Have you registered your ORV?

You’ll want to do it soon because registration of off-road vehicles in B.C. becomes mandatory on June 1, 2015

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A man on a green ATV.

ATV/BC is hoping that the new regulations will help curb vehicle theft and promote safe and responsible use of the backcountry. — Kirsten Armleder photo

Editor's Note: Since this story was published, there have been updates to the Off-Road Vehicle Act. For the most recent information, see the press release, ORV Registration is Mandatory in B.C. on November 1, 2015.

It has been almost a year since the B.C. Government officially passed Bill 13, better known as the Off-Road Vehicle Act—the law requiring that all ORVs operating on Crown land be registered. For now, the registration is voluntary, but it will become mandatory on June 1. And according to Sharon Dean, the communications manager for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, law officers will be enforcing it. The penalty for not having valid registration has not yet been determined, but it should be sorted out by June 1.

What does this mean for ORV owners? Well, for snowmobilers, it’s not entirely new. Registration of snowmobiles has been in effect since the 1970s. It is the system of recording the registrations that has changed. With ICBC’s new province-wide database, law officials will now be able to use their computers to pull up information on a vehicle instead of relying solely on records stored in a filing cabinet. Modernizing the system should help them identify and track down stolen vehicles better—and the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation is confident this will be the case.

How it affects everyone else

ATV, UTV and dirt bike riders are the newcomers to B.C.’s registration system. Until June 1, B.C. will have remained one of the last provinces in Canada that does not require these kind of vehicles to be registered.

So what does it cost? The combined number plate and licence fee is a one-time fee of $48. It will not need to be renewed each year and the plate will stay with the owners if they choose to sell their vehicles.

The registration can be obtained from any ICBC insurance broker. At the time of registration, the owners should also determine how they plan to use their vehicles. A minimum of $200,000 liability insurance is required to operate an ORV on Forest Service Roads.

In the case of using an ORV to cross a highway, the owner will need to purchase an annual vehicle licence and basic insurance coverage from ICBC. According to ICBC, ORV highway use is limited to incidental travel directly across the highway.

What about the taxes?

Just like any other motor vehicle being registered in B.C., ORVs are taxable, and owners will be required to pay the taxes on their vehicles—if they have not already—when they register them with ICBC. Taxes apply to all ORVs purchased on or after July 1, 2010.

If there are unpaid taxes owing, the owner must provide the ORV purchase price to ICBC. This means that if you bought a vehicle in 2011 from a private sale, you will be required to pay taxes on the value of what it was worth at the time of purchase. In the case of ORVs brought into B.C., the taxes will be applied to the depreciated purchase price of the vehicle at the time of its entry into B.C.

It’s a bit of a process so that’s why it’s important to have all your documents in hand when you first walk into the insurance office. Proof of ownership, such as a Certificate of Origin, a Bill of Sale or a Transfer Tax Form, are required in order to register.

This is only the beginning. More regulations are set to come into effect June 1. The mandatory use of helmets while riding on Crown land may be one of them.

“We are hoping this provision is ready for June 1,” said Dean.

Cracking down on irresponsible riders

The Quad Riders Association of BC (ATV/BC) is in full support of the new Off-Road Vehicle Act.

“It does several different things,” said Jeff Mohr, president of ATV/BC. “It helps us put some things into place where we can hopefully identify some of the bad actors out there, people that are out there ripping and tearing and causing government and everybody to look at motorized sports in a bad way. So we want to capture those five per cent or less, if we can. The other side of it is the regulations that are coming in, which will include helmets and some of the other things that needed to be done, so we are very much in favour of that. It will also have an impact on the ability for people to sell stolen machines, so hopefully we’ll see a reduction in the amount of theft.” 

Editor's note: Since this article was published, the date for mandatory registration of off-road vehicles has been deferred from June 1 to November 1, 2015. The B.C. Government is also making a sticker avaiable in lieu of the metal licence plate. For more information, see the news release

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