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Rent a car in Canada and GoSee as much of the Great White North as you can. From lakes and mountains to prairies and oceans, Canada is a diverse land of stunning nature and abundant wildlife. There’s a lot of ground to cover in the second-largest country in the world, so get the right Canada car rental with a little help from us.
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Top tips on driving a car hire in Canada
- A full, valid license from your home country is accepted in Canada for driving a vehicle. If it is in a language other than English, or you are visiting for more than three months, it is a good idea to obtain an International Drivers Permit in your home country before travelling.
- Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road. Brits and Americans should note that speed limits are measured and displayed in kilometres per hour.
- Statutory speed limits are set for each province or territory to apply on roads without posted speed limits. With very few exceptions, these are 30 km/h in school zones, 50 in urban zones, 80-100 in rural zones including highways, and 100-110 on expressways. 120 is the highest limit in the country, allowed on expressways in British Columbia.
- In keeping with its massive nature, Canada is home to some huge wildlife, so avoid driving at night in rural areas and be extra alert when driving at dusk and dawn.
- Driving in winter can prove tricky, with ice and snow on the road and poor visibility a fairly regular occurrence. Whilst the roads are well serviced and the locals are used to it, it is recommended that you avoid driving in unfavourable weather conditions.
- The use of seatbelts is mandatory across the country.
- It is illegal to talk on cellphones while driving in Canada, so leave all mobile communications to passengers.
It is a criminal offence to operate a motor vehicle when the driver’s ability to do so is impaired by alcohol or a drug. The penalties for both offences, called DUI and DWI, include suspension of license and fines. It is impossible to estimate how many drinks will put you over the limit, so we strongly recommend that you do not drink at all when planning to drive.
Give way, passing rules and intersections
An important part of driving in any country is knowing when to give way to another vehicle or other entity.
- Give way to police cars and all emergency vehicles when they have lights and sirens going.
- You must always stop and refrain from passing a school bus when it flashes red lights.
- Four-way intersections are common in Canada. When these do not have traffic lights to control them, they work on a system whereby the first vehicle to arrive at a stop or yield sign has right of way, and failing that, priority is given to the vehicle on the right.
- Roundabouts also make an appearance on Canadian roads, primarily in Quebec. Traffic flows around the roundabout in an anticlockwise direction, and those entering give way to those already on it.
- Canada has one or two traffic light quirks that might confuse foreign drivers. The first of these are flashing green lights, which aren’t often seen in other countries. In Ontario and most other places, a flashing green signals permission for traffic to turn left before the oncoming vehicles are allowed to go. However, in British Columbia and the Yukon, they signal to drivers that it’s a pedestrian-controlled intersection and you should proceed with caution.
- The provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island use traffic lights with shapes as well as colours, to aid those with colour-blindness.
- It varies between provinces whether or not you are allowed to make a right turn when stopped at a red light. It is best to check specific provincial road rules before setting out.
- Right turns on a red light are permitted unless there is a sign stating otherwise. The exception to this is the island of Montreal. A flashing red pedestrian signal means you should finish your crossing, but do not begin crossing the road if you have not already.
- Canada’s roads use yellow lines to separate traffic moving in opposite directions. White lines separate traffic moving in the same direction. If a road is one-way, there will be a white line on the right shoulder and a yellow on the left.
- The general rule for passing is that it is permitted where lines are broken or dashed. When white lines between lanes are broken, overtaking is allowed, when they are solid it is discouraged. When yellow lines between opposing traffic on a single carriageway (one lane on each side) are broken, passing is allowed in either direction when it is safe. When there is a double yellow line of which one is broken and the other is solid, passing is allowed only on the broken side. A double solid yellow line means no passing.
- When there is more than one lane for vehicles travelling in a particular direction, they should keep to the right-hand lanes if driving at less than the normal speed of travel. The left-hand lanes are for fast vehicles and those passing. Some provinces allow undertaking (passing on the right), so be aware that vehicles might pass you on the “wrong” side.
Parking is plentiful in towns, rural areas, and even some cities. However, major urban centres will require a bit more thought. Memorise your plate number to make life easy when using metered parking. You can pay buy mobile phone or credit card much of the time, but some machines will still require coins. When using parking garages or lots, you may have to pay for your ticket before returning to your car.
It is illegal to park in front of fire hydrants, on the sidewalk or facing the wrong way on the road. Be very careful parking on the street when it is snowing, as snowploughs require space to do their job. There will also be designated snow clearing times in winter, where you cannot park your car in certain spaces overnight.
