Can You Drive in Canada with US license?

Are you thinking of visiting Canada or even planning to move there to study or work? One of the things you’ll want to know is the requirements for driving a car here and whether you need a license. So, can you drive with a US license in Canada?

Yes, you can drive in Canada with your US driving license as long as you also have proof of car insurance. However, this is only for a short time which is between 60 to 90 days. After that, you’ll need to get a license. You also need to understand the driving rules in Canada, among other things.

Although people from the US can drive in Canada with their license, those coming from other countries will need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) and get insurance in Canada to drive a car. The IDP especially applies when visiting from a country whose official language isn’t French or English. That said, this article discusses all you should know about driving a car as a visitor in Canada.

What Do You Need to Drive a Car in Canada?

If you’re visiting Canada from the US, you don’t need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) or obtain a driving license in Canada to drive. Your US driver’s license and proof of auto insurance are all you need to rent a car and drive here. Age limit is also a requirement as you have to be at least 16 years before driving. But this shouldn’t be a problem since most countries, including the US, don’t issue a driving license until 16.

However, you can only use this for a short period, which varies among provinces and territories. At most, you’ll get a maximum of 90 days of driving before you’ll need to get a Canadian driver’s license. For example, in Ontario, the maximum is 60 days, while in British Columbia, it’s 90 days.

Road Rules in Canada

Driving rules aren’t the same all over Canada. Each province and territory had its own peculiar driving rules. For instance, in Montreal, right-hand turns aren’t allowed on red light turns even though one can do this in other parts of Quebec.

Beyond that, the basic rules of driving are similar all over Canada, and there are only slight differences with what is acceptable in the United States. So here are the particular rules you should be aware of.

1.   Speed Limits

Canada uses the metric system for its measurement, which means speed limits here are In Kilometers per hour instead of Miles per hour. Most highways have a limit of 100km/h, and within cities, it’s 50km/h.

2.   Road Signs

French and English are commonly spoken in Canada. Depending on which province you visit, signs might contain any or both of these languages. However, speaking French can be very beneficial, especially in Quebec, where French is mostly spoken.

3.   Seats

Seatbelts are compulsory when driving in Canada regardless of age. Anyone old enough to sit in a car must seat belt. Children under the age of 9 or shorter than 145cm must use car seats.

4.   Smoking

Although smoking isn’t outlawed in cars, most provinces make it illegal to smoke in a car when a minor is present. The rule applies in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Yukon Territory, Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia.

5.   Mobile Phone Use

Drivers can use their phones when driving, but they must be hands-free. But unless you’re picking a call or making one, there’s no reason to use your cell phone while driving.

6.   Carpool or High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes

In order to reduce traffic, especially in urban areas, some provinces have carpool or HOV lanes. This lane is reserved for cars with at least two people in them.  Some signs designate these lanes, and it’s illegal to use them unless you are up to two in your car.

7.   Toll Road

There aren’t many toll roads in Canada, but there are few bridges, especially when driving from the United States, where you’ll have to pay toll fees. 407 Electronic Toll Road (ETR) road in Toronto is another place to pay toll fees. The system here is electronic as it only takes a picture of your license and sends you the bill later or add it to your car rental bill.

8.   Alcohol

It’s a serious offence to drive under the influence in Canada and could resort to arrest car impound or driving suspension. As a visitor, this might affect your ability to enter the country another time or even shorten your present stay. The blood alcohol standard here is strict, and driving with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08% is a criminal offence. Territorial and provincial traffic acts could still apply even if you’re driving with a lower alcohol concentration. So, it’s better to completely avoid driving after drinking.

Driving in the Winter

One of the things worth noting when driving in Canada in the winter. Several parts of Canada have extreme winters, which you, as a resident of the US, might not be used to. So, if you’re planning to drive in Canada during the winter, be ready to take extra care. Heavy snow, white-out, snowstorm, and black ice are just a few of the conditions that could make driving in Canadian winter a challenge.

Thus, if you’re planning to go to Canada during the winter, and you’ll be driving, ensure you prepare yourself for the trip. The road you’re driving could also matter. For example, if you’re driving in the remote or mountainous parts, you should most sure the vehicle you’re using has the best tires for traction.

In Conclusion

Canada is a fun place to be, and if you’re planning a road trip there, there’s a lot to enjoy along the way. Whether you’re driving your car or renting a car in Canada, you’ll be able to use your US license to drive in Canada. However, there are still certain rules peculiar to the country which you have to abide by when driving there.

Thais R

I moved to Canada in 2016. This was the best decision that I ever made. I created this website to share what I’ve learned with anyone who’s thinking of moving or travelling to Canada.

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