Holding both US and Canadian driver's license

Hi all,

Has anyone been able to hold both US and Canadian Driver’s licenses?
As far as I understand, we need to forfeit the US driver’s license in order to get the Canadian license. Is that correct?
But I foresee myself needing the US driver’s license as well, as I will be splitting my time between US and Canada.

Has anyone been in a similar situation?


you dont have to turn it your US license if you want to go through the drill of G1 → G2 → G which could take 1-2 years.

with exchange of US license, you get instantaneous G.

you can always drive on your Canadian license in US for short term, take the call on exchange based on which is your primary driving and residence place.

The confiscation of your foreign (Or another Canadian province) license is a provincial license bureau function which is exercised at the time you exchage the foreign license for a local one. What should happen is that when you apply to exchange your “foreign” permit for a new provincial permit, the “foreign” permit should be confiscated and the provincial bureau notifies the originial issuing state that they have invalidated the original license. (So you can’t just apply back to the original issuer for the replacement of a “lost” permit.)
I don’t know what happens in other provinces, but in Quebec the above procedure is the rule, according to the regulations book. However, Quebec SAAQ agents are often not clear on the regulations on this point and if you simply ask them to let you keep yur original license, they may. Also, if you’re charming enough, even those who know the rule will often allow you to keep the original license. So smile, be polite and and put on your “sales” hat.

This is illegal, don’t attempt to do this. Most states in the USA and Canadian Provinces share licensing data through the compact Driver License Compact - Wikipedia

See also What happens if I'm caught with two valid licences? - The Globe and Mail

There’s absolutely no need whatsoever to possess two licenses to drive in the US and Canada. You should be licensed in the Province/State that you’re the primary resident of and can freely use that license anywhere else.

Thanks everyone for the replies.

So, the message I’m getting here is not to try to keep both licenses, but keep only the license of the place where I reside a majority of the time.

Now, I am aware that you can drive in the US on a Canadian license, but is the reverse also true?

When I first land in Canada, can I drive for the first month on a US license?
How about after a year? Let’s say I live in the US for a year and come to visit Canada for a couple of months.

Yes, that would be fine if you are here for smaller periods.

Also sharing my experience - I exchanged my California license in Onratio 2 years back. However, California DMV sent me a license renewal notice last year for which I tried applying online and it let me submit a renewal application. A few weeks later, they sent me a renewed license.
I don’t use it though whenever I visit US but the point being these agencies are ideally supposed to share the exchange information but it might not be 100%. But if there are rules around not having both licenses, ideally we should avoid the risk.