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A Primer on the Canadian ELD Rule

On June 13, 2019, Transport Canada released its long-awaited final Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule and technical specifications (design and performance specs), bringing an end to a multi-year rule-making process in Canada.

There are many similarities between the Canadian and U.S. ELD rules.  In fact, the vast majority of the Canadian ELD design and performance specifications mirror the U.S. specs. For example, Canadian ELDs must be synchronized with the CMVs engine to accurately capture driving time and other important vehicle data, they are required to provide for personal conveyance and yard moves operating categories for drivers, and they must include simple methods for data viewing and transfer.

The purpose of this piece is to highlight some of the key differences between the Canadian and U.S. ELD rule and technical specs.  But, let’s start with some of the basics.  And, for ease of understanding, when referring to Transport Canada’s ELD rule, we use the acronym CAN ELD rule.


The Basics

  • The CAN ELD rule included a 2-year implementation period, which means the industry compliance date was set for June 2021;
  • Until the June 2021 compliance date, motor carriers and drivers operating in Canada were able to use ELDs, automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs, which are called electronic recording devices or ERDs in Canada), or paper logs;
  • The CAN ELD rule does not include any type of grandfather provision for carriers who have already voluntarily adopted AOBRDs or ERDs;
  • The CAN ELD rule does not change the underlying Canadian hours of service rules—the only difference is that a driver’s hours will be required to be tracked using electronic methods.


Some Key Differences Between the Canadian & U.S. ELD Rules/Tech Specs

  1. The CAN ELD rule does not include a grandfather provision.
  • All motor carriers and drivers subject to the CAN ELD rule and currently using some type of ERD or AOBRD in Canada must migrate to ELDs by June 2021;


  1. The CAN ELD rule exemptions are different. Carriers that fall in the following four categories do not need to transition to ELDs:
  • CMVs that are operated under an hours of service permit issued administratively (by a Canadian govt agency);
  • CMVs that are operated under a statutory exemption;
  • CMVs that are rented for terms of 30 days or less (U.S. rental truck exemption is 8 days or less);
  • CMVs manufactured before the year 2000 (which is the same as the U.S. exemption)


  1. The CAN ELD rule includes a more stringent ELD certification process.
  • Each ELD model and software version must be certified by an independent, accredited 3rd party certification body;
  • Transport Canada will soon determine which 3rd party bodies become accredited to test and certify ELDs;
  • When an ELD is 3rd party certified, it will be assigned a certification number and be listed as certified on a Transport Canada website;
  • Motor carriers and driver operating in Canada will be required to use only certified ELDs.


  1. The CAN ELD rule requires different data transfer methods.
  • Each ELD must be capable of emailing a pdf file to an address provided by an inspector;
  • The ELD must also have an on-screen display of the data, or be capable of printing it;
  • ELD data may also be transferred using Bluetooth or USB 2.0, but these methods are optional and not required.


  1. The CAN ELD rule has a different ELD malfunction timeframe.
  • During a malfunction, drivers may use paper logs for a maximum of 14 days, or until he/she returns to the home terminal from the currently planned trip if it’s longer than 14 days;
  • Also, motor carriers must maintain a register of malfunctions, including prescribed information such as when it occurred, the nature of it, and the actions taken to repair or replace it.


Some Additional, Important Information

  • Canada has a 75-kilometer (about 46 miles) limit on the distance driven under personal conveyance in a 24-hour period.  As such, the CAN ELD rule requires the device to automatically switch to driving status if the 75-km limit is exceeded.
  • The CAN ELD rule describes what constitutes an ELD “supporting document,” and requires drivers to forward all supporting documents to the motor carrier but does not establish a minimum number of supporting docs to be retained by a motor carrier.


The CAN ELD rules intentionally mirror, in most respects, the U.S. rules to allow for continued, seamless cross border operations by Canadian and U.S. carriers and drivers.  While there are some differences between the rules and the approach to electronically record a driver’s hours of service, most stakeholders view the Canadian 3rd party certification process of the ELD, and each software version, as the biggest and most significant difference.

While most carriers can expect to use a simple over-the-air software upgrade to make their U.S. ELD compliant with the Canadian ELD rules, Canadian government and industry officials expect establishing the certification process to take approximately 12 months.  Motor carriers and drivers will then have approximately 12 months to work with vendors to ensure their current ELD is compliant or, in some cases, carriers will need to acquire and adopt certified ELDs prior to the June 2021 compliance date.


Have additional questions related to the ELD mandate?

Check our ELD Resource page to stay up to date on everything related to the mandate.