Lawyers providing immigration assistance

In terms of transportation

To drive a car, motorcycle or scooter on Québec roads, you need a driver's licence and your vehicle must be registered with the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), which will give you a licence plate to install on your vehicle.

Driver's licence

Immigrants arriving in Canada to live here as permanent residents and who have a valid driver's licence from their country of origin may drive in Québec for their first six months.

International students may drive with a valid driver's permit issued by their country of origin for the entire period of validity of their study permit.

As for non-residents (tourists, temporary workers, etc.), for the first six months following their arrival, they may drive with a driver's licence issued by their country of origin. If they have an international driver's licence, they will be able to drive for the entire validity period of their licence as long as they also have a valid driver's licence issued by their country of origin.

Once the six-month period is over, new residents will have to obtain a Québec driver's licence.

To do so, they may exchange their licence if they have had a licence for at least one year before their arrival in Canada. This exchange may be made provided that they pass a knowledge test and a road test; however, people with a driver's licence issued by one of the following countries don't have to take these tests:

Germany, Austria, Belgium, the United States, France, Great Britain, Isle of Man, Japan, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan.

To exchange your driver's licence, you must be 16 years old or over, live in Québec and be authorized to remain in Canada.

To make this exchange, just contact the SAAQ to arrange an appointment.

This exchange may be made only within the 12 months following your arrival in Canada.

More information on exchanging a driver's licence may be found on the SAAQ's website.

Your years of driving experience outside Canada may also be recognized. More information on such recognition may be obtained on the SAAQ's website.

Immigrants who have a driver's licence from their country of origin for less than one year will have to take driving lessons from a SAAQ-accredited school and take the same tests as Quebecers.

More information on driving lessons, tests and the complete procedure for obtaining a driver's licence may be found on the SAAQ's website.

Buying and registering a vehicle without a Québec driver's licence

New residents with a driver's licence issued by their country of origin may buy a vehicle and have it registered even if they do not yet have a Québec driver's licence. However, after the first six months have passed, they will not be able to drive that vehicle until they have been issued a valid Québec driver's licence.

To register their vehicle, they will have to show two pieces of identification (for example, their passport and a driver's licence issued from their country of origin) as well as the various documents that are generally required when registering a vehicle.

More information on registering a vehicle may be found on the SAAQ's website.

Road safety

Everyone driving in a car must wear a seatbelt—the driver and all passengers of the vehicle. Babies and young children must sit in a car seat adapted to their size.

Driving with a hand-held cellphone, texting or driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol (having a blood-alcohol level above 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood), etc. are against the law.

Moreover, drinking and driving is against the law for drivers who are 21 years old or under. If they drink even a little bit, they must not drive!

Video bonus

For more information, watch show #27 (in French), free of charge, in the television series Le Droit de savoir, on driving under the influence.

On the road, drivers absolutely must obey the speed limits and road signs. The speed limits are set at:

  • 100 km/hour on highways
  • 50 km/hour or less in cities
  • 30 km/hour in school zones

Drivers who violate the Highway Safety Code are liable to be penalized—by means of demerit points (which will be deducted from the total number of points allotted to them when they are issued their driver's licence), by fines or even by a temporary or permanent suspension of their licence, depending on the nature of the infractions and their frequency.

More information on road safety may be found on the SAAQ's website.

Public transit

Most medium-sized and large cities offer public transit service by bus. In more remote areas, sometimes taxi-buses are available. Montréal is the only city in Québec to have an underground subway system (called the metro) as well as commuter train lines.

More information on public transit in your city may be found on the website of the public transit corporation providing the service.

© Barreau du Québec 2013-