Immigrating to Quebec: How to Get Your Quebec Driver's Licence

Published on Jul 09, 2012

In the province of Quebec you have 6 months from the time of your arrival to apply for a drivers licence as a resident. The first step to obtaining your licence, no matter where you are coming from, is to make an appointment with the SAAQ (Societe d'assurance automobile Quebec), which handles all driver licensing. For all drivers coming from another country, the number to call is 1-888-356-6616. The clerk will give you an appointment and further instructions.

Licence Exchange in Quebec

Quebec offers a licence exchange program without the need for any driver licence test as long as you come from one of the countries on the following list:

  • United States
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Isle of Man
  • Northern Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea (South Korea)
  • Taiwan
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey

You can exchange your licence for a Quebec licence of the same level by providing the SAAQ with the required proof of your driving experience. If you live in any other country, you will be required to pass the driving tests required for the issuing of a license in Quebec.

How to Get a Quebec Licence

Getting a licence to drive in Quebec is a process that passes through a graduated licence system. Where you will fall in that system depends on how many years of experience you have, and how long you have been driving.

The first step is to call the SAAQ and tell them your situation. They will ask you which documents you have in hand. Among those that are helpful and may be required are:

  • Your current driver's licence accompanied by a translation or International Drivers Licence
  • A letter of experience from your nation's licence issuing authority, translated if necessary
  • Proof of your identity
  • Proof that you are in Canada legally
  • Proof of residence in Quebec

You may be required to take proficiency tests to prove that you are able to handle the roads in Quebec. These can be either written tests, road tests, or both. You will also have to pay all licence fees at the time of application. The schedule of fees is located here.

In most cases you will be able to obtain a licence after passing the required tests. If you do not have the required years of experience, you may enter the graduated licence system and have to go through the steps in order to get a full drivers licence.

Call the SSAQ to make your initial appointment. If you are required to take any tests you will be notified and can then make the required testing appointments either by phone or online. It's a good idea to study the Quebec driving laws and take a driving theory test online to practice before you take the actual test.

Quebec's Graduated Licensing

There are several steps to obtaining a full licence in Quebec. They are designed to improve driving skills over time and keep the roads safer. These steps are:

  • Registering for and taking the required driver education class
  • Obtaining a learner's permit upon completion of the education portion
  • Pass the written test after at least 10 months holding a learner's permit
  • Pass the road test after passing the written test and at least 12 months with a permit
  • Hold a probationary licence after passing the road test for 24 months, finally graduating to a full licence

You can read the details of each type of licence and learn the restrictions for each in the full listing here. Drivers arriving from other nations may be asked to take the tests but may not be required to serve the waiting periods, with the possible exception of the 24 months of probationary licensing.

Car Insurance for Quebec Drivers

You will have to obtain insurance in order to drive in Quebec. Car insurance is provided by a combination of a public company and private insurers. This means you can get car insurance quotes from a variety of companies for some portion of your coverage, which covers property damage. Having a copy of your claim-free history from your home country is an important way to get better rates on your insurance in Quebec.

A letter of experience from a previous insurance company or drivers abstract showing no accidents and tickets can help establish your history.

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