Obtaining a driver’s license in Quebec for newcomers

May 15, 2024

Settling into a new region comes with its challenges and opportunities, and obtaining a driver’s license is part of it. In Quebec, a driver’s license is not just a simple administrative formality, it is your passport to autonomy and successful integration into daily life. By following this guide, you will discover the specifics of the Quebec driver’s license system and the steps to follow for newcomers.


Understanding the quebec driver’s license system

A Class 5 license is mandatory for driving a car in Quebec. This system can vary significantly from other countries, so it is essential for newcomers to familiarize themselves with the specifics of the Quebec license. To see the list of reciprocity agreements between Quebec and other nations, you can consult it on our dedicated page. For example, the Quebec driver’s license is mainly divided into several classes, the most common being Class 5 for automobiles, Class 6 for motorcycles, and Class 2 for buses.


Prerequisites for newcomers

To apply for a Class 5 license, you must be at least 16 years old to begin learning and 18 years old to drive alone. The necessary documents include proof of residence in Quebec, your legal status in Canada, and your current driver’s license if applicable.


Driving rights for non-residents and new residents

According to information found on the SAAQ website, here are the rules applicable to non-residents and new residents of Quebec regarding driving with a foreign license, as well as the procedures for obtaining or exchanging a Quebec license:

  • Non-residents: If you have a valid driver’s license from your home country, you can drive in Quebec for up to 6 months after your arrival. After this period, you will need to obtain a Quebec license.
  • International students : Students with a study permit can drive with their foreign license for the duration of their studies in Quebec, provided that their license remains valid.
  • New residents: If you move to Quebec and have a driver’s license from another country, you have two options, depending on whether a reciprocity agreement exists between Quebec and your country:

1) With a reciprocity agreement: You can exchange your foreign license for a Quebec license without taking a test, subject to certain conditions.

2) Without a reciprocity agreement: You will need to take an approved driving course by the SAAQ and pass theoretical and practical exams.

The step-by-step process of obtaining a license

1) Theoretical courses: Before taking the theoretical exam, it is highly recommended to attend theoretical courses on road rules, traffic signals, and safe driving principles. They are important for preparing candidates not only to pass the exam but also to become responsible and informed drivers.

2) Knowledge assessment: Prepare for the theoretical exam that covers road rules, traffic signals, and safety principles. Comprehensive educational resources are available to help candidates familiarize themselves with the exam content.

3) Practical driving course: The practical course teaches how to maneuver a vehicle and respond effectively in various driving situations. This training includes lessons on vehicle handling, driving in real conditions, and essential safety maneuvers.

4) Practical exam: The practical exam assesses your ability to drive independently and safely, focusing on your ability to apply the rules and techniques learned during practical training.

Tips for adapting to driving in quebec

Driving in Quebec presents unique challenges, especially due to winter conditions. École Somerled will provide you with the necessary techniques for safe driving, including on snow and ice. You also benefit from personalized learning and experienced instructors who guide you through each step of the process, ensuring your success in obtaining a driver’s license.



Obtaining a driver’s license in Quebec is an important step for newcomers, offering greater autonomy and facilitating integration into Quebec society. Contact us or visit our website for more information or to register for our courses. Start your journey to independence on the roads of Quebec with École Somerled.