What You Need to Know About Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspections

CVSE road check

We sometimes get the question: what kinds of inspections do commercial vehicles have to go through to ensure they are operating safely?

It’s a great question, especially since the way CVSE (Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement) carries out inspections has evolved over the years.

The most notable change is increasing mobile inspections and using technology to help focus inspections on commercial vehicles that need them. So, how does this play out?


Well, looking back 15 years, all commercial vehicles (by definition: any vehicle designed to carry a load with a licenced GVW of more than 5,500 kg) were required to stop at fixed scales (AKA inspections stations). Think of it as a dragnet approach, where all vehicles – good and not-so-good – were required to spend time being inspected at fixed locations.

There are a couple problems with this kind of dragnet approach:

  1. Inspections were predictable
  2. Inspectors were dedicating a lot of time to vehicles that were in good, safe working order

CVSE inspector conducts road side inspection

While commercial vehicles are still required to report to inspection stations, we have moved toward a more targeted and mobile approach to enforcement – in conjunction with stationary weigh scales – which allows CVSE officers to concentrate on vehicles more likely to fail an inspection. It frees up CVSE’s resources, allowing them to spend more time on those vehicles needing to be looked at.

“It’s all designed for efficiency,” says CVSE Deputy Director Perry Dennis. “It’s designed to catch those that are trying to evade the process, and let the good ones go by.”

So, how do officers separate the good from the bad? Technology plays a big role.

Based on National Safety Code standards, data is collected to determine a carrier’s rating, taking into account history such as violation tickets, out-of-service records, and at-fault crashes. Inspectors are highly trained in spotting defects on commercial vehicles; so, the carrier’s rating, combined with what the officers see on the road, allow them to separate the good from the not-so-good (or unknown).

Technology is boosting efficiency at stationary inspection stations, too. Weigh2GoBC technology allows commercial carriers to bypass Weigh2GoBC inspection stations. A vehicle with a registered transponder communicates with a weigh-in-motion equipped station upon approach, and the vehicle is identified and checked for height, weight and safety credentials while travelling at highway speed. By reducing the number of vehicles that must report to inspection stations, inspectors have time to identify and focus on higher-risk carriers.

CVSE Inspection Station

CVSE also participates in road check events on the international and provincial levels. The annual CVSA International Roadcheck takes place across North America over a 72-hour period, with enforcement agencies randomly stopping commercial vehicles at various locations across their jurisdictions. Now, it’s important to note that, although the road check is meant to be random, officers also stop trucks that show evidence of an infraction.

Wait, there’s more…

Commercial vehicle safety doesn’t end there. Carriers must have internal maintenance and safety programs in place for their vehicles and drivers, which includes monitoring their drivers’ records. They must also ensure every vehicle is inspected at a government licenced facility twice a year as part of the Vehicle Inspections and Standards program.

Did you know CVSE officers are also trained to inspect commercial vehicles that are carrying dangerous goods? The Transport of Dangerous Good (TDG) program promotes safety in BC in combination with the federal TDG program.

So let’s review…

Every year, a commercial vehicle operates with the following safe guards in place:

  • Internal maintenance and safety programs
  • Bi-annual inspections at a government licenced facility
  • Stationary inspections at weigh scales
  • Targeted mobile inspections
  • CVSE International Roadcheck

CVSE not only has a duty to enforce, but also educate. Providing guidance to commercial truck drivers during each interaction is a big part of what officers do. In fact, a stop doesn’t always mean a ticket – it can be a warning and opportunity to inform. Drivers often come into the inspection stations to ask officers questions, too. And we’re really glad they do.

In the end, commercial vehicle safety requires government and industry to work together. Maintaining solid relationships and open lines of communication with commercial drivers, BC Trucking Association, and other provincial associations is vital to maintaining a safe transportation network for goods, services, and travellers.

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Page 1 of 56 comments on “What You Need to Know About Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspections”

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  1. I am an owner/operator of a small hauling business in Alberta, I generally only operate in Alberta however have 1 job that may requires me to go into BC to drop off a small piece of equipment. My licensed GVW is 25,000lbs, what all do I need to be legal for this particular job? Do I need a Safety Fitness Certificate? Permits? Thank you in advance.

  2. Iam retired from over 25 years of service, heavy duty master certification, with many more certs, welding, pneumatics, etc. while at a major west Cleveland suburb I witnessed and tried to prevent a verity of safety related repairs being done improperly, and by non capable employees. I was treated as a childish tattletale then forced to leave. Plz contact me to prevent a accident or even fatal!

    • Hello, there.

      Thanks for connecting with us here. Could you give us some more specifics on the area that this occurred? Was this in the Cleveland neighborhood of North Vancouver?

