Are International Students Allowed To Drive In Canada?

Are International Students Allowed To Drive In Canada?

The simple One words answer is YES!

All foreign students are allowed to drive within any Canadian state as long as they have a valid license. But remember, the rules and regulations are highly different, as well as the legal requirements. Besides the state rules, a student’s driving history is also taken under consideration while granting a license. 

Now the next question is, what are the legal options the international students have in order to drive within Canadian states. Every student has three options which we are going to review. First, the student must get a valid and legal Canadian driving license, as soon as possible, which must be granted officially by the government. Secondly, relate to your specific territory’s laws and get your license exchanged. Thirdly, the student should try getting their International Driving Permit (IDP) before arriving in Canada.


If you are studying in Ontario, you can use your foreign driver’s license for up to 60 days. Don’t forget to check with the officials of Ontario for legal details.

British Columbia and Quebec

Surprisingly, full-time international students in Canada, living in British Columbia or Quebec, wouldn’t be needing any legal permit for driving but must have a verified permit from their native country. Means, no test, and no license exchange! Being a part-time foreign student, you must get a British Columbia/Quebec permit for under 90 days, counting from the day of your arrival.


All international students, irrespective of their countries, are allowed to drive in Alberta on the basis of their foreign drivers’ license or permit and an IDP. This offer remains for a year, only. On the completion of one 1year, you must get your Alberta license.

Get your driving license

It is highly necessitated because this is an easier and feasible way to get legal permission for driving in Canada. Depending on the vehicles, road laws, and experience Canada has multiple licenses. If you have a G license, you are allowed to drive a car, minivan, and even a small pick-up truck. 

If the student is a beginner or has not ever driven a car before, he/she is obliged to take the driving test. A full license will not be granted until and unless you have gained driving experience. It is advised to get acquainted with the road rules and regulations that are practiced in Canada before taking the test. You can enroll yourself in a driver-training program for detailed guidance, as well. You will only be able to pass the knowledge test if you are well familiar with the driving laws.

Well, in case of having a driving experience, you don’t have to take the official driving test. All you need is to show your legal foreign driver’s license to self-declare your experience. It will give you only one 1year of credit, but if you need to earn more, ask the foreign (your native country’s) driving agency or government officials to provide you an official letter assuring that your claim is valid and your license is original. It has to be either in English or French.

Exchange the driving license

Are you an experienced driver and do not want to give the driving test, again? This is your alternate way. 

To be eligible for a driver’s license exchange, international students must pass an eye test, and should possess a verified driving license. Other requirements include authentic proof of your identity and native/previous address. The additional knowledge test is only taken when you have a driving experience of fewer than 2 years.

One important thing you must take into account is the state where you are studying and the state from where you have your permitted license because every city allows exchanging license policy with certain countries. For instance, Ontario accepts the foreign license and exchanges it, if you are from Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, or Taiwan.

Apply for an International Driver's Permit (IDP)

The safest way for an international student in Canada is to get your permit which stays valid up to 1year, but it can be renewed. This legal document, also known as the International Drivers License, approves your application to drive in Canada. Its rules and regulations apply to changes depending on the province. So, if you are intended to change the state within Canada over time, you will need to accept the changes. In short, it is a translation of your foreign valid driving license.

In Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) is responsible for granting IDPs. For registration, international students need to pay C$15. Moreover, to start the process, you must be 18 years old and have a valid Canadian home address. 

Never apply for IDP if you are within Canadian territory. Always remember, the IDPs granted inside Canada are not effective within Canadian land.

Take Away Points

Take strict notice of your state-specific road laws and driving rules. All driving legal issues are resolved on the provincial level so you should only be following the regulations of the provinces in which you have decided to study.

Canada has high-grade Driving Under the Influence (DUI) strictness and criminal charges are implied if you are caught driving while drinking or after the consumption of alcohol and marijuana. It can put your student visa at risk, as well.

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