Do you need a special license to drive a school bus in Canada?

In today’s article, we will discuss: Do you need a special license to drive a school bus in Canada? We will explain the law regarding driving a converted school bus in Canada and give you a few essential tips for insuring your converted vehicle. 

Do you need a special license to drive a school bus in Canada?

As a school bus driver, you will need a special licence to drive a Skoolie in Canada. The school bus driver must have a Class 2 license. A mechanic or representative in the field of buses has the right to drive this type of vehicle with a Class 5 license if there are no more than three passengers on board. 

On the other hand, if an individual buys a personal bus, he must also hold a Class 2 license, even if he removes all the benches inside. 

When it is converted into an RV, the Class 5 license is sufficient to drive a school bus in Canada and the vehicle no longer needs an annual inspection. This license will allow you to drive the following:

  • Skoolies
  • Trailers
  • Class B motorhome
  • Class A motorhome (without air brakes)
  • Class C motorhome
  • Fifth wheel trailer

Isn’t that all? Yes! Indeed, with your standard driver’s license, you can drive a Skoolie in Canada without special permits.

The exceptions: There are a few RVs that require a special permit. RVs with speed brakes need a special permit in order to be able to rent and drive them. Be sure to check with the tenant if this is the case.

If you are visiting Canada from abroad, that’s okay. Even with your international license, you are covered with our insurance as long as you have had your license for 8 years or more.

Driving a converted school bus in Canada: what the law says

Whether it is a caravan or Skoolie, the law provides for various obligations to be known and respected. In this regard, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) and its Contrôle Route Québec agency play a key role in ensuring compliance with established rules and safety on the roads. These organizations are also valuable sources of information and recommendations.

Here’s what you need to know in order to drive a school bus in Canada in accordance with the law:

  • Permits and registration: To drive a converted school bus, you must hold a class 5 passenger vehicle driver’s license. There is therefore no special license, which does not at all mean that the driving and the other rules are the same, as we will see later. To obtain your license, you must complete all the necessary administrative procedures. It is also mandatory to register your recreational vehicle.
  • Child seatbelts and car seats: Seatbelts are required for all Skoolie passengers. If you have small children, make sure you have car seats installed according to the law. Check the seat user guide to see if they are suitable for use in the type of RV you have. Also, check the manufacturer’s manual to be sure your RV is suitable for transporting children. When you go on an adventure, you want your whole little family to be safe!
  • When the Skoolie is in motion:  The fact that passengers must wear seat belts also means that it is obviously forbidden, when the vehicle is in motion, to walk, cook, lie down, use the toilet, etc. Take the time to stop your Skoolie when necessary to keep everyone safe. 

Great care is needed when riding. You never know: sometimes it is inevitable to make a somewhat abrupt manoeuvre, hence the need to be seated and properly strapped in at all times.

  • Safe transportation of objects and pets: In Canada, you are not allowed to be behind the wheel of your Skoolie or any other road vehicle if an animal, passenger or objects obstruct your field of vision or obstruct your driving. The SAAQ reiterates the importance of properly securing objects in the RV, in order to prevent them from becoming projectiles in the event of sudden manoeuvres or an accident. 

For pets, it is recommended to use a harness or a carrier secured with a seat belt. The installation of a safety net or barrier is also recommended.

  • Brakes and other checks: If you see the road sign that asks for the condition of the brakes to be checked, be aware that this obligation applies to you if the total mass (including load) of your combination of vehicles or your vehicle is 3,000 kg or more. 

These regulations require you to stop at the verification area advertised on the sign. If you do not respect it, a patroller could give you a fine ranging from $ 350 to $ 1,050. Either way, it’s in your best interest to do so, because it is for your safety and that of your passengers!

Before setting off, you must also comply with the rules covering various points to be checked concerning stowage, loads and dimensions, the transport of hazardous materials and mechanical condition:

  • Make sure lights and headlights are functional, matched stock, and unobstructed.
  • Check the condition of the tires, which must be designed to be used on the road, suitable for the type of vehicle and conform to wear standards.
  • Make sure your mirrors are secure and allow you to see behind.
  • Make sure that the load does not interfere with your field of vision, nor with the driving, nor with the stability of the vehicle.
  • Check the correct operation of the coupling device and its installation, which must follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the trailer does not have an independent braking system, you must install a safety device (chains, cables, etc.) strong enough to keep the trailer tied to the towing vehicle in the event of the hitch system breaking.
  • If the width of one of the vehicles exceeds two meters, then you need emergency equipment. You have the choice: three reflective triangles or three flares.

For more details, refer to the leaflet provided by Contrôle Route Québec, whose mandate is to see in particular the application of the laws and regulations governing the road transport of people and goods. There you will find practical explanations and enlightening examples of the rules to follow when driving a converted school bus. An essential source of information!

Do I need to insure a school bus in Canada?

Yes, if driving a converted school bus in Canada you must make sure you have insurance. Despite all your knowledge and good driving habits, unfortunately, you are never safe from an accident. That’s why you also need the right insurance tailored to your needs. No matter what type of RV you have, it is essential to protect it properly.

Note that liability insurance is compulsory for all owners of road vehicles. This warranty covers damage caused to another person by your RV. Basic coverage also includes insurance against damage to your vehicle. There are also additional protections.

For example, in terms of extended RV insurance, some companies offer special deals, which includes a set of interesting protections for RV enthusiasts, in particular, compensation without depreciation for vehicles less than 10 years old and coverage for up to 10 years. 

The bottom line

Now that you are well informed about RV insurance, the rules to follow to drive a school bus as well as the skills and knowledge to acquire, you are ready to realize your dream of enjoying a Skoolie trip in Canada in complete safety. We wish you many great travels!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on Do you need a special license to drive a school bus in Canada?

Do you need a special license to drive an RV in Canada?

No, you do not need a special licence to drive an RV in Canada. In fact, you just need to have a valid regular driver’s license from your home country to rent an RV in Canada.

How to get a temporary driver’s license in Canada?

To obtain a temporary driver’s licence you must make an appointment by phone before going to an SAAQ service centre. An automated telephone service allows future drivers to make an appointment for a driving test themselves.

Is learning to drive a school bus hard?

Learning to drive a school bus is not as hard as it may seem, but of course, you must be aware of your Skollies’ dimensions, power and capacities. Good Skoolie drivers look into the distance, anticipate situations, act without delay and demonstrate prevention while driving.

What is the minimum age to rent an RV in Canada?

The minimum age for renting and driving an RV in Canada varies from one supplier to another, between 21 and 25 years old.

When to travel in an RV in Canada?

The season of RV travel is always shorter than the season of road trips when we often sleep in hotels, inns or lodges. Obviously, cool nights are cooler when camping. Even if you have a good heating system, it is less pleasant to go RVing when it’s cold. In addition, campsites are often closed in the low season.

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