Canada is known to be a country full of beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife and outstanding beauty, so it’s no surprise that people flock there each year to travel. Driving in Canada, whether it’s through the imposing peaks of the Rocky Mountains or in the metropolitan centres of Vancouver or Toronto, can be a hugely enjoyable adventure and an experience that you’ll never forget. As always, when driving in a foreign country, there are some common questions that you should research in order to make your time as enjoyable as possible.

What side of the road do you drive in Canada?

Canadians drive on the right side of the road and their vehicles are left-hand drive. For tourists visiting from Australia, this can take a little bit of getting used to and can feel unnatural at first, but just take your time and go steady until you’re used to it.

Driving in Canada with an Australian licence

To drive in Canada using an Australian licence, it is necessary to obtain an international driver permit (IDP) before you travel, although the Australian driver’s licence is recognised in the following territories: Alberta, British Colombia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. IDPs are issued by the state authority which granted your Australian licence, to obtain an IDP, contact the relevant issuing authority using the following link.

What is the age to drive in Canada?

As Canada is split into different provinces, the age to drive varies depending on where you plan to visit. For example, in Alberta, the minimum age to drive is 18, whereas in Nova Scotia you must be a minimum of 16 years old. Taking this into account, if you’re heading to Canada as a family with a 17-year-old, it might be best to check the local laws – you can find out more information here.

What is the driving distance across Canada?

Canada takes up 9.985 million km2 and is one of only five countries in the world larger than Australia, so there could potentially be a lot of mileage involved in a Canadian road trip. For example, if you wanted to check out both Toronto, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta, you’d have to travel 3,419km to reach your destination. With large national parks all over the route and expanses with very little population, it’s advisable to ensure that you are well prepared for any eventuality. That means stocking up on basic food and water supplies and a full tank of petrol for longer journeys.

Driving to Canada from the US requirements

If you’re on a trip that takes you from the USA into Canada, there are several things that you should remember when crossing the border. Firstly, and quite obviously, remember to have your passport on hand. Make sure that you have your vehicle registration and rental documents, and make sure your rental agreement and insurance allow you to take the car across the border. Border officers will be keeping a lookout for stolen cars coming to and from Canada. Also, be mindful of any tobacco or alcohol that you’re taking back into Canada, you can find out more information on declaring goods here.

Driving across Canada tips

Keep your tank full

Gas stations can be few and far between in some areas. If you’re driving in large expanses of unpopulated land, take advantage of each rest stop so you don’t run the risk of running out of fuel.

Animal warnings

Whether it’s bears, deer or moose, there are plenty of wild animals to see in Canada. Keep an eye out for road signs that warn you of animals crossing and drive carefully! Similarly, if you head out for a leg stretch, be aware of getting too close!

Wild weather

Canada is known to have constantly changing weather, especially if you’re out in the national parks. Setting off on a snowy morning and cranking up the air conditioning by lunchtime is a common occurrence, so be sure to check fluid levels before setting off.

Road signs and highway code

There are numerous different road laws and signs that you’ll come across on your travels through Canada, therefore it’s advisable to brush up on these before you head on your trip. Also, remember that some signs will be in French, use the following online guide to recognise common signs.

Get insured

Having rental car insurance is vital in order to protect yourself should something unexpected happen on your trip. Generally, rental car companies will offer you their own Collision and Loss Damage Waiver Insurance. However, these policies often won’t cover certain, vulnerable parts of the car such as the windscreen or tires – meaning you’d be liable to pay an excess. Our USA & Canada cover covers every part of your car up to $200,000 and any excess charges up to $10,000, so you’ll never be out of pocket.

Driving in Canada can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and make for a truly memorable trip. As you navigate the snow-capped mountains and the wide-open plains, knowing some of the driving laws and etiquette should help to make your Canadian road trip go as smoothly as possible. All you’ll be left to do is take in the sights.

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