November 6

Out of Province Vehicle Inspections

Auto Repair


Provincial vehicle inspections in BC are required in a few circumstances: for commercial vehicles over 8200 kg GVW and passenger carrying vehicles like taxis they are mandatory every 6 months to 1 year.

For cars and light trucks the only time you are required to perform an inspection is if the vehicle is brought in from out of province or you receive a notice from a police officer to have an inspection.

While all the light duty inspections are the same the most common cause for this service is for out of province vehicles being registered in BC.

What do we look at during the inspection? There are strict guidelines and criteria to be following during an inspection but the focus of the inspection is entirely on safety and compliance with the BC motor vehicle act.

The safety inspection is essentially a snap shot of the vehicle’s current condition. It is not a preventative maintenance inspection.

Brake pads for example will pass the provincial inspection with 3mm remaining because the minimum spec is 2mm. 3mm for all intents and purposes is nearly worn out but it still passes though we would certainly recommend service soon.

One area of the inspection manual features a very large and complete chapter and that is the section about lighting. Any vehicle brought into BC that was originally sold in Canada should have no issues. Ditto for US vehicles except that they generally don’t come with daytime running lights. The large lighting section is targeted primarily to vehicles sold outside of the North America market. Cars from elsewhere in the world have different lighting standards and must be modified to Canadian specs. The headlamps on a right hand drive vehicle point in slightly different directions but are enough to illuminate the wrong area of the road.

For many older vehicles brought in from out of province this inspection can be a life-altering moment for this car or truck. If maintenance and repairs have been badly neglected in the past, the cost of compliance may be too high. For a vehicle with excessive rust or structural damage the inspection is probably a blessing in disguise to get the vehicle off the road; unless of course it is a valuable and rare vintage car.

If your vehicle does not pass the inspection you are free to perform the repairs at a shop of your choice or even do it yourself. The vehicle must be reinspected to be certain that repairs were done to standards.

There is a fee for the inspection and the decal. Depending on what failed and how or who repaired it there may be a reinspection fee.

For the technician doing the inspection there is a lot at stake: It must be honest and truthful, and to the book. If something should happen to the vehicle such as severe crash caused by a mechanical defect and the inspector said it was safe he or she could be found liable.

As for inspection facilities they are not all created equally. In the past there have been media sting operations looking at facilities that barely inspected a vehicle but grant a pass: this done on a car or truck with an obvious safety defect. Also some facilities may be over zealous in their recommended repairs. If you feel like your inspection was unfair you can contact the CVSE and they will have one of their officers follow up.

If you are needing a vehicle inspection for an out of province vehicle or for any other reason please contact us to set an appointment. Should repairs be required we can generally do anything that you need to bring it to compliance.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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