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Canada Driving Rules and Tips

If you’re planning on a road trip in Canada, either by your own vehicle or a rented car, the overview below will help you be safe on the road, as well as avoid unnecessary complications and fines.


To drive in Canada, you’ll need a driver’s license issued from your own country. Depending on how long you stay, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP, a translation of your license into 10 languages). Requirements vary by province; for instance, in Alberta, you can drive with another country’s license for up to 12 months as a visitor, while in Ontario, you will need an IDP if you plan on visiting more than 3 months. You will also need proof of insurance; call your insurance company to make sure you are covered in another country. If you are using a rented car, kindly check with your car rental company for specific details.

Age Restrictions

Generally, you must be at least 16 to drive in Canada. In some provinces, such as British Columbia, you must have a learner’s permit until you are 17, and even then, you can only have a novice driver’s license (a license with certain restrictions). Check the province you will be traveling in for specific age restrictions.

Driving Rules and Regulations

  • Drive on the right hand side of the road
  • Always obey road signs (some in French, especially in Quebec)
  • Overtake from left hand side of the road.
  • Everyone in the car must be wearing a seatbelt
  • Electronic devices like mobile phones should not be used
  • Pull over if emergency vehicle comes with its lights flashing
  • Always use indicator while turning
  • Is prohibited to carry radar detectors
  • Always carry license while driving
  • Give way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings

Speed Limits

The normal speed limits on Canadian roads are as follows:

  • 80 km/h (50 mph) on highways
  • 60 km/h (37 mph) on larger roads
  • 50 km/h (30 mph) in neighborhoods

Speeding tickets will cost anywhere from $25 up to $10,000, depending on the province or territory and how fast you were going. Speeding violations are generally double the normal fine in construction and school zones.

Drunk Driving

Drunk driving is taken seriously in Canada. You may not be allowed to enter if you have DUI conviction in your country. The legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08mg per 100ml; if you are found to have more than this level in your blood, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), even if you are just sitting in the driver’s seat, as the car is considered to be under your “care or control,” meaning your actions could lead to driving. For a first offense, you will be charged a minimum of $1,000, and you will likely not be allowed to drive in Canada. For a second offense, you could receive jail time or be banned from Canada.


If you are parking on the street, you should park in the direction the traffic is flowing. Some areas are marked “No Parking” so that snow trucks can clear roadways. Often, you will need to pay for parking or be fined. If you have a disability, you can likely obtain a temporary accessibility parking permit from the province you’re visiting.

The sections above are a general guideline to driving in Canada. However, as laws vary by province and territory, check out local laws before visiting.

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