Canada Car Window Tinting Laws

Is It Legal to Tint My Front Windows and Windshield? We Have The Answers.

You are an upright and model citizen if you are trying to figure out whether tinting your front windows and windshield in the vehicle that you own is legal. Tint Tech is the tint specialist in Calgary, and so we make it our business to keep you informed about this aspect of tinting. After all, we don’t want you to get in trouble with the law and pay hefty fines. 

Benefits Of Car window Tinting

Window tinting, by Calgary’s Tint Tech (or some other window-tinting shop), has myriad benefits for your vehicle. Auto window tinting provides privacy for you and your passengers. Window tinting can dissuade would-be burglars because they cannot see what is inside your car. Window tints can also block out harmful UV rays to protect your skin and keep your car’s dashboard and upholstery from fading prematurely. Also, they can keep the interior of your car cooler by reducing the amount of sunlight, and thus the amount of heat that comes into the inside of your car. 

Of course, we cannot forget the most important reason for having tinted windows – because it looks awesome!  Nothing enhances the look of your car more than tinting the windows. Window tint provides the finishing touch to your prized sports car, or takes your normal sedan and gives it the sporty look you want.  

Even with a myriad of benefits, law enforcement does not look favorably upon window tinting. To state a bald face fact, they’d rather not have it at all. But why is that?  

Reasons Why Law Enforcement Officers Are Not Real Fans of Window Tinting

While it may seem unfair that police cars can have heavily tinted windows while the rest of us cannot, there are some legitimate law enforcement concerns surrounding window tint for regular cars on the road.  

1. First, virtually every time a police officer executes a car stop, the officer does not know what he or she is getting into. There have been cases where a low-risk, routine car stop, such as where the car was stopped for playing music too loud, turns into a deadly situation because the driver pulls a gun on the officer who approached the driver’s side window. Thus, being able to see the driver and his or her movements and body language through a clear window can help an officer who is making a stop.

2. Second, with the exponential increase in texting while driving, police officers prefer to be able to see the driver in order to properly issue a summons for texting while driving. 

3. Third, heavy tinting could dramatically decrease visibility when driving at night.  Therefore, law enforcement has a concern about public safety as well.

Recent Royal Canadian Mounted Police News Releases

Recently, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) put out a news release regarding window tinting. It warns motorists with regard to window tinting throughout Canada.

Specifically, in June 2018, the RCMP Traffic Services warned motorists that they should remove any aftermarket tint from their front-side windows or face a possible fine. Noting an uptick in distracted driving and seatbelt noncompliance, the RCMP states that tinted windows hamper the ability for police to “see-through front side windows to ensure drivers are wearing their seatbelt and are not using cell phones or texting while driving.”  

The warning also noted the safety issue with children and other pedestrians being unable to make eye contact with drivers at crosswalks, as well as a need to identify people who are driving erratically.

Are There Any Exemptions Or Exceptions?

Some states allow medical exemptions for window tinting. These exemptions allow the application of a film darker than that prescribed by the tint laws of the said province. However, in Canada, there are no such exemptions. Even if you have sensitive skin or a condition that aggravates due to exposure to sunlight, you still have to adhere to the tint laws.

So, Is It Legal to Have Tint On My Front Windows or Windshield?

The answer to that question depends on which province you are talking about. In Canada, window tint is regulated by Canada’s Motor Vehicle Law, as well as the laws for specific provinces. Below, we discuss Canada’s Motor Vehicle Law, and then the specific tinting laws in each province.   

Please note that when discussing the law in each province, we provide percentages. Those percentages represent “visible light transmission levels” (VLT). So, if the percentage of tint is 35% VLT, that means that 35% of visible light will pass through the window film.  

In simple terms, the lower the percentage, then the darker the tint. 5% VLT is very dark (as it only lets in 5% of visible light), whereas 70% film is very light (letting in 70% of visible light).  Interesting fact – most automakers slightly tint their glass, usually to about 80% VLT.

Canada’s Motor Vehicle Act

The Motor Vehicle Act provides that no tint (not even light tinting) is permitted on windshields below 75 mm from the top of the windshield. Moreover, no tint is permitted on the front side windows. Residents who travel frequently between provinces may be wise to install car tint that is legal in the majority of Canada’s provinces.    

Province by Province Break-up

  • Alberta

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • British Columbia

Windshield – tint can only go down 75 mm or 3 inches from the top of the windshield

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • Manitoba

Windshield – tint can only go down 127 mm or 5 inches from the top of the windshield with no less than 25% VLT.

Front Side – Must have more than 50% VLT

  • New Brunswick

Windshield – 70% VLT permissible.

Front Side – 70% VLT permissible

  • Newfoundland

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • NW Territories

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • Nova Scotia

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • Nunavut

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • Ontario

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • Prince Edward

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • Quebec

Windshield – tint can only go down 15 cm or 6 inches from the top of the windshield 

Front Side – Over 70% VLT permissible

  • Saskatchewan

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

  • Yukon

Windshield – no tint allowed

Front Side – no tint allowed

* Source is https://www.tinting-laws.com/canada/ (the site indicates that it is frequently updated, so be sure to consult this website to get the most up-to-date information on tint laws).

Penalties For Not Following The Rules

If you don’t follow the window tint laws of the province, it is considered an illegal act for which you can be fined. Typically, if your car is found to be non-compliant with the tint laws, you can expect a fine of $100 when caught by the police. In addition to that, you will have to remove the tint film, which is an additional expenditure. In case you still do not remove the tint, expect a fine of around $600.

At times, you may even be asked to take your vehicle off the road. It will remain unauthorized for driving until such time that an inspection deems it compliant for driving once again. Failure to comply may make you liable for a penalty in the range of $150 to $300 each time your fails the inspection.

How About Factory-Made Tinted Windows?

You did not get the window tint, but it was a factory provided by the car manufacturer. What happens in that case? Many cars have a factory-equipped window tint, and The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of Canada permits it if it has as much as 70% VLT.

You cannot call an aftermarket window tint legal if your state does not permit so. If you do apply it, be sure to follow the state regulations for the same.

Conclusion

In sum, window tint may be something you just have to have. Yet, penalties can be harsh, and law enforcement in Canada is not forgiving when it comes to illegal tint on car windows. So, be sure to consult the applicable laws before deciding to get window tint. But, once you have made the decision, and reviewed what the legal requirements are, be sure to talk to one of the window tint specialists at Calgary’s Tint Tech. We can be reached at 403-968-8468. At Tint Tech of Calgary, we ensure that we will do a perfect job the first time. Call today.

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