How to become a truck driver in Canada for foreigners?
Even if you’re a foreign truck driver who has experience and credentials from their home country, you generally have to have your credentials recognized by a provincial or territorial authority before you start driving a truck in Canada. We’ll go through the basic steps for someone who wants to move to Canada to become a truck driver.
The main difference here is that you have to be accepted through one of Canada’s immigration streams and that often means having a job offer waiting for you in Canada. Most foreigners interested in driving a truck will already have some experience. So, the question becomes whether you can get any of your credentials accepted in Canada.
Basic requirements for foreigners to drive truck in Canada
Remember, however, you will have to be accepted by Canadian immigration authorities under whatever stream you choose to apply. In view of this, the best way in is through a provincial nominee program (PNP), if one exists. For example:
- In BC you can apply through the Entry Level and Semi-Skilled category for work as a long-haul truck driver as a path to permanent residency. To qualify, you must:
- Have a full-time, permanent job offer
- Have been previously working for your employer for at least 9 consecutive months, which means you must already be in Canada on a temporary work permit.
- Be licensed or certified to do your job
- Earn a wage in line with existing provincial wage rates for that job
- Meet language (English proficiency) and education (secondary school completed) requirements
- Be able to support your family
- Have legal status in Canada
- To start, go to BCPNP Online to register and start creating your profile.
- In Alberta, the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) has several streams for workers. The Opportunity Stream is for foreign workers already living in Alberta, working full-time and with a permanent job offer from a qualified employer. You must also:
- Have a positive LMIA (Labor Market Impact Assessment) or an LMIA exemption
- Not be a refugee claimant
- Not be living in another province or territory
- Have valid temporary legal status in Canada
- Be an eligible occupation in Alberta – truck drivers are eligible. Taxi drivers and limousine drivers are ineligible according to the Alberta government.
- You’ll need CLB score of 4 in all English Language (or French) skills. This translates to: IELTS 4.5 for listening, 3.5 for reading, and 4.0 for speaking and writing.
- Have completed secondary education that is equivalent to Alberta high school levels along with an educational credential assessment (ECA) from a recognized Educational Credential Assessment Service Provider.
- Have a minimum of 12 months of work experience as a truck driver in Alberta in the last 18 months OR have a minimum of 24 months of work experience in Canada or abroad in the last 30 months.
- In Saskatchewan, the province’s Long-Haul Truck Drivers program offers you the possibility of permanent residence just like BC and Alberta but is a little easier on the requirements. You need to have worked as a full-time temporary foreign worker for just 6 months before applying for PR status once your company offers you a permanent full-time job. In addition, you must:
- Have a 1A Saskatchewan drivers license
- Have a permanent full-time job offer from an approved Saskatchewan employer
- Have a CLB English test of 4 or higher (See IELTS equivalent scores directly above in the Alberta program)
- Have a valid SINP (Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program) Job Approval Letter
- Go here to open an account with SINP Online and start the process.
- In Manitoba, employers looking to hire international workers as long-haul truck drivers must now meet some upgraded requirements, including:
- Obtain a positive LMIA within the last 12 months
- Have previously used Canada Job Bank to advertise the position at normal wages
- Comply with Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) as structured by Manitoba Public Insurance
- Hire international truck drivers from countries with standards similar to North America
- Comply with Manitoba’s Worker Recruitment and Protection Act (WRAPA)
- Prove to Manitoba’s Employer Services that the international truck driver has NOT had to pay to obtain their job at any point in the recruitment process
- Show a good record of hiring international truck drivers in the past
Truck drivers themselves in Manitoba must:
- Be between 21 and 50 years old
- Have worked a minimum of 3 years in a jurisdiction with similar standards to Manitoba
- Provide reference letters and other proof of employment
- Have a valid English test (like IELTS) with CLB 5 standards (this is tougher than BC, Alberta, or Saskatchewan)
- Be fully vetted in a video-conference video by the employer who wants to hire you
- Fully disclose any paid representative helping you at any point in the recruitment and immigration process.
In other words, Manitoba might not be your best first choice unless you feel you are up to their tougher standards.
