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I'm an Indian citizen, and I am planning to travel to Canada from USA by land through my personal car. However my USA driving license is expired, and the DMV is not allowing me extend in my current DL.

FYI: I entered USA through F1 Student visa in 2016 and got my DL and car in 2019. My F1 Visa expired on 06/2021 along with the DL. I am currently in my visitor visa(I didn't the visa yet, but I have the visitor visa application receipt)

Will I be facing any obstacles while crossing the border with an expired USA license(or with an Indian license)?

TIA

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    Do you have a Canadian visa? Are you planning to go back to the US (your change of status application will be cancelled after your exit from the US)? Are you driving legally in the US?
    – xngtng
    Aug 27 at 22:53
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    @xngtng I think you should write an answer. Would automatic revalidation apply if the trip is delayed until after the approval of the change of status? I believe that I read a regulation some time ago that said that it does (counterintuitively given the name), but I don't have time to look for it now.
    – phoog
    Aug 27 at 23:22
  • @phoog I believe so, but Covid land border rules may be a problem for a visitor.
    – xngtng
    Aug 27 at 23:51
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Canadian (or US) border agents do not usually check your driver's licence (unless you are travelling on an EDL as an American/Canadian citizen).

However, driving on an expired licence may be illegal in the U.S. for you. Police checks can happen independently to immigration and customs checks, and your insurance coverage may be invalidated.

In Canada, if you are a temporary visitor who has only been in the country for a short time, you are usually able to use a valid foreign licence to drive a standard car (from U.S. or India, as long as it is not expired) (but provincial rules differ in details).


Immigration-wise, you need a valid Canadian visa and qualify for one of the exceptions to the current travel restrictions.

Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for the fully vaccinated exception to the current Canadian border restrictions. From September 7, 2021 (subject to change, of course), the Canadian government intends to allow all fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter for discretionary purposes. If you do not qualify for such exceptions, you will not be allowed entry into Canada.

If you plan to drive back to the U.S., note that a border restriction remains in place for Canada-US land borders until at earliest September 21, 2021. If you do not qualify for "essential travel", e.g. as a visitor, your entry could be denied. If you leave U.S. before your status change is approved, your application will be cancelled and you may not be able to return to the U.S. without a new visa if you have no valid status.

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  • Isn't the essential travel requirement being dropped next month?
    – phoog
    Aug 28 at 0:44
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    @phoog While Canada has already dropped the requirement a couple weeks ago, U.S. extended it (in the Canada->US direction) to at least Sept. 21. I am not sure if it will be dropped next month (since reasons for U.S. travel restrictions are not really logically coherent as a whole) (or maybe I just misssed the news about dropping it😅.) But I'll edit to add the information, thanks.
    – xngtng
    Aug 28 at 9:45
  • There’s little logic: you can fly from Toronto to Detroit but you can’t drive. At least Canada has (belatedly) removed the illogical distinction between land crossing and air crossing. Sep 5 at 1:49
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You have two separate concerns:

  1. Immigration. Canada will want to see a valid passport and Canadian visa. They don't care about your driving license. Likewise the US wants to see you're eligible for re-entry on the way back, which in turn depends on your current I-94 status and other documents, but not the driving license. If you want an answer related to whether or not US immigration will allow you to come back, please ask a separate question on Expats.SE. Source: I drove around 15 times across the Canadian border.
  2. Driving. Its illegal to operate a motor vehicle without a valid license. This has to be either a valid local license or a foreign valid license. If you don't have either, you're not allowed to drive. Even if this is not being enforced by the border authorities, you could still be stopped by the police in either country.
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  • Do you have experience driving across the US-Canada border without having your driver's license checked?
    – phoog
    Aug 28 at 0:44
  • @phoog yes, many times. Edited this in.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 28 at 1:05
  • I really don't remember very clearly, but I think they checked my driver's license at least once (not counting the first time, when I know they checked my license because it was the only ID I had with me). It may be a small probability, but the consequences if they do decide to check for some reason could be quite severe.
    – phoog
    Aug 28 at 1:11
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    @phoog I imagine if border control does ask you, the worst they'll do is make you turn around. Its a lot worse if you're stopped by the police as they will probably impound the car unless you have a second driver present.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 28 at 1:14
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    I find it difficult to believe that a CBP or CBSA immigration officer would knowingly do anything other than call the police if they somehow learned that someone was driving without a valid license.
    – phoog
    Aug 28 at 10:30

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