How International Students Can Get a Driving License in Canada?

How International Students Can Get a Driving License in Canada?

Manmeet Kaur Manmeet Kaur
[Published 21 May, 2024 | 04:59 PM]
About Author - 6 min read

Are you planning to study in Canada and confused if you can drive there or not?

Canada allows international students to drive a car in Canada if they have a driver’s license issued by the government of their province or territory. In certain provinces, students are eligible to drive using a foreign driving license for the duration of their study program, while in others they are required to apply for a license provincially. 

Find out more in this blog.

Getting a driving licence as an international student

Obtaining a Driving License in Canada as an International Student

If you have a valid driving license in your home country, you can drive in Canada - but only for a short period when you first arrive.

If you plan on using a foreign driver in Canada, you must obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in your home country. This permit will give you a translation of your license into French and English.

IDP or International Driving Permit: It is a document that enables drivers from a country to drive in other countries. This permit authorizes you to operate a motor vehicle in Canada for a limited time depending on the province. International students cannot apply for an IDP from within Canada but home country only. The IDP will provide an English/French translation for foreign drivers coming to Canada.

Driving regulations in the most popular provinces in Canada

  • Alberta

Alberta does not allow international students to get a driver’s license due to their non-permanent residency status. That said, you can maintain the validity of your driver’s license from your home country if you fall under one of the following circumstances:

  • Enrolled in an educational institution in Alberta.
  • Working as part of a co-op program of study.
  • British Columbia
If you are enrolled in an educational institution in British Columbia as a full-time international student, you do not need a license. But you will need a license from your home country. Also, you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) for a license not in English or French. As for the part-time foreign students, they need to obtain a license within 90 days of moving to BC.

  • Ontario

Foreign students in Ontario can drive with a valid license from their home country. Using this, they can drive for 60 days after they first arrive in the province. Once the 60 days ends, students must exchange their license for an Ontario license or apply for a new one. The province has a license exchange program with certain countries to make the process more efficient.

  • Quebec

International students and trainees who get enrolled at a Quebec university or college do not need a license for the duration of their program. That said, they need a license from their home country. They are advised to have an IDP for licenses not in English or French.

Obtaining a Driving License in Canada as an International Student

Driving Rules & Regulations in Canada

Driving laws are strictly enforced in Canada. If you break the law, penalties are severe. Your vehicle must be properly registered and have valid insurance. If you fail to get a license, registration, and proof of insurance, you will have to pay heavy fines.

Canada is also extremely stringent when it comes to the consumption of alcohol and marijuana and the operation of motor vehicles. If you are found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face criminal charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). This can risk your studying and immigration, causing you to be deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada

Every province or territory has its own driving rules. International students must take their time learning the laws to be allowed to drive in the province they are studying. To get the complete list of laws and rules about driving, secure a copy of the driving guide issued by the department that regulates cars and driving in your province or territory.

Car Insurance in Canada

You cannot drive in Canada without car insurance – it is illegal to do so. If you own a car, getting an insurance coverage is a must. If you drive a car regularly that belongs to a friend or relative, make sure you are listed on their car insurance plan.

Difference types of car insurance plans are available, which include coverage for either or both:

  • injuries to yourself and damage to your car or
  • the costs of damages and injury to others if you’re at fault in an accident
The cost of car insurance depends on the plan you choose and your age, driving history, place of residence, and driving experience. The cost can vary depending on the insurance company.

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Buying or leasing a Car in Canada

Foreign students who need a car for a short time can connect with a car rental agency or someone who is selling their car – with car insurance included in your agreement.

If you do not wish to buy a car, you can lease it from a car dealer. This is a legal agreement between you and the dealer in which you agree to pay the fee to use the car for a particular time and return the car to the dealer in good condition when the time is up. Read the terms and conditions of the lease before you sign it.

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Need Help?

If you wish to pursue higher education in Canada, apply for a study visa from India with Nationwide Visas, one of the best immigration consultants in India. They have 17 years of experience in successfully assisting thousands of Indians to achieve their dream of studying and settling abroad.

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Read More: A Guide to International Student Accommodation in Canada


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