Importing non-regulated vehicles

Some vehicles are defined as non-regulated, which makes them exempt from having to comply with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act when they are manufactured or imported.

Vehicles have non-regulated status based on their:

  • design characteristics
  • circumstances at time of entry into Canada
  • age of the vehicle

How you plan to use a vehicle in Canada does not determine if it will qualify as non-regulated. The original design intent of the manufacturer is considered first (i.e., the class of vehicle at the time of main assembly). The vehicle is then assessed for other factors such as age or special circumstances.

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Examples of non-regulated vehicles

The following are examples of vehicles that are not regulated under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations:

  • vehicles 15 years old or older (except buses) according to their manufacture date
  • buses manufactured before January 1, 1971
  • vehicles brought in temporarily by visitors, foreign students or foreign workers
  • vehicles designed strictly for off-road use such as farm tractors and construction equipment
  • utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) commonly referred to as side-by-side's manufactured prior to Feb. 4th, 2021 (those manufactured on or after that date are now regulated)
  • competition vehicles designed only for closed course competitions, with the necessary labels or paperwork
  • off-road restricted-use vehicles (dirt bikes, ATVs and side-by-sides) of any age unable to exceed a speed of 32 km/h (or 20 mph)
  • conventional pedal bicycles with motor assist (electric or gas) of any age unable to exceed a speed of 32 km/h (or 20 mph)

Importing power assisted bicycles

As of Feb. 4th 2021, the definition of power assisted bicycle formerly located in subsection 2(1) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations is no longer in force, hence it is no longer a benchmark for assessing compliance at manufacturing or importation of e-bicycles.

The new approach towards e-bicycles by Transport Canada is to first assess its on-road versus off-road design characteristics. Any e-bicycle product, regardless of speed limitation, equipped with features that resemble on-road prescribed classes of vehicles such as scooters or motorcycles and motor tricycles will be assessed as such.

E-bicycles with off-road characteristics designed to operate at speeds no greater than 32 km/h (or 20 mph) will be considered non-regulated at importation while those that can operate at speeds greater than 32 km/h (or 20 mph) will be subject to import compliance requirements as restricted-use vehicles. See Off-road vehicles – are they regulated? for more information on restricted-use vehicles

Products equipped with speed limiters are assessed by first taking into consideration the untethered speed capacity of the vehicle. In cases where the vehicle's design makes it highly impractical to remove a speed governing mechanism, Transport Canada may, on a case specific evaluation, consider the speed limitation as valid.

E-bike usage may be controlled in certain areas of Canada. Please check with your local government.

Importing utility-terrain vehicles (UTVs)

Utility-terrain vehicles (UTVs) designed for off-road use manufactured prior to Feb. 4th, 2021 are not required to comply any Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). Their importation is therefore processed as a non-regulated vehicle.

For off-road UTVs manufactured on Feb. 4th or after, their importation is now subject to CMVSS compliance associated to restricted-use vehicle classification of Schedule III of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, unless they are designed by the manufacturer as being unable to exceed a speed of 32 km/h (or 20 mph). 

Note: Regardless of age, UTVs with on-road features or design characteristics are not considered off-road and their importation is assessed on an individual basis.

Read more about Off-road vehicles – are they regulated?

Importing older vehicles

Vehicles manufactured more than 15 years ago, and buses manufactured before January 1, 1971, are not regulated for importation by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. They are considered age-exempt. You may import these vehicles but this is not a guarantee that they can be licensed for driving.

Find out more about importing an older vehicle by reading:

Import procedures for non-regulated vehicles

You may import non-regulated vehicles exempt from Transport Canada requirements if they meet Canada Border Services Agency entry requirements. At the border, officers will:

  • verify the vehicle's non-regulated status
  • examine the ownership documents
  • inspect for possible soil contaminants
  • collect taxes and/or duties if applicable
  • decide admissibility according to other Canadian customs regulations that may apply
  • release the vehicle by manually validating the Vehicle Import Form-1, e-Form 1, or electronically via a Single Window Initiative (SWI) Integrated Import Declaration (IID)

Find out more about importing a non-regulated vehicle by reading:

Contact us for more information on importing vehicles

Transport Canada 
Motor Vehicle Safety

Telephone: 1-800-333-0371 (toll-free), 1-613-998-8616 (Ottawa region) 

Related links

This web site is meant as a helpful reference. It has no legal force or effect. To fully understand the law, consult the Motor Vehicle Safety Act S.C. 1993, c.16 and the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.