Can International Students Drive in Canada?

Published on: September 25th, 2023
Last updated: September 29th, 2023

Yes! Most people who come to Canada as international students are eligible to drive in Canada. But, it depends on the province where you’re studying and your driving history in your previous country of residence. In this article, we break down all the essential info on how to drive in Canada as an international student.

Free Assessment

How to get Driving License in Canada as an International Student?

Driving in Canada is regulated at the provincial level. That means that each province and territory establishes its own rules and policies for driving. Therefore, the exact rules for international students who want to drive in Canada will depend on the province where you are studying.

Generally, if you have a valid licence from your home country, you will be allowed to drive in Canada for a limited time when you first arrive. Though, it is often required that foreign drivers obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before arriving in Canada. In certain provinces, international students are eligible to drive using a foreign licence for the duration of their studies, while other provinces require international students to apply for a licence provincially.

Here are the international student driving regulations for some of Canada’s most popular destinations for college and university:


International students in Alberta are ineligible to obtain a driver’s license due to their non-permanent residency status in the province. Nevertheless, they may maintain the validity of their driver’s license from their home province or country if they fall into one of the following categories:

  • Enrolled in an accredited educational institution for studies in Alberta.
  • Or working as part of a co-op program of study.

British Columbia

Full-time international students do not require a BC licence, but need a valid licence from their home country and it is strongly recommended to have an IDP for licences not in English or French. Part-time international students will need to obtain a BC licence within 90 days of moving to the province.


In Ontario, new residents with valid foreign licences are authorized to drive for 60 days after first arriving in Ontario. After the 60-day grace period has elapsed, international drivers in Ontario must exchange their licence for an Ontario licence, or apply for a new licence. Ontario has a licence exchange program with certain countries in order to make the process more efficient.


International students and international trainees do not require a Quebec licence for the duration of their program, but they need a licence from their home country it is recommended to have an IDP for licences not in English or French.

In all cases, international drivers must be aware of and follow all Canadian driving laws.

Driving in Canada: International Driving Permit

The International Driving Permit (IDP) is a document that allows drivers from one country to drive in other countries. The IDP grants the authorization to operate a motor vehicle in Canada for a limited period of time that varies by province.

Notably, foreign nationals cannot apply for an IDP from within Canada. You must apply from your home country. The IDP will provide an English/French translation for foreign drivers coming to Canada.

Please consult the provincial and territorial driving regulations of the places you intend to drive to ensure that your IDP will cover you. As indicated above, it may be necessary to obtain licencing from the province in which you choose to reside.

Driving in Canada as an International Student: Rules & Regulations

All foreign nationals who drive in Canada must ensure they familiarize themselves with Canadian driving laws, rules, and regulations. These rules are determined on a provincial basis, so you must consult the guidelines of the provinces in which you intend to drive.

Generally, Canadian driving regulations stipulate that all vehicles must be properly registered and have valid insurance. Failure to produce licence, registration, and proof of insurance can result in a hefty fine and other penalties.

As well, Canada has very strict regulations regarding the consumption of alcohol and marijuana and the operation of motor vehicles. The exact rules vary province to province. Any person found be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face criminal charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) which can jeopardize immigration applications, causing a person to be deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada, so international drivers should be cautious about drinking, drugs, and driving.


If you are interested in coming to Canada as an international student, simply complete our free international student assessment! A member of our team will review your eligibility and contact you to discuss your options.

Get Started

Recent articles

Living in Canada

Best Places to Live in Canada – New Comers Guide

Canada’s diverse landscape and vibrant cities make it an enticing destination for newcomers seeking a fresh start. From the bustling metropolis of Toronto, Ontario, to […]

International Students

What is a Co-op Program in Canada – International Students

With its exceptional education system and a blend of diverse cultures, Canada is increasingly attracting international students seeking to enhance their academic and life experiences.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Caregiver Visa Canada

Caregivers aspiring to make Canada their new home now have two dedicated immigration programs tailored to their needs.

International Students

Provincial Nominee Programs for International Students in 2024

If you are an international student who has graduated from a program in Canada and would like to apply for Permanent Residency, you are probably […]


What to Do After PGWP Expires? – 5 Ways to Stay in Canada

Some international graduates who are not currently eligible to extend their status may feel limited in their options to remain in Canada after their Post […]

Living in Canada

Living in Vancouver: City Charms and Challenges

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Mountains, Vancouver stands as a city that effortlessly marries urban sophistication with the raw beauty of nature. […]

Free assessment

Discover your Canadian immigration options. Get your free assessment now!