International Driving Permit Canada

What is an International Driving Permit or License?

What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving License (IDL)?

An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is accepted by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.

On the other hand, an International Driving License is not legally accepted and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries.

How does an IDP work in Canada?

An IDP is valid for 12 months in Canada. You can use an IDP while your foreign driver’s license remains valid. You may also use your IDP as an identification document while traveling. If your driver’s license is in a foreign language, an IDP can be used as a translation of your license.

How do you apply for an IDP in Canada?

You can apply through our website. 

How long does it take to get an IDP in Canada?

You can receive a printed IDP to your doorstep in 2 to 30 days. The estimated delivery time will depend on your selected delivery method. 

Alternately, you can acquire a digital IDP, which takes up to 2 hours or as little as 20 minutes to land in your inbox if you choose an Express Order.

United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic

There have been three international motor traffic conventions. 1926 in Paris, 1949 in Geneva, and 1968 in Vienna. Most countries have agreed to honor the International Driving Permit as a valid document.

Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Canada

Functionality as an ID

An IDP is a helpful travel document as it can be used as another form of identification. Many people would use their IDP as ID rather than their passport to avoid their passport getting lost or stolen. An IDP can also be used instead of a national ID card, specifically, if your national ID card is not in the language of the country you are traveling to. 

Quicker traffic authority stops

Traffic police may have trouble deciphering driver information on your license during a traffic stop. Having an IDP ensures that policemen can quickly note down your details and send you on your way. This is especially useful during emergencies and motor accidents.

Car rental companies

Companies in other countries may be reluctant to lease automobiles to foreigners without an International Driving Permit. An IDP is a legal document recognized by the United Nations, and therefore it is accepted as a legitimate driving permit by most international and local car rental firms. 

Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Canada

Short-term visitors vs. residents

Short-term visitors will find using their original license with an IDP beneficial. Long-term visitors will find it helpful to get a Canadian driving license. 

How long can I drive with a foreign license?

You may drive for an entire year if you are an international driver with an IDP and a valid foreign license before renewing your documents.

When should I get a Canadian Driver’s License?

Canada was contracted to the Geneva Convention on Motor Traffic in 1949. You can use an IDP for a maximum of 12 months before being required to either renew your IDP or get a domestic Canadian driving license. You may want to get a Canadian driving license when you move to Canada mid to long-term. The hassle during routine traffic stops and the extra bureaucracy when renewing your original license might not be worth hanging onto your country’s driving license.

How to get a Canadian driver’s license

Every province has a different procedure and fee for getting a driver’s license, and we can only provide information on the standard practices of these provinces. You will need to complete the following to get a Canadian driver’s license:

  • Pass a vision test

  • Provide proof of a valid driver’s license (it needs to be officially translated to English or French)

  • Provide proof of identity (passport will do)

  • Provide proof of address (a water, electricity bill, or property contract)

  • Pass a knowledge test if the applicant has been driving for less than two years

Applicants from states with a reciprocal arrangement with Canada for quick license exchanges need only provide a valid driving license from the relevant country and a fee.

Austria, Australia, France, Germany, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States. The payable fee varies according to the province or territory. Depending on where you applied, you will have a Canadian provincial driver’s license or a Canadian territorial driver’s license. 

Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Canada

Renewing your International Driver’s Permit

You can renew your IDP through our website. 

Renewing your original driver’s license

Since an IDP is not a stand-alone document, you must have a valid driving license to display if asked. Suppose your license expires overseas; you must renew it to continue driving in that nation. The process for renewing a license varies significantly by country. License renewal may involve a vision exam that cannot be completed online, requiring you to return to your home country to renew your license.

Car Rental in Canada

Requirements for car rental

Renting a car in Canada is relatively simple if you are a tourist. You must provide the rental company with a valid driver’s license from your country of origin. You will be asked to provide an IDP if your license is not in English or French. As additional identification, you may be asked to present your passport.

If you are on a Working Holiday Permit or extended stay in Canada, you might be required to get a valid Canadian driver’s license. The exact details of the procedure depend on which province or territory of Canada you are in.

Canada’s leading international car rental agencies are Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Globe Car and Truck Rentals, Enterprise, Alamo, National, Avis, Discount, and Budget. You will be required to pay with either a credit or debit card.

Deposit and costs for car rental

Car rental companies will charge you depending on the rental duration, type of car, driver’s age, whether you will pay for the fuel yourself, and whether you need additional devices such as GPS.

There are three fueling options. You can use up the fuel in the vehicle and pay a service charge for the used fuel. You can pay for the full tank of fuel and use it as much as possible or fill up the fuel tank before returning the vehicle.

A ‘young driver’s fee’ may be charged in some provinces if you are less than 25, 21, or 18 years of age. You can compare the cost of various car rental companies using deal aggregating websites such as Expedia, Argus Car Hire, Travel Supermarket, Holiday Auto, Canadian Affair, and Canada Rental Car.

