- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Canada Guide (PDF)
Despite its large geographic size, getting around Canada is not difficult, thanks to an excellent transport system. The country has well-established road networks and an extensive railway system, as well as a large number of domestic airports – all of which contribute towards making travelling within Canada fairly straightforward.
Major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver all have efficient public transport networks and dedicated bike paths.
Public transport in Canada
The national passenger rail services in Canada are operated by VIA Rail, whose trains link most major Canadian cities and many smaller communities.
There are different classes of service on trains in Canada, but regardless of class, the overall quality of rail services is very high – the trains are neat and tidy, the seats are spacious and all passengers can access free WiFi.
Travelling by train costs more than a bus, but it's more comfortable. We recommend buying train tickets in advance as this is cheaper than buying them on the spot.
Bus services in Canada are also very good. Buses are clean, safe and reliable.
There are a number of service providers offering intercity bus transportation, with extensive networks across Canada and even extending into some parts of the United States.
Intercity buses may include onboard toilets, air conditioning, reclining seats and onboard movies, and some also offer free WiFi and electrical outlets located at each seat. Tickets can usually be purchased online, over the phone, at a bus terminal or via an agency.
Taxis in Canada
Most cities in Canada usually have several different taxi companies in operation, and they can either be hailed in the street, caught at a taxi rank or prebooked over the phone. Metered fares are usually regulated in cities and cannot be negotiated. Drivers generally expect a tip of between 10 and 15 percent. Taxi drivers in all major cities are required to carry official identification issued by the city.
Ride-hailing apps such as Uber are also operational in many parts of Canada.
Domestic air travel in Canada
Given the size of the country, air travel is definitely an option worth considering for expats living in Canada.
The Canadian airline industry is highly competitive. The leaders in the industry, such as Air Canada, are chased by rising low-cost airlines, including Sunwing Airlines and Swoop. Increased competition means that expats can often find great deals on domestic flights.
Cycling in Canada
Canadian towns and cities promote cycling as a means of transport and try to provide cyclists with the best possible riding conditions. Cycling is popular, and most cities and towns have hundreds of miles of dedicated bike paths.
Cyclists in Canada must follow the same rules and road regulations as other vehicles. Wearing a helmet is compulsory in most provinces. A bike is easy to acquire in all Canadian cities and towns regardless of the style or price range. Many of the larger Canadian cities have also implemented bike-sharing schemes which make cycling an even more convenient way to get around.
Driving in Canada
Driving is the most common means of transportation in Canada. Expats will be able to use their foreign driving licence for a few months, but they will ultimately have to exchange their licence for a Canadian one. This may either be a straight swap or a full driving test may be required.
Under Canadian law, all cars must be insured and must be registered with the person's provincial or territorial government. Insurance costs can vary across Canada, so expats should do some research before committing to any given insurance policy.
►To learn about expat money matters see Banking, Money and Taxes in Canada
Are you an expat living in Canada?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Canada. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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