Trailer Light and Reflector Requirements

Utility TrailerNine lamps and six reflectors are the minimum required by law to be installed and functional on your trailer. If that trailer is not a small one, the number grows rapidly to stay in compliance depending on its length and width. Not just any lamp or reflector will do either, they all must be the right device for the right place and comply with standards.

utility trailer light and reflector positioning

Commercially Manufactured Trailers

Manufacturers of trailers must comply with the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act and Regulations. Transport Canada publishes a guide to light and reflector requirements for trailers that shows where these items must be located and which compliance markings they are required to show.

U-Bilt Trailers

Should you choose to build your own trailer, you will have to comply with Division 4 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. Those regulations hold you to the same set of standards as the commercial manufacturers.

The police and designated inspection facilities enforce them after construction is completed and the trailers are in use on our highways.

Minimum Lighting Requirements

The minimum consists of yellow side marker lights and reflectors at each side of the front, red side marker lamps and reflectors at each side of the rear, red stop lamps, tail lamps and reflectors at both sides facing the rear and finally a white license plate lamp.

All of these devices are marked according to standards identifying them as acceptable for their purpose and may or may not be combined in the same unit.

automotive rear lamp compliance markings

The lighting assembly shown in the image above is a combination of rear reflector (A), rear signal (I), stop (S) and tail (T) lights. The rear side marker (P2, P3, PC or PC2) function is not present.

Large Trailers

If your trailer happens to be more than 2.05 meters (80") in width or 9.1 meters (30') in length, additional lamps will be required. These generally consist of intermediate side marker lamps, clearance lamps and identification lamps, depending on which dimensions are exceeded.

conspicuity reflective tape

Conspicuity markings in the form of  reflective tape will be required for trailers over 2.05 meters in width and having a GVWR more than 4,356 kg (10,000 lb).


When I started policing in the 1980s trailers that were narrow enough not to obscure the lights on the vehicle pulling it were not required to have brake lights. This has not been the case for many years now and all lights and reflectors are required, even for narrow trailers.


The lack of lights and reflectors may be enforced with an inspection order, traffic ticket of both. Depending on the situation and extent of the defects a Notice & Order Box 3, Box 2 or Box 1 could be issued. Traffic ticket penalties are $109 with no penalty points.

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