Without a doubt, we get more questions about weigh scales and vehicles weights in BC than any other when it comes to Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE).
And the questions don’t just come from professional truck drivers – scales can be relevant to the average person operating… say… a recreational vehicle, moving truck or heavy-duty pickup.
To make it easier for you to find the information you’re looking for, we collected eight of the most frequently asked questions about our weigh scales and vehicle weight.
But do I have to stop at the scale if…
- I’m renting a moving truck. Do I need to stop at the scale? How about fifth wheels? Recreational vehicles? Large private trucks?
All vehicles with a licensed Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), as shown on vehicle registration documents, exceeding 5,500 kg are required to report to scales.
Vehicles are checked at the scales for important safety items. These items remain important regardless of whether the vehicle is being used for personal use.
- Do I have to stop at the scale if I’m operating a snow plow?
Provincial highway maintenance contractors do not need to report to scales while performing winter maintenance (as stated in our maintenance agreement).
However, any other snow plows with a licensed GVW over 5,500 kg are required to report to weigh scales.
- Do I have to stop at the scale if I’m bobtailing? (Bobtailing is when a semi-truck is travelling without a trailer)
Yes, all commercial vehicles with a licensed GVW exceeding 5,500 kg are required to report to scales, regardless of whether they are hauling a load.
Important to note: operators can participate in our Weigh2GoBC program, which allows them to bypass scales by using a transponder to communicate with weigh scales.
- During a provincial state of emergency, do trucks carrying related emergency items (i.e. firefighting equipment, essential goods and supplies, etc.) need to stop at scales and run a log book?
The requirement to report to open inspection stations would still apply unless otherwise exempted (through the State of Emergency or a CVSE Bulletin/Notice/Compliance Circular).
In the past, in the event of a provincial state of emergency, the NSC Program has issued a bulletin on the CVSE What’s New page that clarifies expectations. For example, NSC Bulletin 02-2021 issued November 24, 2021 during the infamous atmospheric river event that destroyed several sections of highway.
The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (MVAR) Division 37, Part 3, s. 37.11 states: This Part [Part 3 Hours of Service] does not apply to a driver who is driving: … (d) a commercial motor vehicle transporting passengers or goods for the purpose of providing relief in the case of an earthquake, flood, fire, famine, drought, epidemic, pestilence or other disaster.
When a driver is exempt from MVAR Division 37 Part 3 – Hours of Service, there is no requirement to maintain a daily log.
Can I use a scale for…
- Can private vehicles use the scale? If so, how much does it cost?
Yes, you can use a scale to weigh your private vehicle at no cost. We recommend calling ahead to make sure the scale is open. Refer to this list of the 30 weigh scale stations in BC.
- Can I purchase permits at a scale?
No, permit applications need to be reviewed before approval. The Provincial Permit Centre is your source for permits.
Weigh Scale Question Potpourri
- On the manufacturer’s information plate on the door of my single axle dump truck, the total Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 10,800 kg. The previous owner had it licensed for 15,400 kg. Can I register it for more than 10,800 kg?
When you license a vehicle, you pay a basic road licensing fee based on the weight you plan to carry and tow. You may increase the amount you are licensed to carry by paying a higher fee; however, this does not mean the vehicle will be able to carry more weight.
Vehicles cannot exceed the manufacturer’s GVWR. Since heavier vehicles cause more damage to the infrastructure of our roads, the owners of these vehicles are required to pay higher licensing fees to offset the cost of maintaining roads. You may notice that the licensed GVW on your insurance papers is higher than your vehicle’s GVWR. This occurs because the licensed weight (GVW) includes both the load you carry on, or in, your vehicle and the load you are towing. GVW refers to the weight you are licensed to carry and tow. GVWR refers to the weight your vehicle is designed to carry.
The weight being towed is not part of the load of the towing vehicle; therefore, you do not need to include it in your calculations. You do, however, need to include the weight your trailer will put on the trailer hitch or fifth wheel. The weight on the hitch (known as the tongue weight) is part of the load of the towing vehicle.
So basically, even if you increase your licensed GVW with ICBC it does not mean you can exceed the manufactured GVWR.
- The other day, I weighed my truck camper and ATV trailer after hours. The read out gave me the numbers, are they in kilograms or pounds?
All weights referred or displayed are in kilograms at our scales, as is all GVW licensing information on the ICBC documents and the data plate information on the vehicle itself (usually on the doorpost). This is also true for the ratings displayed on the tires.
- If a scale looks full, do I still have to stop? Wouldn’t it be dangerous if the line backed up on to the highway?
All commercial vehicles are required to stop at scales, regardless of traffic volume levels. CVSE are aware of issues arising from congestion at certain locations across the province. They have created a plan to prevent vehicle backups and ask for drivers to let us know if the issue continues.
There you have it! Eight common questions, eight straightforward answers (plus a bonus).
Got a question that wasn’t covered here? Feel free to include it in the comments below.
And if you enjoyed reading this, check out these related blogs:
>> Stopping at a Rest Area? Here’s What You Need to Know
>> BC Seasonal Load Restrictions: Answering Trucking Questions
>> What You Need to Know About Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspections
Page 1 of 23 comments on “8 Things You Want to Know About Weigh Scales and Vehicle Weights in BC”
The weigh scale reporting is based on weight. Can you clarify if commercial passenger vehicles as classified by Transport Canada (What is considered a commercial vehicle in Canada?
