Chapter 4519 of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) defines and provides for the registration of snowmobiles and all-purpose vehicles (APVs), establishes standards and operating regulations of such vehicles, and provides for the development of trails and special areas for the operation of snowmobiles and APVs on state-controlled land and waters. The law regarding APVs applies equally to off-highway motorcycles. Regulations require the registration of snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles and APVs every three years, and the annual registration of dealers who sell or furnish these vehicles for hire.


Ohio law defines “snowmobile” as a self-propelled vehicle steered by skis, runners or caterpillar treads and designed to be used principally on snow or ice. A motor vehicle dealer’s license is NOT required in order to sell these types of vehicles.

An “all-purpose vehicle” is any self-propelled vehicle steered by wheels or caterpillar treads, or a combination of both designed primarily for cross-country travel on land and water or on more than one type of terrain. The definition of an APV includes vehicles known as all-terrain vehicles, all-season vehicles, mini-bikes, trail bikes and vehicles that operate on a cushion of air. “Allpurpose vehicle” does not include a utility vehicle as defined in O.R.C. section 4501.01 (VV) or any vehicle principally used in playing golf, any motor vehicle or aircraft required to be registered under Chapter 4503 or 4561 of the Revised Code and any vehicle excepted from definition as a motor vehicle by division (B) of section 4501.01 of the Revised Code. A motor vehicle dealer’s license is required in order to sell these types of vehicles. “Off-highway motorcycle” means every motorcycle, as defined in O.R.C. section 4511.01, is designed to be operated primarily on lands other than a street or highway. A motor vehicle dealer’s license is required in order to sell these types of vehicles.



Effective June 7, 2010, recreational vehicles with the body type “AT” will require the issuance of a metal license plate. The APV license plate must be displayed to be plainly visible. Snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles and APVs must be properly registered with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or Local Deputy Registrar. A $34.75 registration fee is collected for the issuance of a three-year registration. An Ohio Certificate of Title must be presented to register an off-highway motorcycle or APV. Proof of ownership for a renewal or transfer registration for a snowmobile may be verified with a dealer’s bill of sale or a snowmobile/moped affidavit form (BMV 5706). Any deputy registrar is able to issue registration certificates, transfer certificates and changes of owner’s address certificates.

Registration certificates for snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles, APVs, mini-bikes, and trail bikes are accompanied by an alphanumeric decal to be applied to the vehicle. The registration is valid for three years. The original registration number for all vehicles is permanent and must remain with the vehicle. This number must be displayed so as to be plainly visible. All registrations expire on December 31, in the third year after the date of issuance. Application for renewal of a registration may be made no earlier than 90 days prior to expiration. No registration is required for APVs that are used primarily for agriculture purposes when owner qualifies for the current agricultural use valuation tax credit, unless it is to be used on any public land, trail, or right-of-way per O.R.C. 4519.02 (HB1 effective 10/16/09).

If a customer has an APV, only uses it on private property and does not qualify for the exception, an APV registration must be purchased. Customers who currently have a valid APV sticker are not required to immediately obtain metal plates. Once the customer needs to buy, renew, transfer or get a replacement sticker, a metal plate would be issued at that time. Once a metal license plate has been issued to an APV, the registration can be transferred to a different APV with the same owner if the original APV has been sold. These APV license plates will follow the normal transfer rules regarding stock license plates.


Every owner or operator of a snowmobile, off-highway motorcycle or APV who is a resident of a state not having registration law similar to Ohio’s and who expects to use the snowmobile or all-purpose vehicle in Ohio, shall apply to a deputy registrar for a temporary operating permit. The temporary operating permit shall be issued for a period not to exceed one year from the date of issuance, and shall include the name and address of the owner and operator of the snowmobile or APV, and such other information as the registrar considers necessary. There is a registration fee of $14.75. Every owner or operator receiving a temporary operating permit shall display the same upon the reasonable request of any law enforcement officer or other authorized person.


In Ohio, only a person who holds a current valid motor vehicle operator license, commercial driver license, probationary license or a motorcycle endorsement may operate a snowmobile, off-highway motorcycle or APV on any street or highway, on any portion of the right-of-way thereof, or on any public land or waters, as provided for under the laws of Ohio. The law prohibits the operation of such vehicles by persons less than 16 years of age, on land that is not private property owned by or leased to their parents or guardian, unless accompanied by a licensed motor vehicle operator who is at least 18 years of age. The law permits the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to allow minors between the ages of 12 and 16 to operate snowmobiles and APVs without a license on state-controlled land under its jurisdiction if accompanied by a parent or guardian who is a licensed motor vehicle operator, 18 years of age or older. O.R.C. section 4519.46 requires the operator of any snowmobile, off-highway motorcycle or APV involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury or death, or property damage in excess of $100 to make a report within 48 hours to the Ohio State Highway Patrol or to the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the area in which the accident occurred, and to forward a written report within 30 days to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

Operating Regulations

Ohio law requires that all pertinent provisions of the motor vehicle traffic laws and of the laws prohibiting specified offenses relating to motor vehicles, applies to the operation of snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles, and APVs.

Authorization is given to utilize snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles and all APVs to be used:

1. To cross a highway other than a limited access highway or freeway;

2. On county and township highways whenever approved by those having jurisdictional authority over them;

3. Off and alongside streets or highways from the place of unloading the vehicle to the place at which it is intended and authorized to be used;

4. On the berm or shoulder of any highway, other than a limited access highway, or freeway when the terrain is such that the vehicle can be used safely;

5. On the berm or shoulder of a county or township road when traveling from one area of operation to another.

The operation of such vehicles is prohibited under the following conditions:

1. On any limited access highway or freeway or the right-of-way thereof;

2. On any private property without special permission of owner or in any nursery or planting area;

3. On any state-controlled land or waters except those which have been posted as permitting snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles or APVs;

4. On tracks or right-of-way of any operating railroad;

5. When carrying a loaded or uncased firearm, bow or other hunting implement;

6. To chase, pursue, capture or kill any animal or wildlife;

7. From sunset to sunrise, unless displaying a lighted headlight and taillight as required under equipment regulations.

O.R.C. section 4519.48 allows local authorities to regulate the operation of snowmobiles, off highway motorcycles and APVs on streets and highways and other public property under their jurisdiction, but prohibits them from requiring the registration of such vehicles on a local basis. The law provides penalties similar to those imposed for the related offenses involving motor vehicles, for violations of registration, equipment or operating requirements.

Persons who are found guilty of violating the rules and regulations pertaining to the operation of snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles and all-purpose vehicles as contained therein are subject to a fine and/or the loss of their vehicle registration for a period of 60 days. In such cases, the court is required to forward the Certificate of Registration to the registrar who is to retain it until the expiration of the impoundment.


All dealer sales of APVs and off-highway motorcycles are required to be titled in the purchasers name. Any Ohio resident that purchases an APV or off-highway motorcycle and intends to apply for registration to use the vehicle on federal, state or county parklands must already have an Ohio title prior to applying for registration. As of July 1, 1999, House Bill 66 states in part: “Anyone wishing to sell an APV must have a Certificate of Title and assign it to a new owner.” Contact your local Clerk of Courts title office for further information.


All dealers of off-highway motorcycles and APVs that are defined as motor vehicles (see definitions section), must make application (BMV 4320), meet all physical requirements and be issued a new or used motor vehicle dealers license and plate by the Dealer Licensing Section in order to sell these types of vehicles.

For more information on dealer licensing, registration, applications and fees, visit or call 614-752-7636.