Can international students drive in Canada?
Yes, international students can drive in Canada. However, they will need a valid driver’s licence to do so. Depending on the length of their studies in Canada, they may be required to obtain a Canadian driver’s licence to drive.
The rules vary from province to province, but generally speaking, international students can drive using valid licences from their home countries after their initial arrival in Canada (usually for a period of three to six months).
After this period has expired, if an international student wants to keep driving, they need to obtain an international driving permit (IDP) from their home country that has been translated into one of Canada’s official languages (English or French) or get a driver’s licence from the province or territory in which they are living and studying in.
If they have a full driver’s licence from their home country, they may be able to swap this licence for a Canadian licence, however, only licences from certain countries are eligible for this. If they are not eligible for a licence swap or do not have a licence from their home country, they will need to apply for a licence in Canada by going through the same system as all other Canadian residents.
Are international students required to have car insurance?
Yes, car insurance is mandatory for all drivers in Canada, including international student drivers. Therefore, whether you are a citizen, permanent resident, or visiting on a student visa, you will need to have a driver’s licence with valid car insurance to get behind the wheel. Car insurance requirements vary by province. For example, in Ontario, your auto insurance policy must include uninsured automobile coverage, direct compensation - property damage coverage, accident benefits coverage, and at least $200,000 in third party liability coverage.
What information do international students need to buy car insurance from an insurance company in Canada?
International students should be prepared to show the following documents and provide the following information to auto insurance companies when shopping for car insurance:
- A valid driver’s license
- Your home address, legal name, and driving record
- Information about your vehicle, including its model, make, age, registration number, and mileage
- Your past and current insurance history
- An official letter to prove your insurance claims history
Are international students eligible for auto insurance?
Yes, international students can obtain auto insurance in Canada. However, it may be more challenging and expensive to do so. Insurance companies often charge higher rates to international drivers, especially if they are unable to show their driving record or claims history from their home country. To avoid paying more than you have to for car insurance, contact a trusted insurance brokerage like BrokerLink. We will shop around on your behalf and ensure we get you the best possible car insurance rate.
How to get a driver’s licence as an international student in Canada
If you do not have a valid driver’s licence from your home country or are unable to swap yours for a Canadian licence, you may need to apply for a Canadian driver’s licence. The process of obtaining a driver’s licence in Canada varies by province. Let’s use Ontario as an example. The province of Ontario has a graduated licencing system consisting of three levels. An international student must pass all three levels to obtain a full Ontario driver’s licence:
- Level one: The first level is the G1 written test, which tests your knowledge of the road.
- Level two: The second level is the G2 road test, which tests your ability to practice safe driving skills and obey the rules of the road.
- Level three: The third and final level is the G road test. You will receive a full G licence if you pass this practical driving test, which includes highway driving.
Compulsory car insurance coverage for international students
As you now know, car insurance is mandatory for all drivers in Canada. So if you plan to drive while studying in Canada, you will need to ensure you have adequate insurance coverage. That means finding a policy that complies with the minimum coverage requirements in the province or territory where you study. Using Ontario as an example, below is a breakdown of each coverage type that Ontario drivers are required to have:
Third party liability coverage
Third party liability coverage provides legal protection if you injure someone else or cause property damage to another person’s property on the road. This type of coverage can help pay for medical expenses associated with bodily injuries or repairs of damaged cars, as well as any applicable legal fees and settlements up to the coverage limit. In Ontario, international student drivers are required to hold a minimum of $200,000 in third party liability coverage at all times.
Direct compensation - property damage coverage
Direct compensation - property damage coverage protects an insured vehicle and its contents against property damage, so long as the policyholder is not at fault for the collision that caused said damage. Under this type of coverage, the insurance provider typically pays for the repair or replacement of your car directly. Note that to be eligible for direct compensation coverage, the collision must meet the following circumstances: it occurred in Ontario, it involved more than one vehicle, and it involved at least one vehicle that participates in the province’s car insurance program.
Uninsured automobile coverage
Uninsured automobile coverage is designed to protect you and any passengers in your vehicle if you get into a collision with an at-fault driver who is either uninsured or underinsured. This type of coverage can also protect the policyholder in the event of a hit-and-run.
Accident benefits coverage
If you, a passenger, or a pedestrian requires medical attention following a collision, accident benefits coverage can help. This type of coverage is provided no matter who was at fault for the accident and it can help cover a wide range of medical expenses like prescription medications, physical therapy, or rehabilitation, as well as loss of income.
Optional auto insurance coverage for international students
Beyond the compulsory car insurance coverages listed above, international student drivers may wish to purchase additional coverage. Below is a list of the three most popular optional insurance coverages for international student drivers in Canada:
If you get into an accident with another vehicle or object on the road, no matter who is at fault for the accident, collision coverage can help cover the costs. Under the collision coverage section of your policy, you can receive compensation to help pay for any property damage that resulted from the accident, such as a damaged car.
International student drivers may find comprehensive coverage worthwhile. This optional type of coverage protects against a wide range of circumstances other than collisions. Sometimes referred to as parked car insurance, comprehensive coverage will compensate you in the event of damage caused by an insured peril. Examples of insured perils are theft, vandalism, water damage, fire, riots, falling objects, and more.
Accident forgiveness coverage
One final type of optional car insurance coverage popular among international student drivers is accident forgiveness. Accident forgiveness is additional coverage that can be added to your car insurance policy as an endorsement, to protect your driving record and to help prevent your insurance premium from increasing if you have an at-fault accident claim.
Note: coverage varies by province.
Tips for saving money on international student car insurance
Avoid overspending on car insurance by taking advantage of the tips below. Since car insurance rates for international drivers and young drivers tend to be the highest, it’s helpful for international students to know ways they can keep rates low. The BrokerLink team has put together a list of money-saving tips for auto insurance below:
- Maintain a clean driving record by driving safely and responsibly, obeying the rules of the road.
- Increase your deductible.
- Enrol in an approved driving school.
- Pay auto insurance annually rather than monthly.
- Install winter tires on your vehicle (savings of up to 5%, depending on the province).
Learn more about car insurance for international students by contacting BrokerLink
If you're an international student in need of car insurance, contact BrokerLink today. We take the stress out of auto insurance shopping by doing the work for you. Give us a call, explain your unique needs, and an insurance advisor will work to find you the best coverage at an affordable rate. Plus, since we have been in business since 1991, you can rest easy knowing we have the resources and expertise to help you. For unbiased, objective advice on the best insurance policy for you, contact BrokerLink.
We also encourage all international students in Canada to take advantage of BrokerLink’s free quote tool. Simply answer a few basic questions about yourself and you can receive a free quote in minutes.
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