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I am a dual Canadian and EU citizen living in central america. I bought a new car in Mexico, have mexican tags and insurance that has coverage for Mexico, Usa and Canada up to 100k USD (is this enough?). I am planning to drive up to Canada for a short visit, one month or maybe two. The confusion starts here.

I have a EU drivers license, haven´t been to Canada for 20 years. I know that my EU drivers license is valid in Canada (at least Ontario province) for a maximum of 2 months. Is this correct? Then the next question is if I can legally drive the mexican car as a canadian citizen with canadian passport but without a canadian drivers license a mexican plated car for a short period of time in Canada without facing any problems at the border or then inland? In the US it is quite clear with a valid insurance for the US. I appreciate any information also for the same questions regarding USA, but specifically Canada. Thanks.

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i don’t know that I have a complete answer but I do have some comments...

  • Your insurance is very low. $2 million is the current recommended best coverage in Canada.

  • You will need to convince the border agents that, even though you are Canadian (and you must enter as such) you are just visiting and not returning as a resident. If they think the latter then they will treat the car as if you’re importing it, and it will not meet Cdn standards. If you’re planning to work here, or if you have family or other ties, they could say you are returning and establishing residency. This could have tax implications, on top of the car complications.

  • If there’s one really odd thing that might stand out, it’s that your driver’s licence is not from the place you are currently resident. All the US states and Cdn provinces require that you get their DL within some weeks of establishing residency, and you are only supposed to have one valid license at a time. Does your current country of residence not require this?

  • No, my current country of residence does not require me to have only one driver license at a time. I can have as many I wish. My canadian friends who live here have a canadian driver license a panamanian driver license, a mexican driver license and even one from Honduras. However with my trip to Canada I wish to acquire a canadian driver license for sure. In Mexico you can drive a car with any driver license if you are a tourist which I am and bought my car as a tourist. The car should meet Cdn standards becasue is made in the USA and imported to Mexico. It will be interesting at the border. – Paul Mar 25 at 18:45
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You can drive on foreign insurance and registration as long as it is legal for you to do so. For Canada, as long as you are not taking up residency and your Mexican jurisdiction does not deem you to have given up residency, you will be fine. Not taking employment in Canada? You won't be a resident.

As for limits, all Canadian provinces and territories require a minimum of $200,000 Cdn of third party liability coverage with a combined single limit for both property damage and third party liability coverage, so $100,000 US will not suffice. You will also have to get a Canadian Interprovincial Motor Vehicle Liability certificate ("pink card", even though they are not always pink anymore) from your insurer to document that your insurance meets Canadian requirements.

You will have to check with the Mexican jurisdiction where you have registered your vehicle as to whether you can legally operate this vehicle outside of that Mexican state as a presumed non-resident of that state. If you are indeed a resident of that state, you probably ought to (and may need to) have a driver's license from that Mexican state.

  • Wow this looks complicated to me. So lets assume, I want to come for a month there after 20 years (last time I was there as a kid) get a canadian driver license and incorporate a business or sole proprietorship, then leave and not live in Canada that means I am becomming a resident? Even though I will not come back to Canada for 2,3,5 years? That also means I can´t own a car anywhere outside of Canada where I spend most of the time? This sucks big time. The insurance I have clearly states that is valid for Canada and the USA with the coverage I have paid extra for the purpose of travel to CAN. – Paul Mar 25 at 18:54
  • @Paul You can't get a Canadian provincial driver's license without becoming a resident. And your Mexican insurance may be valid whether you are a Mexican resident or not, but it also may not be valid except for residents, so it's worth checking to be sure. I have lived in Canada for half a century and never seen a Mexican-registered vehicle here (I've seen more from Germany - 2). It's very uncommon. Where are you a resident now? Whether opening a business here will make you a resident will depend on your living arrangements and immigration status. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 25 at 18:56
  • I am a resident in EU but living in central america as a tourist for the past couple of years. Traveling from Panama up to Mexico. Renting a car drained me financially so I bought a car as a foreigner down here and own it not as a canadian but EU citizen. I see everyday canadian cars here in the Yucatan from Onatrio, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, BC. I have seen some mexican cars back in the old days from Mexico in Toronto. Not a big deal, but usually snowbirds travel from Canada down here in their canadian cars. That is true. I am opposite and doing it from the south in summer. – Paul Mar 25 at 19:53

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