When riding a snowmobile, wearing a helmet is mandatory at all times, as is the registration of your snowmobile. You also need a valid driver’s licence to ride your snowmobile on or across a public roadway, a trail covered by the Act respecting off-highway vehicles or any other area of use that is not covered by the Highway Safety Code.
You must be at least 16 years old to drive a snowmobile
Snowmobilers who are 16 or 17 must hold a training certificate. The Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec has mandated the ConduiPro network of driving schools (website in French only) to provide this training and issue the certificate.
Snowmobilers who are 16 or 17 and who live in another Canadian province or in another country must hold a snowmobile operator’s certificate issued by their home jurisdiction.
If you must operate an offroad vehicle on a public road, trail, or any other area of use that is not covered by the Highway Safety Code, you must hold a valid driver’s licence or probationary licence of any class, or hold a valid learner’s licence and abide by its conditions.
Driving on Public Roads
Driving on public roads is prohibited, other than in the few exceptional cases provided for by law. You may cross a public road or drive on it only if a road sign allows you to do so.
You must register your snowmobile, even if you only use it on designated trails. The licence plate must be affixed to the snowmobile.
Just because your vehicle is registered doesn’t mean you are covered in the event of an accident
If you have an accident that doesn’t involve an automobile (if you run into a tree, for example), you are not covered by the SAAQ for your injuries. The fact that you paid the registration fees for your off-road vehicle doesn’t change that fact. However, if you have an accident involving an automobile or any other vehicle operating on a public roadway, you may receive compensation for your injuries.
Civil Liability Insurance is Mandatory
You must hold private civil liability insurance for at least $1,000,000 to ensure compensation for any bodily injury or property damage caused by your vehicle. Proof of insurance may be requested by a police officer, trail patrol officer or provincial officer. You must always have your proof of insurance with you; otherwise, you face a fine.
A valid trail permit is required if you wish to drive your snowmobile on trails maintained by off-road vehicle clubs.
Trail permits are sold online by the clubs through the FCMQ website.
Offences committed under the Highway safety code or the Act respecting off-highway vehicles
Offenders face fines and demerit points
Driving a snowmobile while impaired by alcohol, drugs or medication is prohibited. The Criminal Code also applies to driving off-road vehicles. If you commit an offence under the Highway Safety Code on a public road, trail or any other area that is not covered by this Code, the same penalties apply as for a driving offence while at the wheel of any other type of motorized vehicle.
Documents to have with you always
When operating an off-road vehicle, you must always have the following with you:
- proof of civil liability insurance
- the vehicle's registration certificate
- a document that can attest to your age
- a valid driver’s licence
- your training certificate, if applicable
For you and any passengers
Anyone operating or being pulled behind a snowmobile (such as on a sled, for example) must wear a protective helmet that complies with at least one of the following manufacturing standards:
- DOT FMVSS 218 (United States Department of Transportation)
- Snell Memorial Foundation
- ECE Regulation 22 (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe)
- CAN-3-D230 (Canadian Standards Association)
- Specifications for Protective Headgear for Vehicular User Z90.1 (American National Standards Institute)
- British Standards Institute
If the helmet doesn’t have a visor, you must wear protective goggles.
For your vehicle
In addition to the mandatory basic equipment provided by the manufacturer, all snowmobiles built after January 1, 1998 must be equipped with a red rear brake light, a rear-view mirror firmly attached to the left side of the vehicle and a speedometer. Modifying any part of a snowmobile’s muffler is strictly prohibited.
Snowmobile Speed Limits
The speed limit is 70 km/h, unless otherwise indicated. Within 30 metres of a residence, however, the speed limit is 30 km/h, even if no sign is posted.