You’ve moved to Canada, and you want to drive your car here. Depending on where you’re from, you need to get a Canadian driver’s license and a Canadian vehicle permit or reciprocal permit.
You can drive your car or truck in Canada for up to 12 months with a valid U.S. driver’s license.
What You Need To Drive A Car In Canada
1. International Driving Permit (IDP)
The first thing you need is your International Driving Permit (IDP). This translates the information on your home license across borders and gives you more mobility. Your IDP will be valid for one year after you get it.
IDPs are available online through your state’s AAA website or AAA offices and at most gas stations and car dealerships. You must be 18 years of age or older to access IDP, so you will need to provide your date of birth.
2. Canadian Driver’s License
To get a Canadian driver’s license, you will need to show your home driver’s license, which is valid for at least six months after entry into Canada.
If you still need to get your U.S. driver’s license or IDP renewed, you can do so before the U.S.
Department of Transportation approves the renewal of your home state driver’s license or IDP, known as reciprocity.
If you have worked in Canada and have a work permit, you can get a Canadian driver’s license simultaneously as your work permit.
3. Canadian Car Permit
You will need your valid U.S. driver’s license, a completed Vehicle Import Form, and proof of automobile insurance before driving with a foreign license in Canada.
You can purchase this permit at the border when you arrive or within seven days; you must provide proof of residence. The cost is $40 Canadian (approximately $33)
If you have a Canadian car permit and a U.S driver’s license, you are close to being fully permitted to drive in Canada.
4. Reciprocal Permit
If you’re from one of the states with a reciprocal agreement with Canada, you are exempt from paying for a Canadian driver’s license and import permit.
You will need to show your home state driver’s license and present your valid U.S. Interstate Driver’s License at the border or within seven days of entry into Canada.
5. Road Rules in Canada
Driving in Canada is very similar to driving in the U.S. It’s important to know the different road rules in Canada and obey them as you would in any other country you drive in.
It would be best to learn these road rules since driving rules aren’t the same all over Canada. There are some specific road rules to Canada that you need to know.
– Road Signs
In Canada, you need to obey all the traffic signs. They are placed in the same places as in the U.S., so you will not have difficulty following them. Road signs alert you of a hazard, give directions, or help with traffic flow.
– Car Speed limit
The speed limit for cars and motorbikes is the same in all the provinces and territories. The maximum speed limit in Alberta is 100 kilometers an hour (or 80 miles an hour), and in Quebec, it’s 110 kilometers an hour (or 75 miles an hour).
– Traffic Rules
Some road rules are similar to those in other countries like California, but they have their own road rules in Canada, and you must follow them.
The law states that seatbelts must be used in vehicles in Canada. Seats are designed to restrain children and adults. The use of seatbelts for adults is voluntary, but the law states that everyone must wear a seatbelt whether they use it or not.
– Mobile Phone Use
Some provinces in Canada allow you to use your mobile phone while only o hands-free devices.
It’s unlawful to use handheld devices to make or receive a call or text message when driving unless it has a speakerphone or an integrated Bluetooth system.
– Toll Road
Driving on a toll road is only permitted if you have pre-paid the toll before the trip or a valid electronic toll (e-toll) transponder attached to your vehicle. Toll roads are similar to interstate highways except that they have higher fees.
Although smoking isn’t outlawed in cars, most provinces make it illegal to smoke in your vehicle if there are children under the age of 16.
– Alcohol Restrictions
You are not allowed drink alcohol in your vehicle while driving. You can only do so once you’ve stopped at your destination and exited your vehicle. After drinking, you are not allowed to handle any vehicle controls, even during a slow speed or stopped in an isolated area.
– Winter Driving
Driving in winter can be tricky, especially in southern states. Before you start driving in winter, learn how to drive safely during the winter months and study the weather reports to know how to dress and what clothing is appropriate for driving in these conditions.
It’s an essential part of winter driving to plan how to deal with the cold weather before you come to Canada.
– Carpool or High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
To reduce traffic, high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are being used in Canada and some U.S. states, but they only apply to vehicles with more than one person. You can’t use the HOV lane if you have just a passenger or a child without an adult.
You can use your U.S driving license to drive in Canada as long as it is valid and meets all your requirements to receive a Canadian license. However, this is not an easy process and might require more time and effort.
To find out if your U.S Driver’s License is eligible for exchange, you can compare your current license to the list of licenses accepted in Canada.
The road rules in Canada are similar to those in the United States. The most important rule to remember is that you must obey all traffic signs and signals.