- In Ontario, the In-Demand Skills stream allows foreign workers both in Ontario and abroad to apply for permanent residence. You need a job offer in Ontario and then you have to register with the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program’s OINP Expression of Interest System, an online portal. You provide your profile at the portal, obtain an Invitation to Apply and then apply for a nomination by the Ontario program. You then are screened by IRCC and hopefully, they approve your application for permanent resident as a truck driver in Ontario. Your job offer must:
- Full-time and permanent
- In an eligible occupation (transport truck drivers are eligible)
- Your job is NOT restricted to being outside the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) like some other occupations
- You must be paid the median wages level
- Your position must be urgently needed by your employer
- Your work must be based in Ontario
The truck driver in Ontario must:
- Have received an ITA from OINP
- Be qualified according to Canadian standards
- Have 9 months experience within the last 3 years
- Have or obtain a valid commercial driver license in Ontario
- Have CLB 4 language requirements as proved by a test like IELTS
- Have completed secondary school or its equivalent abroad and also provide an ECA (educational credential assessment)
Quebec and the Maritime provinces have programs with similar requirements aside from the obvious language requirements in Quebec (you must speak French).
*Please note that this research was completed in early 2023, and PNP programs change all the time. Do your own research before moving forward.
Step 1: Get a job offer in Canada.
You’ll need to find a company willing to hire you from abroad and ensure you meet their requirements. However, this won’t be quite as difficult as it might seem, given the overwhelming demand for truck drivers that are expected over the next decade as retiring drivers and a growing economy leaves many positions unfilled. Review the job requirements that provincial nominee programs are demanding. As long as you comply with these demands, you should be in good shape as far as any company’s requirements. Also remember to make sure you know what type of driver’s license you need – Generally Class 1 for longer tractor trailers or Semis and Class 3 for smaller straight-body trucks.
If you’ll be driving a truck with airbrakes, you’re going to need an airbrakes endorsement from the provincial regulatory authority. You’ll also need a TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods) certificate if you’ll be transporting things like hazardous materials or flammable products. However, these types of jobs usually require several years of experience in Canada, so it’s not likely you’ll start with these types of jobs.
Tip: Another option is to obtain a temporary work permit for simpler trucking jobs you can start with – like an urban delivery truck or a tow-truck, work for about a year and then try to obtain a full-time permanent job and begin the process of applying to a PNP or directly to Express Entry. Remember if you get a provincial nomination, your odds of getting accepted for permanent residence by IRCC go way up.
Step 2: Register with and apply through a provincial online portal.
Remember to take an English test – as you’ll be abroad, we suggest IELTS. See the above for the required scores. You’ll also need to get an ECA or educational credentials assessment for your secondary school. You’ll find more information on ECAs here.
Step 3: Apply to IRCC
With your provincial nomination in hand, you then apply to IRCC for permanent residence. As someone doing an in-demand occupation like truck driving, your odds should be pretty good to obtain your PR card.
Step 4: Pack your bags
Once you’re in Canada, you’re going to have to get your commercial driver’s license (Class 1/Class A in Ontario and Class 3/Class D in Ontario) as well as any certification or other licensing required by the province. Then you’ll literally be good to go. See our first FAQ below for more information on driver licenses from abroad.
Step 5: FAST card
A FAST (Free and Secure Trade) Card gives commercial drivers quicker access at USMCA borders – Canada/US & US/Mexico. You have to pass a pre-screening process which, once you’re approved, allows for simpler customs and immigration checks at the border.
Remember that there are 2 FAST Card programs – one for the Canada/US border and one for the US/Mexico border. If you’re also going to be driving in Mexico, you’ll need to apply for both cards, assuming you’re eligible to do so.
Canada/US FAST Card eligibility
Have Immigroup help you get your Fast Card, click here.
- Be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or the US
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a commercial driver’s license
- Be admissible to both Canada and the US (not have a criminal record)
- Some permanent residents may need a visa to enter Canada or the US – depending on their home country
US/Mexico FAST Card eligibility
- Be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, the US, or Mexico
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a commercial driver’s license
- Be admissible to the US (no criminal record)
- Some permanent residents may need a visa to enter the US or Mexico – depending on their home country
Go here for our guide on how to apply for a FAST Card.
Can I get a truck driving job in Canada, if I am still not licensed?
Some unethical operators might offer you a job without asking for a license, but this is rare and to be avoided. If anyone did and you accepted, it would be a great way to end up detained and deported should the police stop you for a traffic violation, for example. So, although it’s unlikely that anyone will offer you a job without a license, don’t accept any offer if they don’t ask for your license.
Truck driving schools overseas (meeting Canadian standards)
You will still need to take a training course and pass the examinations when you move to Canada. The only advantage is you might have more experience and knowledge than someone starting from scratch. However, bear in mind that every country – and every province/territory in Canada – has slightly or sometimes significantly different regulatory requirements. Always assume you’ll have to study for and take practical training in Canada to become a truck driver.
Can I get a visa sponsored as a truck driver in Canada?
Not exactly, but you can get a provincial nomination if you have a job offer and meet the other requirements. See How to Become a Truck Driver for foreigners above.