Piles of winter tires in snow and map of Canada

Your Guide to Winter Tire Laws Canada

Welcome, fellow Canadian drivers! As we all know, navigating the roads during our frosty winters can be a daunting experience.

With snow, ice, and slush creating slippery conditions, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and ensure equipping vehicles well. This is to handle the elements and offers a higher level of snow traction suitable for winter driving.

One crucial aspect of winter driving safety is ensuring that your vehicle has appropriate tires for the conditions. Many countries and regions have laws mandating the use of winter tires during the colder months to improve road safety and prevent accidents.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at winter tire laws and regulations across Canada, helping you stay informed and prepared for the colder months ahead.

The Benefits of Winter Tires

When it comes to winter driving, it can make all the difference if you prepare and equip your vehicle with the right tires. Winter tires offer significant advantages over all-season or summer tires, especially when temperatures drop. But then, road conditions become treacherous, and your summer tires are useless.

Enhanced Traction and Control

One of the primary benefits, when you purchase qualifying winter tires is their ability to provide superior traction on snowy and icy surfaces.

Improved Braking Distance

In addition to better traction, winter tires offer improved braking performance in winter months. The specialized rubber compounds and tread designs work together to provide a more effective grip on slippery surfaces, allowing normal or commercial vehicles to stop quickly and safely.

Reduced Risk of Accidents

Ultimately, the improved traction, tread depth, control, and braking performance provided by a winter tire reduce the risk of accidents during the winter months.

Car winter tires in snow

Canadian Winter Tire Laws by Province/Territory

The laws and regulations vary across Canada, with each province and territory setting specific rules and requirements. Understanding these laws will help you ensure you comply and prepare for safe winter driving, no matter where your travels take you.

British Columbia

In British Columbia, winter tire chains studded tires may only be used on BC highways from October 1 to April 30, and the studs should not protrude more than 2 mm from the tread or traction surface.

Vehicles must be equipped with either tires marked with the mountain/snowflake symbol or mud and snow (M+S) tires.

Studded tires may be used on certain mountainous highways or in severe weather conditions. Still, drivers should be aware of possible restrictions on studded tires in other provinces and adjust their driving to weather and road conditions. If you are using studded tires, you should have them on all four wheels for even traction.


Alberta does not have a province-wide winter tire law. However, it is strongly recommended that drivers use winter tires to ensure safe driving in winter conditions. In addition, some mountain parks and private roads may require these tires, so always check local regulations before traveling.


There are no mandatory winter tire laws in Saskatchewan, but vehicle owners should use winter tires for safe driving during the winter months. Saskatchewan does permit the use of studded tires, but only from October 1 to April 30. Saskatchewan also has a mandated minimum tread depth of 1.6mm for all Winter Tires


Manitoba has no province-wide winter tire law, but snow tires are highly recommended for safe driving during the colder months. Studded tires are allowed from October 1 to April 30.


Ontario does not have a permanent law to install winter tires, but drivers will find it safer to use winter tires during the winter season. When it comes to motor vehicles, whether it is a passenger vehicle, emergency vehicle, or your regular car, Insurance companies consider winter tires as one of the factors to cut down on insurance premiums.

Studded tires are permitted only in Northern Ontario for vehicles with a valid permit. Their use is allowed from September 1 to May 31.


Quebec has a province-wide winter tires law requiring all passenger vehicles, taxis, and rental cars to be equipped with tires marked with the mountain/snowflake symbol from December 1 to March 15. Drivers can use studded tires from October 15 to May 1.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador do not have mandatory winter tire laws, but using winter tires is always a better option. Vehicle owners can use studded tires from November 1 to April 30. The law allows the use of studded tires from November 1 to April 30. The studs must not exceed 3.2mm beyond the tire’s tread surface.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick does not have a province-wide winter tire law, but using winter tires is highly encouraged for safe driving during the winter months. Studded ones are permitted from October 15 to April 30.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia does not have a mandatory winter tire law. But for safe driving, it is a good idea for drivers to use winter or snow tires to ensure safe driving in winter conditions. Studded ones are allowed from October 15 to April 30.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island highly recommends winter tires for safe winter driving. However, they do not have any province-wide winter tire law. Therefore, drivers can use studded ones from October 1 to May 31.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories strongly encouraged using winter tires during the winter months but have not made it mandatory by law. Drivers can use studded tires without any specific date restrictions.


The Yukon does not have a province-wide mandatory winter tires law, but drivers should use winter tires for safe driving in the winter driving season. Drivers can use studded tires from October 1 to April 30.


Nunavut does not have a mandatory winter tire law, but given the extreme winter conditions and snow and ice, using winter tires offers you a safe driving experience. In addition, drivers can use studded tires without any specific date restrictions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Winter Tire Laws

Winter tire on the road covered with snow

Are Winter Tires Mandatory Across Canada?

The laws vary by province and territory in Canada. For example, Quebec is the only province with a mandatory winter tire law for all passenger vehicles, taxis, and rental cars. In British Columbia, the law requires winter tires on designated highways. In other provinces, like Southern Ontario, winter tires are not mandatory.

Can I Use All Season Tires Instead of Winter Tires?

While manufacturers design all-season tires to provide adequate performance in various conditions, they do not specifically tailor them for cold weather and icy, snowy conditions.

Some provinces, like Quebec, require drivers to equip their vehicles with winter tires marked with the mountain/snowflake symbol during specific months, and all-season tires would not meet this requirement.

What Are the Penalties for Not Using Winter Tires When Required?

Penalties for not using winter tires when required vary depending on the province. For example, in Quebec, where winter tires are mandatory, drivers can face fines ranging from $200 to $300 if caught without proper winter tires during the regulated period.

In British Columbia, drivers can be fined $121 for not having winter tires on designated highways during the required months.

Are Studded Tires Allowed in All Provinces/Territories?

Studded tire regulations differ across provinces and territories. However, most provinces permit using studded tires during specific months, usually from October or November until April or May.

However, some restrictions apply, such as in Ontario, only vehicles with valid permits in Northern Ontario can drive with studded ones.

Can I Use Winter Tires All Year Round?

While it is technically possible to use winter tires all year round, experts do not recommend doing so. Instead, manufacturers design winter tires with specific rubber compounds and tread patterns. As a result, they perform optimally in cold temperatures and on icy, snowy surfaces.

The softer rubber compounds wear down more quickly in warmer weather, decreasing tire life and reducing performance.


As we’ve explored throughout this guide, winter tire laws and recommendations vary across Canada’s provinces.

However, regardless of the legal requirements in your area, purchasing the best winter tires can significantly enhance your safety and overall driving experience during the winter months.

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