors under the Wildfire Act:

  • All off-road vehicles are required to have a spark arrestor installed during wildfire conditions. A spark arrestor is a small screen or other device that is installed in an engine exhaust system to stop sparks from exiting the tailpipe.

For information about alerts and closures on Crown land, helpful contacts include:

Where to Ride

ORV enthusiasts are encouraged to check out Recreation Sites and Trails BC to find information about where to ride on Crown land.

No one ever expects to get into trouble in the backcountry. But, a turn in the weather, unexpected injury, equipment failure, vehicle mishap, or nightfall can quickly change any ORV outing on Crown land into a crisis. A trip plan is needed before heading outdoors - check out Adventure Smart for details.

Note: ORV Registration also supports search and rescue efforts in finding lost or injured riders if the abandoned ORV is found first.

Compliance and enforcement

New enforcement tools enable officers to address contraventions more effectively under the ORV Act. These include:

  • The ability to stop, inspect and, where appropriate, seize ORVs
  • Increased fines for violation tickets (e.g., $230 for an unregistered ORV and $368 for careless operation or damage to property)
    • See Schedule 2 of the Violation Ticket and Administration Regulation of the Offence Act
  • ORV riders 12 and older must carry government-issued photo identification to help officers identify riders and establish their age
  • 24-7 access to ORV registration information

Under section 8 of the Wildfire Regulation, a contravention for not having a spark arrestor installed in the engine exhaust system of an ORV could result in a violation ticket fine of $460 or an administrative monetary penalty of up to $10,000. If a wildfire starts, the ORV operator may also receive a court fine up to $1,000,000 and/or up to three years in jail.

Anyone who witnesses a violation of the ORV Act is encouraged to call the Conservation Officer Service and Natural Resource Violations hotline at 1-877-952-7277, or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.

The ORV Framework
snowmobiles are ORVs

A cross-government initiative, the ORV Management Framework consists primarily of the Off-Road Vehicle Act.

But it also includes changes to the Motor Vehicle Act to provide safe, convenient incidental access to highways. This includes free police-issued operation permits (PDF), where applicable.

Expanded Definition

The ORV Act now applies to a wide range of vehicles used for work or leisure on Crown land, including resource roads.

Contact information

If you have questions about the ORV Management Framework, please contact Vera Vukelich, Manager responsible for ORVs.