5 essentials you need for renting a car in Canada

December 4, 2014

From car insurance to a valid driver’s license to a clean driving record, if you're planning to rent a car in Canada here's a list of the five essential requirements you must have.

5 essentials you need for renting a car in Canada

Renting a car is an awesome way to experience everything from getting around in a new city to exploring beautiful Canadian landscapes. Often the requirements to rent a car can be a little bit confusing – especially if this is your first time doing so, or you are visiting Canada from another country. Here is a list of what you'll need before driving off:

1. A valid driver’s license

The license must be valid at the time of rental and remain valid during the entire rental period. A valid driver's license includes those issued by a:

  • Canadian province or territory
  • US state, territory or possession
  • Country that is a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic or the 1943 Convention on the Regulation of Inter-American Automobile Traffic.
  • Country that has a reciprocal agreement with Canada.

N.B.: International Driver’s Permits are valid only if presented with the original local license.

In addition:

  • At the time of rental, the renter, authorized driver, or additional driver may be required to sign a declaration attesting to the fact that they have a valid license that is not currently suspended, revoked, expired, cancelled or surrendered.
  • A temporary driver's license is acceptable only if it has no restrictions and is valid for the entire period of the rental.
  • If you only have a learner's permits (a G1 or G2 license), you won’t be allowed to rent a car.

2. To be above a certain age

All rental companies in Canada have a minimum driving age to rent a vehicle within Canada.

  • The most common minimum age is 21 or 24 years old, except in Saskatchewan which has a minimum age of 18.
  • Often, drivers under the age of 25 are not eligible to rent such vehicles as luxury cars, SUVs, or minivans.
  • You should check with the rental car company to learn of their individual policy.

3. An acceptable driving record

This will be enforced differently depending on the car rental company you go with.

  • If you are worried about your driving history, your best bet is to call the rental company ahead of time.

4. A credit card

Present a credit card that is accepted by the rental car company and has enough credit to pay for the entire trip.

  • Another option is to pay the full amount in cash.

N.B.: Most often, rental car companies will need a cash or credit deposit to book your reservation in advance.

5. Insurance for the rental car

Insurance and liability coverage rates vary not just by company, but also by region.

  • If you need to rent a large van or truck, chances are your car insurance doesn't cover them.
  • Also, some companies have added fees in the event of an accident.

Ultimately, you are responsible for the car you rent, whether you use your own vehicle insurance, credit card, or the rental company’s supplementary insurance. Read the insurance policy for the car rental company and then call your insurance and credit card company to find out if you are covered – a 10-minute phone call can save you a big headache the day of your rental.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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