  3. I have regular 1 ton pick up, GVWR set at 10500kg because I sometimes tow an equipment trailer with a skidsteer. it is not used for work (payed work). so because I HAVE to have my GVWR to cover both truck and trailer it automatically puts me in a commercial class. now I have to do inspections ect? also what happens when I’m out towing my small rv with my family? I still have to stop at scales? do I have to keep a log book? or pre-trip book? this seems a little bit over kill just so I can tow my skidsteer to get serviced or help out a friend once in awhile. thanks for any advice or tips

    • Hello, Tom – thanks for contacting us here. If your vehicle requires an NSC safety certificate in order to be insured by ICBC, some of those requirements will likely apply to you. Since there are a number of weight thresholds involved in the items you’ve asked about, we suggest you contact our NSC program office at 250-952-0576, or via NSC@gov.bc.ca to discuss how your vehicle is being used. That will also make a difference to what requirements apply.

    • Hello, Paul.

      Could you clarify what inspection you are referencing? Department of Transportation (DOT) is the American Transportation Department. If you are asking about the annual CVSA International Roadcheck, the check for 2023 was conducted in May and we don’t have any info on the plans for 2024.

      Thanks for connecting with us.

  4. currently a school bus operator for sd23 ,can you confirm that all commercial vehicles will be on some kind of electronic log book system in B.C, including school buses and when??

  5. I have a question..is Chetwynd,BC mountain time or Pacific time..because I transport some ppl from Edmonton,Ab to a camp south of Chetwynd and in my E-log app called motive driver that the time doesn’t automatically switch 1 hour back and it does switch back on my Android phone..is that E-log App suppose to automatically do that or not?

    • Hi James, thanks for reaching out to us here. As has always been the case with paper daily logs, your record of duty status should reflect the local time at your home terminal rather than whatever time zone you are currently in. This means an ELD should not update the time zone as your phone would.

  6. Where can I get an inspection done on my dump trailer around Victoria?
    I’m not able to insure it until I get it inspected so I’m planning on getting it towed

    • Hi Josh – thanks for reaching out to us here. We encourage you to do an online search for designated commercial vehicle inspection facilities in the Victoria area.

    • Hi Sukh,

      When in doubt – best to have them check it out. Commercial vehicles are required for regular inspections regardless, but any modifications which occur between those regular inspections should also be reviewed and approved by a red seal mechanic.

  7. Regarding the statement above, (at ‘https://www.tranbc.ca/2018/07/24/what-you-need-to-know-about-commercial-vehicle-safety-inspections/#comment-750722), that”officers also stop trucks that show evidence of an infraction”, kindly disclose a list of all of the provinces Truck Scale Web-Cams so that I can audit the success of your enforcement visually, en mass.

  8. Kindly advise what “inoperative” means with respect to


    “Section6 – Lamps
    1. Required Lamps
    a) operation of all required lamps (Applies to Truck, Trailer, and Bus )
    25% or more of LEDs of any one lamp assembly are inoperative”

  9. Hello dear.I am from Edmonton Alberta.And I bought commercial 53ft trailer from Team action Kamploos with invalide CVI. I get plate for it from Alberta registration and now I want take my trailer to my home terminal to get safty paper works.So can I get temporary pass or How can I move this trailer.

    • Hi there – thanks for your comment. We shared your question with our staff in the CVSE and they let us know that you will need a temporary operating permit to travel through BC without a valid CVIP. And you will need another one for Alberta probably, but that’s something AB VIP can help you with. CVSE staff encourage you to reach out to ICBC with your situation first. Hope this is helpful. Safe travels.

    • Hello Chris – thanks for your question. Commercial vehicle inspections are performed annually or semi-annually depending on vehicle usage. Check the details on your insurance or reach out to the Passenger Transportation Branch to confirm.

      Passenger Transportation Branch Office:

      604 527-2198
      604 527-2205

      200-1500 Woolridge Street Coquitlam, BC V3K 0B8


  10. At what weight does a farm plated pickup need to display nsc and give numbers?

    Is it the same as a cometcial vehicle at 5000kg or the same as when it would need an inspection at 17000kg.

    I never see farm plated trucks with nsc# even when towing heavy

    • Good morning Kris – thanks for your question. We asked our folks in the CVSE and they let us know that you will need to get a Temporary Operating Permit (TOP) from your Autoplan agent. You will need to let them know it is for the required vehicle inspection and that the vehicle already has insurance coverage. Hope that this helps!

  11. When does a vehicle need yearly / 6 month inspections on it, is there a certain GVW you hit and this comes into effect.. 5500KG?

    I know under that you don’t need to scale but over 5000KG you still need to display a GVW and NSC number on your truck. Just not sure if you also need yearly inspections between 5000KG and 5500KG.

    Thank you.

    • Hi there Byron. Thanks for your question. We have sent it to our staff for their input and will get back to you here as soon as we have the information for you.

    • Hi Byron,

      Our apologies for the delay in getting this response back to you. Here’s what we heard: It does not matter if the vehicle is classified as commercial or private on the registration paperwork, the gross vehicle weights are what differentiate when a vehicle needs to be inspected.

