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All-Terrain Vehicles

Section 42 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), as amended by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), requires the CPSC to establish a safety standard for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The requirements are codified at 16 CFR part 1420 and apply to ATVs manufactured or imported on or after the effective date (further discussed below).

An ATV is defined at section 42(e)(1) of the CPSA, and codified at 16 CFR § 1420.2(a), as:

  1. Any motorized, off-highway vehicle designed to travel on 3 or 4 wheels, having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control; but 
  2. Does not include a prototype of a motorized, off-highway, all-terrain vehicle that is intended exclusively for research and development purposes unless the vehicle is offered for sale.

Based on the statutory definition, the features of an ATV are:

  • a motorized vehicle (which includes—but is not necessarily limited to—gasoline or electric motors)
  • for use off-highway (see below)
  • utilizing 3 or 4 wheels (see below “Restriction on Three Wheel ATVs”)
  • including a straddle seat (as opposed to “bucket” seats)
  • a handlebar for steering (as opposed to a steering wheel)

As “off-highway” vehicles, ATVs differ from “motor vehicles,” which are primarily used on public streets, roads, and highways and are subject to the jurisdiction of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. See 49 U.S.C. § 30102(a)(7). As “off-highway” vehicles, ATVs also differ from ride-on toys, which are typically used on flat, smooth surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, or well-groomed lawns and backyards, commonly found in residential areas.

Restrictions on Three-Wheel ATVs

Per section 42(c) of the CPSA, codified at 16 CFR § 1420.4, new three-wheel ATVs may not be imported into or distributed in commerce. This is effective as of September 13, 2008.

Requirements for Four-Wheel ATVs

The requirements for four-wheeled ATVs are codified at 16 CFR § 1420.3, and apply to products manufactured or imported on or after April 13, 2009. The requirements are as follows:

  1. Every ATV must comply with all applicable provisions of the ANSI/SVIA standard
  2. Every ATV must be subject to an active “ATV action plan” on file with the CPSC and approved by the Commission (see our ATV Action Plans business guidance page for more information)
  3. Every ATV must bear a label certifying compliance to the ANSI/SVIA standard; identifying the manufacturer, importer, or private labeler; and identifying the ATV action plan to which it is subject
  4. Manufacturers, distributors, and importers must maintain compliance with all provisions of their approved ATV action plan

The final rule incorporates by reference American National Standard for Four-Wheel All-Terrain Vehicles (ANSI/SVIA), and 16 CFR § 1420.3(a) identifies the latest Commission-accepted version of the standard. A copy of the standard is available for purchase at


Section 14(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) requires domestic manufacturers or importers of record of consumer products subject to a regulation, standard, or ban enforced by the CPSC to certify that those products meet the requirements of the standard by issuing a certificate of compliance (Children’s Product Certificate or CPC for children’s products, General Certificate of Compliance or GCC for general-use products). For more information on certification, please visit our CPC business guidance page or GCC business guidance page.

Additional Information


For more information, please contact the Small Business Ombudsman (SBO) team:

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