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Car Rental & Driver's License in Canada

Updated: May 25th, 2023

Before you move to Canada, there are many things you will have to plan for. This includes accommodation, a job, and, if you have a family, schools, and activities for your children. However, perhaps one of the most important things to consider is how you’ll get from one place to another. Regarding your mode of transport, you’ll also have to think about where you will live. If it’s not based in the city with a fully-functional transport system, or for some reason, it is not practical for you to use public transport, how will you get around? You may find that renting a car in Canada is the best option. To be able to do this, you’ll need a driver’s license. So below is a breakdown of everything you need to know about car rentals and the requirements for driver’s licenses in Canada.

Rent a Car in Canada

Rent a car in Canada | Car Rental & Driver's License in Canada

When planning your move to Canada, you may find yourself asking, “Can I rent a car in Canada?”. The answer is yes! You’ll find many car rental companies that offer competitive rates for short-term rentals. If you are worried about how you’ll be able to do this, you can rest assured that the process is fairly simple if you meet all the requirements.

Requirements For Renting a Car in Canada

  • You must have a valid driver’s license and international driver’s permit (English or French)
  • The minimum car rental age in Canada is 21. Although, in Saskatchewan, it is 18
  • A daily surcharge will apply to renters between 21-24 years old. This is called a ‘Young Renter Fee’
  • Restrictions on the size and type of vehicles apply to renters between 21- 24 years old
  • You must have a minimum of 12 months driving experience
  • 21 to 24-year-olds are also restricted to specific car classes
  • You must have a credit card for your deposit
  • You must have car insurance for the rental car
  • You must show your passport and return airline ticket when picking up your car (if applicable)
  • Children weighing under 18 kg require a child seat with a seat belt, which must be fastened every time you drive. (some car rental companies can supply you with one if you give them notice. This comes at an additional charge.)

Top Car Rental Websites in Canada

Do your homework before you head to the Great White North so that you know more or less what your best Car Rental options are. Below are just some of the top car rental websites in Canada:

NOTE: It’s a good idea to check which car rental companies are popular in the province you plan to settle in.

Car Rental Fees and Taxes

The cost of renting a car in Canada will vary from province to province and according to the model and size of the car you choose. Rentals can range from around 30 CAD per day to nearly 100 CAD per day for bigger, fancier vehicles.

You may incur several fees and taxes when renting a car in Canada. Extra charges for a rental car include:

  • A one-way drop-off fee
  • Provincial Sales Tax (where applicable)
  • 5% of Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • A per kilometer charge (if not limited)
  • A fee for renters aged between 21-25 years old
  • A fee for an additional driver
  • A premium location fee

Check out the infographic below for an idea of what it will cost to rent a car in Canada in 2023, according to travel metasearch engine, Kayak.

Drivers License

As mentioned above, if you plan on driving in Canada, you will need a valid driver’s license and International Driver’s Permit (IDP). If you have a valid license that you’ve obtained in your home country, you may be granted permission to use this to drive in Canada for a short time after you arrive. You’ll need to find out about this from the government of your province or territory.

For example, if you choose to live in Ontario and have been driving for over two years elsewhere, you can drive in Canada with your foreign license, provided that you are from a specific list of countries, including the United States, Japan, Korea, Austria, France, Belgium, Great Britain, and Switzerland. If you are immigrating from any of these countries to Ontario, you can exchange your driver’s license for a Canadian license without having to take a road test. All you have to do, however, is to pass the vision and knowledge tests for the province you live in, in Canada.

For information about every province and territory and whether you can exchange your driver’s license, review the transportation department in your province or territory to learn more about driver’s licenses specific to where you want to live. You can also find information on writing exams and getting driving lessons in your province of choice below:

If you plan to use a foreign driver’s license in Canada, you must apply for an IDP before you come to Canada. This will give you a translation of your license into Canada’s official languages - French and English.

Canada's driver’s license process will depend on the province or territory you live in and your driving background. You may have to take either:

  • A written exam on Canadian road rules and regulations
  • One or two driving tests

Car Insurance

Car insurance in Canada | Car Rental & Driver's License in Canada

Driving in Canada without car insurance is illegal. This means that you must arrange to get car insurance with your car rental company in Canada. Most Canadian car rental companies offer collision damage waivers (CDW) and personal accident insurance at an additional charge. Some credit card companies in Canada include CDW insurance on car rentals when using their cards to pay for the rental. For more information, check the credit card’s terms and conditions. Learn more about car insurance in Canada.

Fuel and Service Stations

When it comes to gasoline, you can opt for unleaded gas or diesel. When you rent a car, car companies in Canada provide you with a full tank on your departure in exchange for returning the car with a full tank as well. If you do not return the rental car with a full gas tank, you must pay for it.

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, so driving distances in Canada from one place to another are generally further. When you fill your tank in cities, you will pay less than in small towns. Most gas stations are self-service and open 24 hours a day, except in rural areas, which close at 6 pm.

Start Driving in Canada

Drive in Canada | Car Rental & Driver's License in Canada

Now that you know more about car renting in Canada, driver’s license requirements, fees and costs, car insurance,and the car rental age in Canada, you can start planning your car rental budget. If you don’t currently drive, the best thing to do when you arrive in Canada is to get your Canadian driver’s license as soon as possible. If you already have a foreign driver’s license, remember you’ll need more than a year’s driving experience.


How do I Apply For a Canadian International Driving Permit?

You must contact the Canadian Automobile Association to access a Canadian International Driving Permit application form.

Things to note: Certain foreign car rental agencies may need you to have an IDP to hire a vehicle. The IDP you get will only permit driving a vehicle in the same class stated on your driver’s license. For example, you won't be able to drive an automobile if you are only licensed to operate a motorbike. Also, note that there is a huge chance that your travel insurance won’t cover an accident if you are not licensed for that particular vehicle.

How Long is an IDP Valid For?

IDPs are valid for one year from their issuance date.

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