By Spreet Aulakh on January 16

Car hire in Canada advice

Driving in a new country can be a daunting experience. Before getting started, you should read up on driving laws, requirements and customs in the country you’re visiting. If you’re planning a driving trip to Canada, we’ve pulled together answers to common questions and queries in these areas.

Can I drive in Canada with an Irish Licence?

You can drive in Canada with an Irish driving licence, but you’ll need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) before doing so. IDPs don’t involve any additional testing, you just have to apply via a form which can be done online or by post. You can only obtain an IDP in Ireland from the AA.

You’ll need to get an IDP before you travel. It’s best to apply well in advance, so you know your permit will be processed in time for your trip. An IDP will cost you €10, and the permit will be valid for one year. If you need your permit to be posted to you, an additional €5 fee will apply.

Hiring a Car in Canada Requirements

Before travelling or booking a hire car, make sure you meet all the requirements for the company you are hiring from.

The minimum age for renting a car in Canada is 21 years of age. Between the age of 21 and 25 you may also find yourself hit with a young drivers’ surcharge. The only exception to this is in Saskatchewan.

When you get to the rental desk, it’s likely that you’ll have to show a passport and a return plane ticket before picking up your vehicle – so have these to hand, especially if you’re picking up from the airport.

You’ll find renting easier in Canada if you pay via credit card. Few companies will accept debit or cash payments as they’ll want to hold a security deposit on your credit card.

If you are paying on a credit card – make sure it has the same name on as your driving licence. If it doesn’t, the rental company may reject payment/p>

What Car Insurance do I need in Canada?

There are different types of insurance you may need to drive in Canada:

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): This provides cover in the event of a collision or damage to the vehicle.

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW): This will keep you covered if the car is stolen, or if it is damaged so badly it cannot be repaired.

You can top up your CDW and LDW and get insured for excess charges through independent insurance companies like This offers you more protection in case of an accident, and often at a lower rate than similar policies offered by car hire companies.

In addition to CDW and LDW, you may also need Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI): Basic third-party liability insurance has to be included when hiring a car in Canada, however, this is just the minimum statutory amount and is often very low. Check if you already have this covered by your travel insurance, if not, you will have the option to buy this from the rental company.

Is Canada Left or Right-Hand Drive?

Unlike Ireland, Canada drives on the right-hand side of the road. Be prepared for this when picking up your rental vehicle. Consider renting an automatic vehicle to eliminate having to master changing gear with your right hand.

Car Hire USA to Canada

If you’re planning a trip spanning parts of the US and Canada, you’ll be happy to know that most major car hire companies will allow you to cross the border – if you give them prior warning.

You’ll need your passport, IDP and other travel documents to cross the border but, aside from this, making the journey should be relatively simple.

One-Way Car Hire Canada

If you’re planning a trip from a location in Canada to somewhere in the US, you can choose one-way car hire. This means you’ll collect your vehicle in one country and return it in another. This saves you driving back on yourself - but it can cost you extra cash.

If you can, plan your trip in a loop and return your car where you collected it, to avoid the extra expense.

If you are planning a driving trip to Canada these handy hints and tips should get you on the right road. You now know what you need to get all set for your getaway.