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What You Need to Drive Abroad

With COVID-19 travel restrictions easing, people are increasingly looking at vacations abroad. If you’re planning a trip outside of Canada that involves a rental car, here are some key things you should know before heading out.

Get an International Driver’s Permit

An international driver’s permit (IDP) is multilingual proof that you have passed the necessary qualifying criteria to drive a vehicle in your home country and hold a valid license. While the requirements vary from country-to-country, you may be required to present this type of photo identification before getting the keys to your vacation vehicle. If you encounter a traffic officer or other representative of the local government, the IDP can help serve as identification if the official can’t read the language of your license.

Fortunately, the process to get an IDP is quick, inexpensive, and easy. However, IDPs are only valid for 12 months. So, if you’ve let yours lapse during the pandemic, it’s a good idea to get started on this process early. Here is a link to the Canadian government’s page on IDPs and the process to get one.

Rental Car Insurance

We’ve written about this topic before (check it out here). If you have a rental vehicle endorsement – or add-on – to your existing auto insurance policy, your coverage can be extended to rental vehicles used in Canada or the U.S. Always remember to review and understand your policy to ensure there are no limitations on vehicle rentals. If you’re travelling to outside of Canada or the U.S., then before you leave, you should understand what the local requirements and potential liabilities are if you get into a collision. Note that some types of credit card programs, as well as rental agencies, may offer rental vehicle coverage.

Understand local laws

The rules of the road can vary from country-to-country and even change within the same city; we don’t have to look beyond our own borders to see an example. In Quebec, most intersections will allow a right turn on a red light, except on the island region of Montreal.

Speed limits, traffic lights, road signs, and local traffic patterns can all be unfamiliar – and stressful – to navigate. Do your best in advance to get familiar with what you might encounter on the roads. You don’t want to be figuring out how to get around while also trying to figure out where you need to go.

If you’re traveling with children, the need for advanced research also applies to safety and booster seats. Depending on their age, or height and weight, your younger travellers may need added restraints and protection.

Taking the time to research the rules and requirements of the road before you leave will pay dividends during your trip, most notably in the form of peace of mind. That freedom will allow you to focus your energy on enjoying the return of travel and exploration.

“This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing specific legal or insurance advice.”

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