Are Motocross Helmets Street Legal?

are motocross helmets street legal

A common question is “Are Motocross Helmets Street Legal?”

Most of the time, a quality motocross helmet is street legal.  This varies from country to country and is going to be based on the type of certification that the helmet has received from a testing authority.

Are Dirt Bike Helmets Road Legal in the United States?

For a helmet to be street legal in the United States, it must have a DOT certification.  This laws vary by country. The helmet is DOT approved if it has the DOT sticker on the back.  On the back of the helmet there will be an area that says “DOT” as shown below.

Make sure that you are buying from a reputable company.  There have been instances of knock off helmets being sold on Amazon where they have a DOT sticker, but fail the tests.  So make sure you buy a known brand like Fox, Aria, etc.

The only certification recognized in the US is the DOT certification.  SNELL and ECE 22.05 are not recognized.

How to tell if a DOT emblem is real and not fraudulent?

motocross helmet dot emblem
Authentic DOT Emblem

Check the sticker and it should have the following format within the borders of the emblem.

  • Manufacturer Name
  • Model Number
  • The letters “DOT”
  • The letters “FMVSS No. 218” or similar centered below the DOT
  • The word “Certified” centered below the FMVSS No. 218 text

Note:  The format above is required on all helmets from 2013 forward.  If your helmet is older than 2013 then the format may differ and you will have to rely on the brand reputation to determine authenticity.

What is FMVSS 218?

FMVSS 218 stands for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218.  These standards are published and the manufacturer must perform the adequate tests to make sure that their helmet complies.  There is no actual testing done by the US government, they simply issue the standard. 

The enforcement of FMVSS 218 is handled by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) picking a random sampling of helmets and sending them to a third party for testing.

There are strict fines for putting a DOT certification emblem on a helmet that does not pass these standards.

Are Motocross Helmets Street Legal in Canada?

In Canada, it is a little easier. Motocross helmets are street legal in Canada as long as they have one of the following certifications:

  • DOT certification for FMVSS 218
  • A SNELL certification
  • Or, an ECE 22.05 certification

Canada recognizes all three of these certifications as being valid to wear on the street. 

The SNELL certification is a voluntary certification that is widely viewed as being much more stringent than the DOT certification. 

The ECE certification is a similar to the DOT certification, but for Europe.  Note that helmets sold outside of the ECE member nations may be ECE certified, but may not display the emblem.  Only those countries within the ECE member countries are required to display it.

Wrap Up

So where does this leave us?  If you have a dirt bike helmet from a reputable manufacturer then more than likely it is DOT approved and you can wear it on the street.  If you are curious, just look for the emblem, make sure it follows the right format, and you are good to go.

Additional Reading

Top 20 Dirt Bike Helmets Reviewed