April 19, 2024

Are International Students Allowed to Drive in Canada?

Absolutely! The eligibility of international students to drive in Canada varies based on the province of study and their driving record from their previous country of residence. In this article, we provide a comprehensive guide on driving in Canada as an international student, covering all the essential information you need to know.

Securing a Driver's License in Canada as an International Student

Obtaining a driving license in Canada as an international student varies by province due to the decentralized nature of driving regulations, with each province and territory setting its own rules and policies. Therefore, the specific procedures for international students wishing to drive in Canada will depend on the province where they are studying.

Typically, possessing a valid license from your home country permits you to drive in Canada temporarily upon arrival; however, obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP) before entering Canada is often necessary. While some provinces allow international students to drive with their foreign license throughout their studies, others mandate that students apply for a provincial license.

Below are the driving regulations for international students in some of Canada's most popular destinations for college and university:


International students in Alberta cannot obtain a driver’s license due to their non-permanent residency status in the province. However, they can maintain the validity of their driver’s license from their home province or country if they are enrolled in an accredited educational institution for studies in Alberta or are participating in a co-op program of study.

British Columbia:

Full-time international students do not need a BC license but must possess a valid license from their home country; it's strongly advised to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) for licenses not in English or French. Part-time international students must obtain a BC license within 90 days of moving to the province.


New residents in Ontario with valid foreign licenses can drive for 60 days after their initial arrival. After this grace period, international drivers must exchange their license for an Ontario license or apply for a new one. Ontario facilitates this process through a license exchange program with select countries to streamline the process.


International students and trainees in Quebec do not need a Quebec license for the duration of their program, but they must possess a license from their home country. It is recommended to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) for licenses not in English or French.

Regardless, all international drivers must adhere to Canadian driving laws.

Driving in Canada: International Driving Permit

The International Driving Permit (IDP) is a credential enabling drivers from one country to operate vehicles in other countries. In Canada, the IDP provides temporary authorization to drive, with the duration varying by province.

It's important to note that foreign nationals cannot apply for an IDP from within Canada; applications must be made from their home country. The IDP offers English/French translations for foreign drivers arriving in Canada.

Please consult the provincial and territorial driving regulations of the areas where you plan to drive to ensure that your IDP will provide adequate coverage. As mentioned earlier, it might be necessary to obtain licensing from the province where you intend to reside.

Navigating Driving in Canada as an International Student: Understanding the Rules & Regulations

Driving in Canada as an international student requires a thorough understanding of Canadian driving laws, rules, and regulations, which vary from province to province. It's crucial to familiarize yourself with the guidelines specific to the provinces where you plan to drive.

Canadian driving regulations generally require all vehicles to be correctly registered and possess valid insurance. Failure to provide a license, registration, and proof of insurance can lead to substantial fines and other penalties.

Additionally, Canada maintains stringent regulations concerning the consumption of alcohol and marijuana in relation to operating motor vehicles, with specific rules varying from province to province. Individuals caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may face criminal charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), posing a risk to immigration applications and potentially resulting in being deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada. Therefore, international drivers should exercise caution regarding alcohol, drugs, and driving.

Seamless Transition: Navigating International Student Life in Canada with Pelican Migration Consultants

As you embark on your journey as an international student in Canada, navigating the rules and regulations of driving can be complex. Pelican Migration Consultants is here to assist you not only in understanding these regulations but also in obtaining a student visa from the UAE. Our dedicated team can guide you through the visa application process, ensuring a smooth transition to studying in Canada. With our expertise and personalized assistance, you can focus on your academic pursuits while we handle the logistics of your immigration process. Reach out to us today to begin your exciting adventure in Canada!

If you're considering studying in Canada as an international student, take the first step by completing our free international student assessment! Our team will assess your eligibility and reach out to discuss your options.