Regulation Simplified - Canada

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Canada's National Safety Code

Note – Please refer to the proper providence or territory under Quick Links for regulations that may go above and beyond the basic regulations outlined on this page. 

What is the National Safety Code?

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is responsible for developing the National Safety Code (NSC). the NSC is a set of national standards for commercial vehicle operations supported by provincial regulations. The program establishes management and performance requirements and standards for commercial carriers. 

What vehicles are included in the National Safety Code Program?

  • Commercial vehicles licensed with a gross vehicle weight of more than 5,000 kg (10,000 lbs)
  • Vehicles operating under the Passenger Transportation Act.
  • Commercial Vehicles that have a seating capacity of 10 or more passengers plus the driver.
Registering as a Motor Carrier in Canada

How do I register my motor carrier in Canada?

All motor carriers that operate and are home based in the providences or territories in Canada are required to obtain an NSC Certificate Number or equivalent based on providence or territory.  Use the links below under Quick Links to contact the in the appropriate providence or territory. 

Link to National Safety Code Certificate

Does a company located in the United States but takes loads into Canada required an NSC or Equivalent?

No, the United States has a reciprocity agreement with Canada, so your company does not need to have special certification. However, we do have to follow their regulations while operating in Canada, just like Canadian motor carriers must follow the United States regulations when driving in the United States.

Who do the commercial driver and vehicle rules apply to in Canada?

Motor carriers with commercial drivers are part of the National Safety Code Program through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators. The CCMTA defines a commercial motor vehicle as:

  • Vehicles licensed with a gross vehicle weight of more than 5,000 kg (10,000 lbs) (in commercial operations)
  • Vehicles operating under the Passenger Transportation Act.
  • Commercial Vehicles that have a seating capacity of 10 or more passengers plus the driver.

Are the commercial vehicle and driver rules the same for the northern parts of Canada?

No, above the 60th parallel there are some difference in regulations. See the applicable jurisdiction for further information.

Hours of Service

Does Canada require an ELD?

No, Canada is currently preparing an ELD mandate similar to the United States that is expected to be finalized in 2019.  

What are the cycles for Hours of Service in Canada?

Cycle 1 allows drivers to accumulate 70 hours of on-duty time over 7 days. Reset is 36 hours off.

Cycle 2 allows drivers to accumulate 120 hours of on-duty time over 14 days. Rest is 72 hours off.

 If a driver reaches the 70-hour or 120-hour limits, then he/she can reset the cycle by taking 36 hours or 72 hours of off-duty time, respectively.

Drivers may also switch from Cycle 1 to Cycle 2 by taking 36 hours of off-duty time, or switch from Cycle 2 to Cycle 1 by taking 72 hours of off-duty time. All drivers, regardless of cycle, must have taken at least 24 consecutive hours off-duty time in the preceding 14 days.

No motor carrier shall request, require or allow a driver to drive and no driver shall drive unless the driver has taken at least 24 consecutive hours of off-duty time in the preceding 14 days

How long does a driver need to keep his logs with him?

Driver must keep 14 days logs with them.

What are the basic hours of service regulations?

  • A driver must have a minimum of 10 hours off-duty in every day (24-hour period)
  • A driver may not drive more than 13 hours in a day
  • A driver may not drive more than 13 hours in a work shift
  • A driver may not drive after 14 hours on-duty in a day
  • A driver may not drive after 14 hours on-duty in a work shift
  • A driver may not drive after 16 hours have elapsed since the driver started a work shift
  • A driver must follow one of two federal cycle rules (as specified in the regulations)
Vehicle Maintenance

What are the basic vehicle maintenance requirements?

All motor carriers must have a written preventative maintenance plan to maintain their equipment. All maintenance records should include:

  • Make model, year, serial number
  • Lessors name if applicable
  • Date, nature of repair, and maintenance activity
  • Odometer reading at time of every repair or maintenance
  • Description and frequency of regular maintenance and repairs
  • A description of every axle modification that affects gross vehicle or axle weight rating

What are the requirements for DVIR’s in Canada?

Motor carriers are required to obtain daily vehicle inspection reports from their drivers. The following is required:

  •  The vehicle is inspected before it is driven
  • The inspection is conducted with the use of a schedule listing the vehicle components and systems that require inspection
  • An inspection report is completed
  • The inspection and report are valid for 24 hours
  • The driver carries the inspection schedule and report in the vehicle
  • The driver records on the report any defects found while enroute and at the end of the trip or day
  • The driver reports defects to the operator at the time they are discovered – the operator must repair the defect immediately, or before the next dispatch, and keep records of repair
Driver Qualification Files

What is required to be kept in the driver qualification files?

The following should be kept on file by the motor carrier. Age for commercial drivers is 18 except in British Columbia, Newfoundland Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwestern Territories commercial drivers must be 19. 

  • Application for employment including:
    • Driver’s name
    • Date of birth
    • Information verifying accuracy of the application
    • Copy of road test if applicable
    • Copy of current driver’s license
      • Drivers who stay within Canada and do not go into the US will have a V on their license
      • Drivers who cross over to the United States will have a W
    • Annual driver abstracts (MVR)
    • Endorsements and dangerous goods certificate
    • History of traffic offenses that the driver was convicted
    • Reportable accidents involving commercial vehicles in past two year

Does Canada have a required Drug and Alcohol program for motor carriers?

No, companies can choose to have a company drug and alcohol policy. However, if the motor carrier is traveling to the United States their drivers must be part of a drug and alcohol program.