Popular attractions in Canada
If you are travelling to one of the most-visited centres in Canada, hop in your Canada car rental and explore further afield.
On the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is the hub for a lot of Canada’s east coast action. With just a morning or afternoon on the road you can be in Ottawa or even to the french-speaking city of Montreal. Skirt around the lake to Niagara Falls in 90 minutes, or cross the border and continue to Buffalo and Rochester in upstate New York. The lakes are the stars of the show in the Toronto area, and you can get to them all with a car rental from Toronto. Even the famous city of Chicago on Lake Michigan is a within a day’s drive.
A Vancouver car rental will get you close to some of the country’s most spectacular natural features. The famous mountain resorts of Whistler, Kelowna and Kamloops are less than five hours from the city, as is Okanagan Lake, Vancouver Island is a vehicular ferry ride away, and there are multiple National Parks you could reach within a day’s drive. These include the beautiful Banff National Park and Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. If you want to cross the border, you could get to Seattle in less than three hours, and Portland in a few more.
Calgary is close to Banff and Jasper National Parks which is all the incentive people need to use it as a starting point for their Canada car rental journey. Pick up a car rental at Calgary Airport and get to the township of Banff, just one and a half hours, and from there the beautiful scenery and opportunities for mountain adventures are waiting. Edmonton is less than three hours to the north, and to the east of Calgary stretches the flat prairies and eventually the city of Regina.
Montreal is a lovely city, with a beautiful Old Town and plenty of exciting places to eat, drink and be entertained. If you can tear yourself away from the place, there are more urban delights within a short day’s drive including Quebec City, Ottawa and Toronto. Anglophone or Francophone—you can take your pick! If you are willing to venture a little further in your Montreal car rental and make it a long day on the road, you could make it as far as Nova Scotia and Halifax or well into the United States. Boston is less than six hours’ drive, and New York less than seven.
Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, and is nicknamed “Canada’s Festival City” thanks to the many events it hosts each year. It is also home to North America’s largest mall. The city is a little more remote than most of Canada’s major cities, and a lot of driving is required to get to any urban centres of note beyond Calgary which is three hours to the south. One place for which Edmonton makes a handy starting point is Jasper National Park, four hours to the west of the city. There you will find small towns, hot springs, lakes and general Canadian beauty. Got all day? You could reach the mountain resorts of Banff, Kamloops or Kelowna if you hustle! Grab an Edmonton Airport car rental and experience its stunning surrounds.
What our customers say
How much does it cost to hire a car in Canada?
Car rental rates in Canada vary depending on factors such as location, availability, and type of vehicle. Type your destination and dates into the search bar above to compare prices and get an up to date quote.
How old do I need to be to rent a car in Canada?
You must be at least 18 years old to rent a car in Canada, and many suppliers charge additional fees to drivers under the age of 25.
What drivers license do I need to rent a car in Canada?
You need a full, valid, standard driver’s license to drive in Canada. If your license is in another language, you need an adequate translation or an international drivers permit.
How do I get the best deal on a rental car?
The best way to score a deal on a rental car is to compare rates and look for specials well in advance of your travel dates. Typically, the closer to your departure date, the higher the rates due to shrinking supplies. Use GoSee’s sophisticated search engine to compare multiple brands in one place.
Which car hire companies in Canada have updated their vehicle cleaning and safety policies because of coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Most of our Canadian car rental partners have updated their car rental health and safety policies due to COVID-19 to make sure vehicles are clean and disinfected. These hire car companies include Avis, Europcar, Budget, and Thrifty Car Rental Canada.
What types of cars can I rent in Canada?
You can rent all types of vehicles in Canada, including compact, economy, intermediate, standard, full size, SUV, luxury/premium, vans, and trucks. Multiple top name brands are available ranging from discount car rental to ultimate luxury. Supplies will vary from depot to depot. Type in your destination and dates at the top of the page to compare brands and prices in one easy search.
Can I hire a car in one location and drop it off somewhere else?
Typically, our partnered brands allow you to pick up a vehicle in one part of Canada and drop it off in another, but this may incur an additional cost. Type in your details in the search box above and read the terms regarded one-way rentals.
What is the speed limit in Canada?
Speed limits in Canada vary according to the rules set by the provinces. They are posted on signs alongside the road in kilometres per hour (km/h).
How much does gasoline cost in Canada?
Fuel prices vary across Canada and fluctuate according to supply and demand.