Car insurance

If you use your car with international insurance, you can use that for Canada. Like most other countries, Canada requires you to have a minimum third-party insurance cover for expenses incurred due to damage to people or property. You may opt to get a full cover to ensure your vacation or workcation doesn’t have an unpleasant surprise in the middle of it.

Travel Insurance

While the crime rate in Canada is extremely low, it is essential to have travel and car insurance. The following are some things to keep in mind while purchasing travel insurance:

  • Unlimited medical expenses that cover hospital stays

  • Coverage of cancellation fees for flights and accommodation

  • Coverage for damaged and lost baggage while traveling

  • Rental car excess in an accident

  • Dental insurance for emergencies

  • Funeral costs in case of an extreme situation

Driving and Safety in Canada

Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?

You can get a driving handbook to review Canada’s driving laws by visiting a website of the province you are traveling within.

Overtaking on Canadian roads

You are advised to only overtake from the left-hand side as long as there have been no signs signifying otherwise. You must check your mirrors, judge the speed correctly and make sure that the lane ahead is sufficiently clear for you to enter back into its traffic. You cannot cut in on the vehicle that you are overtaking. Overtaking during nighttime or with poor visibility should be undertaken with extra vigilance.

Turning and right of way on Canadian roads

When approaching an intersection without signs or lights, you should yield the right-of-way to a vehicle approaching the intersection before you. If you arrive simultaneously, the vehicle approaching you from the right has the right-of-way.

When approaching a roundabout, you should yield to vehicles already moving around the roundabout. In this instance, vehicles to your right have the right of way. Right-hand turns are allowed at a red light unless specified by a sign.

Speed limits on Canadian roads

Each province sets its speed limits. Urban roads have a speed limit of 40 km/h to 50 km/h, depending on the region or territory. Undivided rural roads have speed limits of 50 km/h to 90 km/h. Divided rural highways have a speed limit of 80 km/h to 100 km/h. Urban freeways have a speed limit of 50 km/h to 100 km/h. Rural freeways have a speed limit of 80 km/h to 100 km/h.

Tips for driving in Canada

  • All drivers should wear seat belts

  • Mobile phone use is not allowed unless a hands-free device is used

  • Driving is not permitted on private property unless permission is granted

  • Drivers must stop and proceed with caution when approaching a stopped school bus

  • Winter driving must be done with caution and with the proper equipment

Drinking and driving

Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense. The specific punitive measures taken vary by province and territory. It is considered impaired driving if you have 80mg of alcohol for 100ml of blood. There is a mandatory fine of C$1,000.00 and a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. If you refuse to comply with a testing request, it is a mandatory C$2,000 fine. If drunk driving results in a death, you can be imprisoned for life.

Top 3 Destinations to Visit in Canada


You can’t go wrong with Vancouver for a fun-filled trip with plenty of beauty for you to soak in. Vancouver is on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and has a snow-capped mountain backdrop. The locals of this city are outgoing and maintain outdoor activities throughout the year. The beaches are perfect for the summer, while the snow-capped mountains provide multiple winter sports activities. Make sure you stroll through Stanley Park and enjoy its massive and stately trees on your ventures. You will also be able to find fine dining restaurants and plenty of shopping access in this idyllic city.

Niagara Falls

Perhaps one of the most majestic of nature’s natural attractions, Niagara Falls is a great wall of water that pounds down from a high cliff. The placement of the falls allows visitors to view the complete spectacle while enjoying the surrounding area’s numerous eateries and tourist shops. The Niagara Parks Commission will let visitors visit the 115-year-old Canadian Niagara Power Company generating station. You may be able to see some Niagara Falls stuntmen push the boundaries of human capacity and their mortality by doing tricks in the falls.


While Ottawa is Canada’s political capital, Toronto is Canada’s economic and cultural capital. It is a melting pot for all of the world’s cultures, as Toronto’s generous immigration policies have drawn in talented and creative professionals and refugees. You can indulge your eyes and ears with ballet, opera, symphony, and Broadway shows. There is also no shortage of budget and luxury shopping, fine dining, well-endowed museums, and a wide variety of street entertainment. The Toronto waterfront has scenic walkways, restaurants, and outdoor concerts, giving it a festive atmosphere. Be sure to visit its landmark, the CN Tower, if you’re in the city.


Am I required to have an IDP for Canada?

It is highly recommended, as many countries require you to have your original license and an IDP. 

Can I drive using a foreign license in Canada?

You may use an International Driving Permit for 12 months if your foreign license is valid.

How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in Canada?

Since Canada was contracted to the Geneva Motor Traffic Convention in 1949, you may use your IDP for 12 months.

How long will transferring my license to a Canadian license take?

You may get it within the day if you physically apply at a local CAA Club, and it may take over two days to be mailed to you.

On which side do you drive in Canada?

You must drive on the right side of the road in Canada. 

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