When Is a Yellow Sticker Required for Motor Vehicles/Trailers in Ontario?

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) requires periodic safety inspections under the Highway Traffic Act. Typically done at an MTO authorized Motor Vehicle Inspection Station, you will be issued a Yellow Safety Inspection Sticker when your vehicle/trailer passes the safety inspection, and this yellow sticker must be affixed to your vehicle/trailer.

One area of confusion is that many people think that the “Yellow Annual Safety Inspection Sticker” is only required for commercial vehicles. However, it should be noted that even if they don’t drive a vehicle/trailer for commercial purposes, the “commercial vehicle safety requirements” may apply under certain conditions.

Let’s begin by defining what the term ‘vehicle’ includes when pertaining to this safety inspection.  It includes, but not limited to, pickup trucks, truck tractors, trade vans, mini van or a two- and four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles (SUV) being used to transport cargo with the vehicle’s seats removed. The ‘trailer’ being towed can be, and not limited to, general purpose utility trailers, a boat, snowmobile, livestock or cargo trailers.

Now that we are clear on the terms ‘vehicle’ and ‘trailer’, there are three different weights that you need to understand and know how it is determined.

  • Total Gross Weight is determined by adding the weight of the driver, passenger, fuel, equipment, tools, cargo, etc. carried by the vehicle and/or trailer.
  • Registered Gross Weight (RGW) is the maximum weight used to determine the fee paid for the motor vehicle’s licence plates which can be found on the right (plate) portion of a vehicle’s ownership next to “REG. CROSS WT.” This weight is based on, and must be at least equal to, the actual weight of the vehicle and its heaviest load.
  • Manufacturer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (MGVWR) is established by the manufacturer and is the maximum weight the vehicle can be safely loaded. This can be found on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate, on the driver’s door or door post on a vehicle or in the glove compartment.

So, who needs this yellow sticker which is granted upon passing the Annual Inspection and Safety Certificate (SSC)?  According to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), a SSC is required if:

  1. the total gross weight, registered gross weight (RGW) or manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (MGVWR) of the vehicle exceeds 4,500 kg or 9,920 lbs.


  1. the combined weight of the vehicle and towed trailer or converter dolly exceeds 4,500 kg or 9,920 lbs.

An annual inspection is valid for 12 months and must be renewed prior to expiring to avoid hefty fines. The inspection is put in place to make sure each vehicle is in safe condition to be operated which help reduce collisions caused by mechanical defects. The following components are thoroughly inspected to check that they comply with the National Safety Standard and applicable legislation:

  • power train
  • suspension hydraulic brake system
  • brakes
  • steering
  • instruments and auxiliary equipment
  • lamps
  • electrical system
  • body
  • tires and wheels
  • couplers and hitches

If you own a vehicle and/or trailer in Ontario which fit the descriptions above and don’t have the Yellow Annual Safety Inspection Sticker, immediately have your vehicle/trailer inspected by an authorized “Motor Vehicle Inspection Station” like First PlaceTrailer to avoid potential fines. Fix and repair any items that do not comply to current safety standards.  Once your vehicle/trailer has passed the inspection, affix the Yellow Annual Safety Inspection Sticker to the vehicle/trailer and have a copy of the certificate of inspection with you.

Summary: So which vehicles require a yellow sticker?
Any commercial AND non-commercial vehicles that are being used to transport cargo or has a trailer in tow with the total gross weight, RGW, MGVWR OR the combined weight of the vehicle and towed trailer/converter dolly exceeding 4,500 kg or 9,920 lbs will require a yellow sticker. In some cases, both the vehicle and towed trailer/converter may require individual yellow stickers.