I recently accepted a 2-year contract in Vancouver (British Columbia). However, I will be splitting my time between Canada and the US. I have a residence in PA, as well as a driver's license and vehicle. My new employer has secured a condo for me in Vancouver, and I've been told that I need to surrender my US driver's license within 90 days as part of that leasing agreement (I need to obtain a BC driver's license). I am a US citizen.

I'm not actually staying in Canada long enough for permanent residency, and I intend to return to the US full-time once the contract is over. What can I do to be able to work, live and drive in both locations? Anything?

Thanks for your help!


  • 4
    Are you sure its part of a leasing agreement? IANAL but there is no law related to Landlord and Tenant which requires you to surrender your current license.
    – Dipen Shah
    Jun 5, 2017 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


The correct answer is to talk to ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the provincial motor vehicle insurer and regulator) and ask them if you need to change to a B.C. driver's license. If you do, then you've taken up B.C. residency and are no longer a US resident. (You would resume US residence when you go back.) A situation being temporary doesn't matter if the length of the situation is long enough. (Besides, one person's "temporary" might be a decade or more... and situations are prone to change. What happens if you say you are going for two years, but end up there another three or eight after that?)

The implications of not changing are not having insurance (for your vehicle, or for damage you cause to others [legal liability]), so it's important to get this right.

Also, if you have your US vehicle there, note that US auto insurance often has third party liability limits less than the provincial/territorial minimums in Canada (all but Quebec require minimum $200,000 Cdn of coverage; more is better; $1 million and more is quite common).

  • "No longer a US resident": residence is determined differently for different purposes. In particular, tax residency had very little to do with where one's driver's license is from. It's also conceivable that one could be a resident of both BC and a US state for the purpose of driver licensing under each respective jurisdiction's laws.
    – phoog
    Dec 27, 2017 at 1:13
  • @phoog That's complicated by the fact that even US citizens who are non-US residents pay tax, so residence isn't terribly important for US tax purposes. Dec 27, 2017 at 14:52
  • It's extremely important for those US citizens and other US persons who want to qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion.
    – phoog
    Dec 27, 2017 at 22:45
  • @JimMacKenzie, It is true that US citizens file US tax returns even if they are non-resident, but it isn't true they necessarily pay US taxes. The US-Canada tax treaty has a set of rules for determining the country of (tax-) residence and a US citizen will only pay tax (on world-wide income) in the country they reside in, so tax residence is as important for a US citizen as it would be for anyone else when they reside in Canada.
    – Dennis
    Dec 27, 2017 at 22:49

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