Where and When Are Winter Tires Mandatory in Canada?

Canadian drivers know the value of winter tires, even those who are not legally required to put them on their vehicle during the cold season. A 2020 survey commissioned by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada revealed that 72 percent of vehicle owners across the country now opt for winter tires. 

Still, what does the law say? Right now, Quebec and British Columbia are the only Canadian provinces where winter tires are mandatory. Other provinces and territories don’t make it an obligation, though winter tires are highly recommended since they prove more flexible below 7°C and thus offer better grip.

To be clear, only tires with the Alpine Symbol (three-peak mountain and snowflake) and studded tires are considered winter tires under the Highway Safety Code.

Photo: Jean-François Guay


In La Belle Province, winter tires are mandatory from December 1 to March 15 inclusively. This applies to all light-duty passenger vehicles including taxis, rental vehicles, as well as mopeds, motorized scooters and motorcycles.

Studs and chains are authorized between October 15 and May 1 inclusively.

British Columbia

Out west, winter tires are mandatory on some highways in British Columbia from October 1 to April 30.

Studded tires can be used only between October 1 and April 30.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Milan

How to Choose the Best Winter Tires

If you need to change winter tires soon, you’ll find a seemingly endless selection of models—not all of them being created equal, of course. Remember that the price is only one factor to consider. Grip, ride quality, noise and durability also must be part of your decision. It often pays off to spend more money on higher-quality winter tires and take good care of them than buying cheap tires from lesser brands and replacing them after a short time. Not to mention you’ll be driving a safer vehicle, too.

Your wheel size, the type of roads you take, the winter conditions you face and your personal driving style are additional factors to help you make the best decision. Need any suggestions? Don’t miss our list of the best 2023-2024 winter tires for cars and small-to-midsize SUVs.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

TiresBest Winter Tires for 2023-2024: Top Picks and Recommendations
Depending on where you live in Canada, winter tires may or may not be mandatory for a certain part of the year. Regardless, they have proven to outperform all-season and all-weather tires when temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celsius. And if you need a new set, it’s best to shop …
RecallsThousands of Michelin Tires Recalled for Lack of Winter Readiness
Forgive us for talking about winter tires when spring is in full swing, but a new recall by Michelin leaves us no choice. As you know, all tires marked with a three-peak mountain snowflake symbol (3PMS) must meet safety and winter traction requirements as established by Transport Canada. Ironically, these …
Features and TipsWinter Tire Exemption: Where and How?
If you still haven't purchased your winter tires, you really should hurry, because the deadline is approaching fast. Just in case you forgot, winter tires are mandatory on all road motor vehicles registered in Quebec, including rentals, from December 1st to March 15th inclusively. Motorists who don’t comply with the …
TiresIs Climate Change Making Winter Tires More Vital? Survey Says Yes
Extreme winter weather events related to climate change have made winter tires more important than ever according to 76 percent of Canadian motorists polled by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC). “It seems Canadian drivers are recognizing the changing weather patterns brought about by climate change,” says TRAC …
NewsHyundai’s Breakthrough Could Revolutionize Winter Tires
Hyundai may just have found the next great thing in winter tire technology. Together with sister company Kia , it has developed tire-integrated “snow chains” that provide extra grip and promise to make winter driving safer. Essentially, shape memory alloy modules are located inside the wheel and tire. When the …