MONTREAL – For nationals of Korea, Japan and Taiwan, and for most European citizens living permanently in Canada, their national driving license is automatically recognized and its conversion to a Canadian one is a simple process, but not for Greek drivers.
The Greek driving license is not recognized in Canada and its holders, irrespective of their age, must begin the whole process from scratch, by taking the written examinations and driving tests. The only requirement Greek drivers can skip when applying for a Canadian driver’s license is the compulsory driving instruction at recognized driving schools.
Most of the approximately 7,000 new immigrants who have settled in Quebec province – most notably in Montreal – from 2011 onwards, are surprised to learn that their Greek driving license is essentially invalid in that part of Canada and also across the country.
Some of them a few weeks ago complained to the Greek Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, but the reply offered no information, nor did it refer to any possible initiative to solve the problem.
In a document of the General Secretariat of Infrastructure and Transport (Driver and Driving License Section) under the number A1 / 24305/3029, acquired by The National Herald, it is noted that:
“Canada is not a member of the European Union and there is no agreement on mutual recognition of driving licenses with Greece. There is unilateral recognition by Greece for the conversion of driving licenses issued by Canada to a corresponding category of driving licenses in accordance with the provisions of Joint Ministerial Decision 24058/2653/2004 (B’1119).”
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport urges stakeholders “to contact the competent authorities of Canada” for more information.
The document is signed by the Head of the Department, Athanasios Klentos. It is obvious that the lack of a “mutual recognition agreement” does not depend on the ministry’s political power, but for the thousands of young people forced to immigrate to Canada, it is still a problem.
Getting a driving license in Quebec is a considerable expense, and besides, it requires a long wait until available dates for written and driving tests are available, especially in the spring and summer.
In a small survey by TNH, on the Canadian government’s job search site and on private websites, it has turned out that many of the jobs available – mostly unskilled laborers – include as a necessary qualification a valid driver’s license. And, in addition, a large number of jobs are in areas outside of Montreal, which are not served by the metro or frequent bus services.
Please note that for most European countries (Austria, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Northern Ireland, etc.) there is a mutual agreement on mutual recognition of driving licenses with Canada.