When you arrive in Québec you may decide that you don’t need a car, as public transport is so convenient, but others may need a car for travelling to work, for social reasons, or just because they enjoy or are in the habit of driving. If you have a driver’s licence already from your county of origin, this may not be valid for driving in Québec due to differing regulations and laws. Because of this, you might need to get a driver’s licence exchange.
What is a driver’s licence exchange?
As you might guess it from the name, it is an exchange of your existing foreign driver’s licence for a Québec licence; if you want to drive frequently in the province, you will need one.
The province of Québec allows you to drive the corresponding class of vehicle your foreign licence authorizes for 6 consecutive months following your arrival in Québec without needing a licence exchange. Once these 6 months have passed, you will need to either hold an international driver’s permit, or if you take up residence in Québec, get your licence exchange or take a driving test.
If you want to get a Québec’s driver’s license or if you want to exchange your licence, you have to call Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ) to make an appointment.
Who can get a driver’s licence exchange?
You will first need to meet the following requirements in order to get a licence exchange:
- be aged 16 or older (or 14 for a scooter with a cylinder capacity of 50 cc or less, Class 6D)
- hold a licence authorizing you to drive a car or operate a motorcycle, or moped, or scooter
- be a resident of Québec
- be authorized to stay in Canada
You can benefit from a driver’s licence exchange for a passenger car or a moped without having to take a test if your existing licence was issued in one of the countries listed below:
- Great Britain: England, Scotland, Wales
- Isle of Man
- Northern Ireland
- Republic of Korea (South Korea)
- The Netherlands: Holland and the Dutch Antilles (Sint Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba and Sint Eustatius)
- Plus other Canadian provinces
If you drive something other than a passenger car or a moped, such as a motorcycle or a truck, you will have to take a test.
If you are coming from a country that is not listed above, you can still get a licence exchange but you have to take a driving test first.
How do you apply for a driver’s licence exchange?
You will first need to contact the SAAQ to schedule an appointment, and attend a designated service outlet. Depending on your your situation, you will need to bring different documents to the SAAQ.
Typically you will need the following documents (originals, not copies) to apply for a licence exchange:
- Foreign driver’s licence
- Proof of Canadian citizenship or right to stay in Canada
- Proof of residency in Québec
- Proof of residency in the country in which your licence was issued if you obtained your licence within the previous 3 years
- Translation of your driver’s licence, if it is written in a language other than French or English
NOTE: Permanent residents have to bring their “Confirmation of Permanent Residence” document as the permanent resident card is not sufficient to get a licence exchange. Contact the SAAQ if you’re unsure of which documents are required.
Monday to Friday, call:
- From Québec : 418 643-7620
- From Montréal : 514 873-7620
- From elsewhere : 1 800 361-7620
And keep in mind, ARIANNE’s Online Relocation Guides are loaded with valuable information about transportation, employment, housing, education, and much more, an essential resource for anyone moving to Canada.
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