If you are a Tour Operator or Coach Operator travelling to Canada, you must be prepared before leaving.  Our team has prepared the following tips to help you with your trips and to ensure there are no surprises at the borders or during your visit to Canada.

1. Know about Canadian Driver Hours of Service

It is important to know that Canadian Hours of Service Rules differ from those in the United States. For your safety and that of other road users, your motor coach driver’s hours of service are strictly regulated by Federal and Provincial laws. These laws limit the number of hours a driver can drive in a day, the length of a work shift, and the number of work hours a driver can accumulate over a multi-day period.

These are the rules for Canada:

  • Your driver can drive up to 13 hours in a 24-hour day.
  • Your driver must not exceed 14 hours on duty in a 24-hour day.
  • Your driver must be off duty for a minimum of 10 hours in a 24-hour day.
  • Your driver cannot drive after 16 hours have elapsed since the driver started his or her work shift (regardless of the number of on-duty hours). Example: If your driver begins his/her work shift at 6:00 a.m., he/she cannot drive after 10:00 p.m. and must take at least 8 hours off-duty before driving again.
  • Your driver cannot begin a new work shift without first taking at least 8 consecutive hours off-duty.
  • Your driver may work up to 70 hours in any period of 7 days (which includes driving and non-driving duties). Also, the driver must have at least one 24-hour break in the preceding 14 days.

What could happen if these limits are exceeded? Your driver, the company and you can be charged and fined, threatening the bus company’s operating privileges and your pocketbook. Plus, your driver can be placed “out of service” at a roadside inspection for up to 72 hours.

How would anyone find out? Your driver’s log can be examined at any time during a trip by police or government transportation enforcement officers and you will need to carry 14 days worth of logs whenever you operate in Canada. Audits of driver and company records at the bus company’s premises will detect hours of service violations and with the use of electronic logs enforcement of these regulations will be even more effective.

Reminder, the Hours-of-Service rules of the country within whose borders you are currently operating are the rules that apply. So, please don’t ask your driver to break the law by exceeding these limits. After all, the safety of your staff and group is our number one priority!

2. Use of Approved Electronic Log Devices (ELDs) is Mandatory

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are equipment that automatically records driving time in commercial motor vehicles. This helps make sure that drivers are compliant with hours-of-service regulations resulting in reduced fatigue for drivers, improved administrative efficiency and safer roads in Canada. Information on testing and certification of ELDs, plus updates on regulatory requirements that apply to roadside enforcement, can be found here:

3. Crossing the Canadian Border is Easy

The most important tip is the make sure you and your group are carrying proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you to help confirm your legal right to enter Canada. One passenger can hold up your group so please ensure that you understand what level of authorization you need to visit, do business or transit through Canada.

Required Documentation

Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry proof of citizenship and identity. A valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card satisfies these requirements for U.S. citizens.

Children under 16 only need proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a passport, birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, or a Certificate of Indian Status along with photo identification.

Additional Documentation Requirement

If you are a U.S. permanent resident, ensure you also carry proof of your status such as a U.S. Permanent Resident Card. In addition to your ID, you will need the proper travel documentation, this includes valid Passports and for some countries a visitor Visa or Electronic Travel Authorizations.

Children travelling without parents, or with only one parent, should have a consent letter showing that both parents are aware of the travel. If travelling with a group of minor students, the adult who is guiding the trip should have written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the child. The permission letter should include addresses and telephone numbers where the parents or legal guardians can be reached.

Remember all international travellers must carry acceptable identification and a valid visa (if necessary) when entering Canada. A passport is recommended because it is the only reliable and universally accepted travel and identification document for international travel. For questions about travel to Canada contact the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Another useful tool is the U.S. to Canada Border Wait Times website. This can help you ascertain the estimated wait times for crossing the Canada-United States land border at certain locations.

4. Proper Motor Coach Licencing

Certain Provinces within Canada require U.S. Motor Coach Operators to register their vehicles so they can legally operate within provinces in Canada.  These requirements are similar to the U.S. Department of Transportation where Canadian Operators must have a U.S. DOT registration to operate tours and trips to the U.S.  This all helps to ensure that we have safe operators on our streets and highways. 

For example, to operate a bus in the province of Quebec, operators must register with the Government of Quebec: Registration in the register of owners and operators of heavy vehicles – SAAQ (gouv.qc.ca). In Ontario, U.S. Operators must register to obtain a Commercial Vehicle Operating Registration (CVOR): find out how to register here at U.S. Carriers’ CMVs Operating in Ontario (07/2017) | FMCSA (dot.gov).

A full list of provincial registration requirements for commercial passenger vehicles can be found at https://www.motorcoachcanada.com/about-the-industry/provincial-registration-requirements/.

5. Visiting a Canadian Park? Please get a pass.

Canada’s national parks, national marine conservation areas, and national historic sites are the ultimate awe-inspiring experience. There are 37 national parks, and 10 national park reserves in Canada that represent 31 of Canada’s 39 terrestrial natural regions and protect approximately 336,343 square kilometres of Canada’s lands. These wilderness havens, located in every province and territory, range from mountains and plains to boreal forests and tundra, to lakes and glaciers, and much more.

Remember – All National and Provincial Parks require park passes for motor coaches. It’s important to understand which pass is required (National Park or Provincial) Here are a few links that could help you ensure your groups have the proper passes:

6. Don’t forget the Health Insurance

Canada does not pay for hospital or medical services for its visitors. Your guests, drivers and staff should have proper health insurance to cover any medical costs before they enter Canada. In fact, for some visitors, evidence of insurance is part of the entry process. Please reference the Government of Canada site for more information about health insurance and other visitor-related links: https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=424&top=16

7. Enjoy the Exchange Rates

The currency exchange rate tells you how much your US money is worth in the Canadian currency. When you exchange your money, you are buying or selling foreign currency at a specific price. You can find the official exchange by using the Bank of Canada’s online currency converter. It pays to know your options when dealing with foreign exchange rates. There are a few ways to manage your finances when you are abroad that will save you a lot of money in exchange fees. American travellers coming to Canada have the advantage of high exchange rates, so your dollar is worth a lot more in Canada.

8. Stay Connected and Enjoy Canada

Remember – Member or not, Motor Coach Canada is here to help you will stay connected with everything related to Tourism and Provincial and Federal regulations.  For more information please feel free to connect with us at info@motorcoachcanada.com.