      Vehicle Inspection Guide

      Depending on the type and size of commercial vehicle, CVIP inspection may be required semi-annually or annually, as shown in the following chart:

      Commercial Passenger Vehicles
      Vehicles licensed under the Passenger Transportation Act – Semi-annual
      Buses -Semi-annual
      Buses licensed and insured as farm vehicles – Annual

      Commercial Trucks
      Trucks and Truck Tractors from 8,201 kg LGVW to 17,300 kg LGVW except logging trucks – Annual
      Trucks and Truck Tractors 17,301 kg LGVW and over – Semi-annual
      Logging trucks 8,201kg LGVW and over except farm vehicles – Semi-annual
      X-plated industrial machines of 17,301 kg LGVW and over, with these body styles: compressor, derrick, pumper, conveyor, drill rig, crane, seismograph, drill – Annual
      Trucks and Truck Tractors operating under quarterly permits – Annual or semi-annual depending on type and LGVW of vehicle
      Emergency vehicles 8,201 kg LGVW and over – Annual
      Farm vehicles 17,301 kg LGVW and over – Annual
      Driving school vehicles – Annual

      Commercial Trailers
      Dump Trailer – a dump box designed to disgorge its load out of the top, bottom, front, side or back from the axles it rides on or by being moved to another piece of equipment (i.e. Transfer Trailer) – Semi-annual
      Logging Trailer – any trailer capable of hauling logs that is attached to a vehicle registered as a logging truck or a trailer designed or modified to transport logs (i.e. Flat Deck Trailer with stakes) – Semi-annual
      Other than log or dump – Annual
      Floater plates – Annual or semi-annual depending on type

      Hope that this info is helpful!

  12. On 256st maple ridge lots of trucks with brake parts falling off on the road ,
    They need to set up here!!! And one truck lost a steel bridge when turning onto 128 st!,
    And a dump truck lost the pup !!!

    • Hi Lee – thanks for your question. The CVSE is our Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement – the good folks responsible for making sure all things related to commercial safety are taken care of on BC highways. Here’s a link to more information: http://www.cvse.ca

      Why your car has a sticker on it – we can’t say. Perhaps an employee put it there proudly?

  13. It seems the majority of time that i drive by the scales at vanderhoof or Prince George they are closed and i very seldom see a truck pulled over anywhere on the highway,and i drive a lot.

    • Hi Ian – thanks for letting us know your concern. Some weigh scales have random hours which are supplemented by mobile enforcement. Here is a list of our CVSE inspection stations, their hours and contact information. If you would like to confirm hours of a particular station, or speak further with someone directly about a concern you might have, we encourage you to contact the station directly. http://www.cvse.ca/inspection_stations.htm

      Also, if you have a general concern about commercial vehicle safety enforcement, you can call our 24 hour hotline: 1-888-775-8785

      Hope that this helps!

  14. I have to agree cvse is a joke. They are just a bunch of revenue collectors. If you were about safety you wouldn’t ticket every chance you get. I avoid the scales like the plague. You know the record of a driver, so when you inspect him/her you know if they are a chronic offender. The poor guy just trying to make a living and makes a mistake once or twice a year doesn’t need to be ticketed for every little thing. And you wonder why your hated so much!

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      CVSE takes a best practices approach to compliance and tickets are only one tool in the belt – officers are trained to use all data at their disposal in making informed decisions with regard to enforcement, to work with our clients and to use discretion where and when appropriate.

  15. Bahahahahaha,CVSE is a joke. The junk trucks know where you guys are within 5 min of you setting up.Word goes out over a certain FM radio station thats not in English and poof,junk scabby trucks go another way around. You still pull over good mechanical sound and well maintained trucks and use it to bump the numbers.My Current CVSA decal on the windshield don’t mean anything to the guys n the lower mainland.

    I run 49 states and 9 provinces and BC is the absolute worst province to run in. Jackbooted thugs hiding behind a badge and flashing lights on a vehicle.

    And I ain’t scared to post my real name of give you my email.You have already harrassed me enough. Can’t do anything worse to me..

    • Hello Jason – thanks for sharing your feedback. Mobile enforcement is designed for and utilizes the element of surprise but it also gives our staff the agility to move locations when vehicles begin to go around. Officers can quickly pack up and move to a new location or in some cases we will use scout vehicles on side roads or have multiple locations operating at one time. CVSE officers are trained to honour CVSA decals that are valid in the current quarter unless defects are noticed or the officer wishes to look more closely at the drivers documentation. CVSE officers are also given as much information and data as possible to help them make informed decisions when choosing a vehicle or driver for inspection. We hope this helps!

  16. Most R.V. are not up to standerd,,,30 to 356 ft trailers being toed the drivers do not have a lic. to pull then most safety chains are to long,,etc,,, Just sayin.