In British Columbia window tint for cars, trucks, and SUVs can help keep your vehicle cooler, better protected from sun damage, safer against potential break-ins, and it can make your driving experience safer and more pleasant. All that good stuff noted, many types of auto window tint in British Columbia are illegal. And the penalties and fines for illegal tint in BC can be quite severe.
As long as you are careful to get legal window tint for cars in British Columbia, you can and by all means should have window film applied on all legal windows if your car does not already have factory tint in place. In BC, there is no need to worry about the VLT (or visible light transmission) rating of tints, because on some windows no tint is allowed, while on others the tint darkness is not regulated and any darkness of tint can be used.
We will look at each window of vehicles in turn in order to make it clear what tint is legal in British Columbia and what tint is prohibited.
Windshield Window Tint in British Columbia
You are allowed to apply windshield tint to a thin strip at the top of the windshield of a vehicle registered in British Columbia. BC tint laws allow for a 7.5-centimeter strip (three inches) of window film applied onto the glass, and this strip of tinting can help keep the sun out of your eyes as you drive. It is a great safety feature and should by all means be applied, but it’s also readily visible from the exterior of the vehicle, so police will see if you get illegal windshield tinting.
Front Side Window Tint in British Columbia
Window tint is completely illegal on the front side windows of all privately owned vehicles in British Columbia. That means the windows beside the driver and shotgun seat must be completely free of window film. While this is a frustration for many vehicle owners, there are logical reasons to ban tint on these windows. First, the clear windows allow police and other authorities to see into the cabin and ensure their own safety during a traffic stop.
And second, because window film greatly reinforces auto glass, tinting can make it hard to break a window and allow easy escape from the vehicle (or allow rescue personnel to get into the automobile) if the doors are damaged during an accident.
That said, you are allowed to install optically clear but UV-blocking window film on these front side windows.
Back Side Window Tint in British Columbia
The windows on the side of a car behind the driver’s row may be tinted to any darkness, including complete blackout privacy tinting. This is true for the back seat row in a sedan or for multiple rows in vans or larger SUVs. This rear side window tint can completely block the view into the vehicle, which can help keep occupants private and keep possessions stored in the vehicle protected from the sight of potential thieves while the car is parked.
Rear Window Tint in British Columbia
As with the rear side windows, the rear window (also known as the rear windshield) of a vehicle in BC may be tinted down to any darkness. Rear windows can be completely dark from the outside, blocking all view into the vehicle.
If any window tint is present on the rear window, even if it is not dark privacy tint, then the vehicle must have exterior rear view windows (AKA side view windows) in place.
Other British Columbia Car Tint Laws
The rules are clear cut when it comes to which windows of cars can be tinted in BC, but there is more to know in terms of details. For example, all reflective tint is banned in British Columbia, and thus many colors of tint are effectively prohibited, like metallic and mirrored window films.
No medical exemptions are allowed for darker tint, so don’t bother seeking work arounds for the tint laws in BC. Certificates and stickers that prove your tint is legal are not required, so at least that common frustration is avoided.
Illegal Window Tint Penalties in British Columbia
If a police officer finds illegal tint on your vehicle in BC you can be issued a ticket for $109. However, you will also be given a warning to have the illegal tint removed and you will only have a few days in which to get the banned tint taken off the car.
Failure to remove illegal window tint in a timely manner can lead to a much larger $595 fine and, in some cases, your vehicle will be impounded and forcibly removed from the road until the illegal tint is taken off, and all of the expenses involved are assessed to you, the vehicle owner.
It’s always a better move to get legal window tint installed in the first place and avoid the threat of penalties that can end up being quite pricey and can lead to larger legal troubles if your car ends up confiscated by the authorities as a result of the illicit window film.