The term commercial vehicle refers to a truck with a Registered Gross Vehicle Weight (RGVW) in excess of 4,500 kg or a bus with a designated seating capacity of more than 10 persons, including the driver.) are required to stop at BC Weigh Stations?
Hi Dylan, thanks for reaching out. We have passed your question along to our commercial vehicle experts and will share what we learn when we hear back. Thanks for your patience, and please stay tuned.
Hi again, Dylan. Just heard back. As mentioned in the blog post, all vehicles over 5,500kg are required to stop at weigh stations, including all commercial vehicles. Additionally, as noted in Transportation Canada’s Commercial Vehicle Safety in Canada report, all trucks over 4,500kg or busses with more than 10 seats, are considered commercial vehicles and also must stop at weigh stations.
I hope this information is helpful, and thanks again for getting in touch with us.
Can I use a commercial scale to weigh my RV? Thanks Scott
Hi Scott – you sure can. We recommend you call the scale of your choice in advance to make sure it is open and has capacity. Here’s a link to a list of our weigh scale stations and their contact numbers: https://www.cvse.ca/inspection_stations.htm
Are trucks with a truckcamper , required to stop at weighstations
Hi Anna – thanks for your question. All vehicles with a licensed Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), as shown on vehicle registration documents, exceeding 5,500 kg are required to report to scales. Hope this is helpful. Safe travels.
Can the motoring public stop at a scale to stretch a bit if they park off to the side out of the way from truck and scale operations?
Thanks for checking. We would prefer if passenger vehicles didn’t use scale stations, as commercial traffic can quickly accumulate and requires a lot of room to work with scale staff, as required for inspections, stops, etc. There are a number of rest areas and pullouts where you should be able to stretch your legs and take a short break – they can be found on the DriveBC.ca map/restareas. Hope this is helpful!
There is one part that could easily be misinterpreted. While the load of a trailer isn’t added to the tow vehicles weight with regard to GVW except the weight it adds to the rear axle (gooseneck or conventional tow) the trailer DOES get added to the licensed GVWR so while the truck may be under GVW and under 5500kg on its own, the addition of a trailer that makes the combination exceed 5500kg will make it necessary to enter the scale. There are exceptions like fixed weight loads like rv’s and boat trailers where the licensed weight is separated from the combination and therefore despite the combination being over 5500kg, the licensed weight can legally be less and it would not be required to enter the scales.
Hi Michael – thanks for your comment. Some types of trailers have a licensed GVW attached, such as boat or RV trailers. If the trailer isn’t assigned a Licensed GVW as in the case of a commercial or flat deck trailer for example, then the licensed weight of the tow vehicle needs to include it. In these cases, the licensed GVW needs to be high enough to include the total weight of the combination as it goes down the road including load etc.
It should be noted that Licensed GVW and GVW ratings are two entirely separate things that often are mixed up.
Licensed GVW is basically the weight that is being paid for to operate on the roads. There are minimum and maximum amounts, and these are used to determine various things, such as if the vehicle needs annual inspections, or if log books are required etc.
GVW Ratings are the actual engineered ratings of the vehicle and components. These numbers cannot be exceeded even with a permit.
We hope this clarification is helpful.
In British Columbia why does a 3 axle trailer allowed more weight than a 4 axle trailer?
Hi Steve – thanks for your question. One question before we can get you a response – are you referring to total axles on a trailer or axle groupings?
Is there a tip or reporting phone number to call when we see dangerous driving. I.E. speeding, weaving, tailgating, blowing scales, aggressive drivers, elephant races etc. ?
There is a CVSE Report a Violation toll free number: 1-888-775-8785
All commercial vehicles with a licensed GVW exceeding 5,500 kg are required to report to scales, including those being used for bobtailing. Vehicles are checked at the scales for important safety items. These items remain important regardless of whether the vehicle is being used temporarily for personal use.
So why are you saying rvs over 5500 kg
Hi Jansen – the blog states:
Q: I’m renting a moving truck. Do I need to stop at the scale? How about fifth wheels? Recreational vehicles? Large private trucks?
A: All vehicles with a licensed Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), as shown on vehicle registration documents, exceeding 5,500 kg are required to report to scales.
Vehicles are checked at the scales for important safety items.
These items remain important regardless of whether the vehicle is being used for personal use. This includes RVs.
Are we misunderstanding your question?
Most important question for me if the ramp is full . Scale is open . Can we alowed to bypass? Happened only here in hope ( hwy 1) east side. Please clarify this.
Hello Gurpreet- thanks for the great question. All commercial vehicles are required to stop at scales, regardless of traffic volume levels. CVSE are aware issues arising from congestion at this (and other) locations across the province. They have created a plan to prevent vehicle backups and ask for drivers to let us know if the issue continues.
This statement doesn’t answer the question.
Asking drivers to let you know, would mean that they would have to email text or phone the scale to tell the officers that the line up is blocking highway traffic?
That would constitute ‘distracted driving’.
With active cameras the scale operator should have the responsibility of turning lights or signs on & off as necessary- as happens in other jurisdictions when this happens.
Staff will be closely monitoring for congestion at their locations and directing vehicles in danger of blocking traffic.
I have seen many times scale (hope) remain open even traffic is far on highway. In that case what should we do ?
Hi Aman – Staff will be closely monitoring for congestion at their locations and directing vehicles in danger of blocking traffic.