Blog Tinted Window Laws In Ontario

Nov 22, 2021

Your Tinted Windows Could Be Breaking The Law

black truck with a sunset reflecting off windows

Car window tinting goes beyond just another add-on for your car.

Window tinting is a standard car modification that drivers of all types of vehicles consider. But what are the benefits? Is it legal to have tinted windows in the country?

In this blog, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of window tinting and how it can affect your car insurance.

Are Tinted Windows Legal In Canada?

Provincial and federal laws across Canada determine how dark of a tint you can add. 70% of light must be able to pass through the windows. There are some specifics around what windows can be tinted and how dark. For example :

  • Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario do not allow the vehicle’s front windows to be tinted. There are no rules regarding the backseat windows or the rear window.
  • Alberta and Ontario do not allow the windshield to be tinted. Quebec allows a strip no more than 15 cm wide applied to the top part of the windshield, and British Columbia allows a strip of up to 7.5 cm (75 mm) below the top of the windshield.

When you buy or lease a new vehicle, you do not need to worry about how dark the tinting is because manufacturers must adhere to the federal government.

On the other hand, if you buy a used vehicle, it’s up to you to ensure the tinting complies with the laws. It is not the dealer's responsibility to check.

Legal Window Tint Laws Ontario

Tinting is made to provide privacy and security, but you do not want to obstruct your ability to see and drive safely. In Ontario, you should avoid placing any window film tinting on your windshield and only use a tint of 70% VLT (visible light transmittance) or higher on your front side windows.

Are Front Tinted Windows Legal In Ontario?

As of 2020, vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2017, are prohibited from after-market tinting on the front windshield. The legal tint on the front left and right window is 30%.

Window Tinting Rules In Canada

graphic of window tints

Depending on which province you reside in, tinted windows are different. In some places, you can get your front windows tinted; in others, it's illegal. Here's a look at the laws of tinted windows across Canada :

Ontario

  • Windshield : No tint allowed
  • Rear : Any tint allowed as long as the vehicle has both left and right side rear-view mirrors
  • Front Side : 70% VLT or higher
  • Back Side : Any Tint

British Columbia

  • Windshield : The top portion of the windshield may be tinted up to 7.5 cm
  • Rear : Any tint allowed as long as the vehicle has both left and right side rear-view mirrors
  • Front Side : No tint
  • Back Side : Any Tint

Manitoba

  • Windshield : The top portion of the windshield may be tinted up to 12.7 cm with no less than 25%
  • Rear : Any tint allowed if both rear-view mirrors are on the vehicle
  • Front Side : Tint must be over 50% VLT
  • Back Side : 35% VLT or more is allowed

Quebec

  • Windshield : Top 15 cm can be tinted
  • Rear : Any tint allowed on vehicles with both rear-view mirrors
  • Front Side : 70% VLT allowed
  • Back Side : Any tint level

Saskatchewan, Nunavut, NWT, PEI, Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia do not allow any tint in the windshield or front side. However, you are allowed any tint on the rear window and backside any VLT.

Yukon regulations state that windows cannot be obscured in any way that makes driving a hazard. Check with local authorities if you are travelling there or currently living there and consider getting your windows tinted.

Why Are There Laws Around Window Tinting?

One of the main reasons the country has laws regarding tinted windows is that police need to see through the front side windows to ensure everyone’s safety. Three reasons why there are laws around it are :

  1. They need to check for occupants wearing their seatbelts or if the driver is texting and driving.
  2. Anyone who reports an erratic driver needs to testify and confirm the identity of the driver who committed the infraction.
  3. Pedestrians and cyclists need to be able to make clear eye contact with drivers before proceeding.

If you are pulled over, some police will check if your vehicle has a legal tint by using a photometer to measure the percentage of light that goes through the window.

How To Check If Tinted Windows Are Legal

black sports car forest background

As of spring 2021, Timmins police officers have a new tool to check the transparency of tinted windows. The town was concerned about the increase in stunt driving, and finding weapons or drugs inside cars.

If you are getting a vehicle with tint, you can check if it’s at the legal amount. Here’s how :

  1. Roll the car window down halfway. Use a tint meter or download an app.
  2. Place the metered on the window by sliding it down the partially rolled window. The meter may also come with specific instructions.
  3. Read the digital display – it will give you an exact percentage or opacity rating.

If you notice your windows are lower than the legal limit, consider getting the tint removed

Does Window Tinting Affect Insurance?

If you comply with the window tinting laws, you will likely not see an increase in your Ontario car insurance.

However, since each province or state have regulations, you could receive a ticket if your level of tint is illegal there. Always check the rules of the destination you are going to before hitting the road.

If you get into an accident in another jurisdiction and your tint is illegal, it could increase your insurance costs. This is because your insurer may handle the claim differently since you violated the law wherever the incident occurred.

Benefits Of Tinted Windows

Tinting your windows goes beyond an aesthetic desire. There are various benefits to window tinting, such as :

  • Blocking UV rays : Some vitamin D is good for your health, but too much can be harmful and lead to ageing skin and skin cancer. Even in your vehicle, it’s important to practice sun protection - skin cancers are more common on the left side since drivers are most directly exposed through a window on their left side.
  • Reduce glare : We’ve all been driving and experienced the glare from other vehicles when driving at night.
  • Increase security : Tinted windows make it harder for thieves to see valuables and break into your car.
  • Protect interior : Sunlight can discolour the upholstery inside your automobile. Tinting can help protect your investment and prevent leather and vinyl from fading.
  • Solar heat rejection : Window film can black anywhere from 35%-65% of the solar heat that builds up inside a car – you’ll balance climate and comfort for everyone.
  • Shattered glass protection : The film is designed to keep the glass from shattering if an object hits it. If there is an accident, passengers can be protected from broken glass shards, and thieves will find it more challenging to break.

How To Choose The Legal Tint Percentage

Are you ready to tint your windows? It’s important to understand the percentages before you commit. The lower the number, the darker the tint, which may lead to problems.

man tinting windows on a car
  • 50 % tint is an ideal option if you don’t want complete darkness on your windows. This level will still block out UV rays and reduce glare.
  • Applying a 35% tint is a bit darker but still easier to see through.
  • If you’re seeking a tint to prevent vehicle theft, 20% is often the best choice. You can see through, but if someone is looking in, it can be difficult.
  • Vehicles that come with a factory tint are between 15% and 20%.
  • The darkest tint you can get is 5%; however, it is essential to know the rules in your area. Often this tint is used with private cars and limos.

Before you get your windows tinted, ask yourself the following questions :

  1. How do you want your car to look?
  2. Why do you want to tint your windows?
  3. What film should you use?
  4. What do other models of your vehicle look like tinted?
  5. Are you doing it yourself or seeking a professional?

Working with a professional installer can ensure a quality job. They can help you choose a percentage that is still legal.


Window Tinting FAQs

Penalties for illegal car window tint in Ontario result in an $85 – $500 fine. There may be additional surcharges and fees involved.

The darkest car window tint you can apply in Canada is 70%. Specifics around which windows and how dark the tint vary by province.

Some states and provinces do not allow tinted windows due to safety and security purposes. It’s important to note that most places do not allow for an entire windshield to be tinted but have regulations around window tinting front, side, and rear windows.

Tinting your windows will cost around $100-$500 depending on where you go, the type of film, and if you choose a professional or DIY.

A Final Word On Tinted Window Laws

The best window tint percentages are the ones that will meet all your purposes for doing it in the first place. Remember to check your local laws and be positive about the look you are going for – safety always comes before style.

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