Driving in Canada FAQs | Tripmasters (2024)


Is Driving in Canada left or right?

Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road and pass on the left. When on a double-lane highway, the same rules apply with slower traffic sticking to the right-hand lane and faster traffic passing on the left.

Can you drive in Canada with a US license?

US licenses are valid in Canada. When operating a car in Canada, you’ll need to have your license, auto insurance, and registration in the vehicle at all times.

What is the age limit to drive in Canada?

The minimum age limit to drive in Canada is 16, although you must be at least 20 years old to rent a car. Drivers under the age of 25 will have to pay a young drivers fee.

What are Travel Advice and Advisories?

Travel Advice and Advisories give you official Government of Canada information and advice on situations that may affect your safety and well-being when you are traveling or living outside Canada. They may include an advisory for a country or region where security or health conditions have changed.

What are the major road types in Canada?

Local roads:
These roads provide access to private property. They are usually found in either the suburbs or the rural parts of Canada. They are known for having low traffic speed and for requiring at least one sidewalk.

Collector roads:
These are made to connect traffic to larger arteries. Collector roads are usually signaled at intersections with arterial roads and require sidewalks on both sides of the road.

Minor arterial roads:
Minor arterial roads are mainly designed to facilitate the movement of traffic. They also sometimes provide access to certain types of property. There are no stop signs on these roads, but they do have traffic lights at intersections. They also require sidewalks on both sides of the road.

Major arterial roads:
These are mainly designed for traffic movement but they’re also subject to access controls, which means you’ll have to wait before entering the flow. Usually, these have sidewalks on both sides of the road.

These are the same as American highways. They don’t provide property access and are off-limits to pedestrians and cyclists.

How Different are the Laws Between Provinces?

Canadian provinces are similar to US states in that each one has a few driving laws that are unique to their own province. For example, the legal driving age in Canada varies between provinces. This can be a headache for tourists who are looking to drive across Canada without having to memorize a bunch of different laws for each one. However, there are only a few laws that are specific to each province that you’ll need to watch out if you’re a US citizen driving in Canada.

British Columbia

British Columbia has a couple of laws that are a little oddball, but they are enforced nonetheless. When going downhill, it’s illegal to put your vehicle in neutral. While some drivers do this in order to save a little bit of gas mileage, it is outlawed in British Columbia. The Motor Vehicle Act states that when you are traveling downgrade, you can’t coast with the vehicle gears in neutral or the clutch disengaged.

Another interesting law in British Columbia imposes a $167 fine on anyone who blocks the left lane. The law states that if you’re in the left lane and another vehicle approaches in that lane, you must exit the lane if it’s safe to do so. Drivers who violate this law are subject not only to the fine but also up to three demerit points.


On the island of Montreal, you are not allowed to turn right when the light is red, while this is legal in other provinces such as Quebec, Montreal specifically outlaws this. There are some intersections in other provinces that disallow a right on red, but a sign prohibiting it will mark these.


In Ontario, any driver who is overspeeding at 50 km/h above the speed limit may have their car confiscated, towed, and impounded for up to 7 days. While most people may not ever speed at quite an extreme rate, it can be tricky near highway construction zones where the speed limit temporarily dips. Be cautious and abide by the posted speed limit or you may find yourself without a car.


Alberta is known to have many inconspicuous photo radar units that are constantly monitoring speed on the highway. Very often a police unit will be monitoring from car parked on the side of the highway, but they also monitor speed while driving. Because radar detectors are illegal in a lot of provinces, you should avoid speeding to keep from getting an expensive ticket.


Quebec has one quirky little law that will add two demerit points to your driving record if you’re found violating it. Under Quebec’s laws and regulations, you are not allowed to break suddenly without any cause. While this may seem like an unnecessary law, it’s important to drive as steadily as possible to avoid getting ticketed.

Driving in Canada FAQs | Tripmasters (2024)


What do I need to know about driving in Canada? ›

General driving rules, laws and regulations in Canada;
  1. Vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road.
  2. Pass others on the left hand side of the road.
  3. Always give way to pedestrians on pedestrian crossings.
  4. All occupants in a vehicle must wear a seat belt.

Is it difficult to pass driving test in Canada? ›

Getting a driving license in Canada can be tough and the process to get there can often be frustrating. It involves both written driving test questions and a road test. Still, a driving license is worth it in the end, especially in Canada. With a driving license, you can get around quickly and efficiently.

Is it hard for an American to drive in Canada? ›

For the most part, driving in Canada is very similar to driving in the United States, but there are some slight differences in the laws and provincial rules of the road that vary between the countries—especially in that speed is measured in kilometers (not mile) per hour and that there are no right-hand turns on red ...

Is my US driver's license valid in Canada? ›

When visiting another country as a U.S. citizen: Your state driver's license is valid while driving in Canada and Mexico. In other countries, you may need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) for foreign drivers.

What questions do they ask when driving into Canada? ›

At the border, you'll need to present your passport or other travel documents. You may also be asked about your travel plans, the purpose of your visit, and the length of your stay. Not all Ports of Entry are the same.

How do I prepare to drive to Canada? ›

Travel Tips for Crossing the Canadian/U.S. Land Border
  1. Know before you go. ...
  2. Have the right type of travel insurance. ...
  3. Use the Travel Smart app. ...
  4. Check Current Border Wait Times website. ...
  5. Calculate Duty & Taxes with an Estimator. ...
  6. Use the Canborder apps. ...
  7. Get the latest Travel Advice & Advisories for Canadians.

Which country is the hardest to pass driving test? ›

China, Hungary and Montenegro are the hardest countries to pass your driving test. On balance, these countries have tough theory tests and require more practical experience before being able to sit a practical test.

What is an instant fail on a driving test in Canada? ›

This includes aggressive driving, running red lights or stop signs, improper lane changes or failure to yield the right of way. Endangering a pedestrian or another driver. Being involved in a collision or nearly causing one during the test will result in an automatic failure.

How long does it take to learn driving in Canada? ›

ICBC-approved driver training courses

It focuses on safe driving skills, preparing for road tests, and developing a responsible attitude behind the wheel. ICBC-approved courses include: at least 16 hours of in-class instruction. at least 12 hours instruction on the road.

Can I turn right on red in Canada? ›

Turning right at a red light is allowed:

In Canada and the United States except in New York City and on the island of Montréal, and where prohibited by a traffic sign.

What is the speed limit in Canada? ›

In 2022, the government permanently increased the speed limit on six sections of provincial highways in southern Ontario as well as two sections in northern Ontario on a two-year trial basis. The permanent increase in speed from 100km/h to 110km/h will cover 36 per cent and 860 kilometres of Ontario's highway network.

Is it illegal to honk your horn in Canada? ›

In Canada, honking is generally prohibited except when you're using it to warn others of imminent danger.

Does US car insurance work in Canada? ›

An American car insurance policy works the same way in Canada as it does in the U.S. Your comprehensive car insurance coverage and auto collision coverage, for example, still apply to damage to your vehicle if you're in an accident while driving in Canada.

Can I rent a car in Canada with US license? ›

Foreigners can rent a car in Canada as long as their valid driver's license is in English or French or have an international license valid for 90 days and the license is valid for the type of vehicle considered for hire. Their home country driver's license is valid, unexpired, and includes a photograph.

Does a US citizen need a passport to go to Canada? ›

Entry into Canada: Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry proof of citizenship and identity. A valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card satisfies these requirements for U.S. citizens. Children under 16 only need proof of U.S. citizenship.

Is driving in Canada the same as the US? ›

Driving basics in Canada

Unlike other countries which used to be under British rule or part of Commonwealth, vehicles in Canada drive on the right side of the road. Canada has a metric system – kilometers & meters compared to its southern neighbor the USA, where they use the imperial system (miles and yards).

What to do when driving from US to Canada? ›

If you're arriving by land, follow the signs to the first checkpoint, also called “primary inspection.” Here, a border services officer will examine your identification and other travel documents and take your verbal declaration. Visit U.S. to Canada border wait times for estimated wait times at certain locations.

Can I rent a car in Canada with a US license? ›

Foreigners can rent a car in Canada as long as their valid driver's license is in English or French or have an international license valid for 90 days and the license is valid for the type of vehicle considered for hire. Their home country driver's license is valid, unexpired, and includes a photograph.

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