Motorcycle Travel Guide: Canada

Welcome to Canada! This motorcycle travel guide explains everything you need to know about motorcycle touring and riding in Canada from paperwork to routes, the best roads, shipping and so much more. This article will help you get the most out of your biking adventures there.

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Contents

Motorcycle Travel Guide Canada

Welcome to Canada! (that’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot when you ride here). Canadians are so friendly, but it’s not just the warm welcome that pulls you in, Canada is an epic place to ride a motorcycle. It’s gargantuan (the second largest country in the world) and brimming with jaw dropping nature.

You’ll find glaciers, ice fields, pristine forests, wildlife, sparkling turquoise rivers, rugged, raw and remote lands and insanely fun riding through it all.

This guide will help you motorcycle travel in Canada. Our articles are focused on round the world motorcycle riders using their own motorcycles, so you’ll find info on shipping and import information, but the info included will also be handy for those flying in to rent a bike, join a tour or riding in across the border from the States. However you do it, you’ll love riding in Canada.

Paperwork for motorcycle travel in Canada

Canada is a relatively easy country to travel to with a foreign registered motorcycle. A lot of countries are entitled to visa free travel and carnets are not required if bringing in a foreign motorcycle. Read on for more info.

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Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Visas

Brits, as well as citizens from 54 other countries, can stay in Canada for up to six months visa free by applying for an eTA online. It’s a quick and easy online application. To see what visa requirement your citizenship has with Canada, have a look at this visa policy page.

Driver’s licence

To ride a foreign motorcycle in Canada you need a valid motorcycle licence. You also need an International Driver’s Permit to translate your licence to both English and French. The IDP needed is the 1949 convention for Canada and both licences should be carried with you while riding at all times.  

Motorcycle insurance

You must have motorcycle insurance to legally ride on the roads in Canada. We purchased insurance for the USA, which also covered us while riding in Canada.

We used an agent based in Illinois who arranged the insurance with Progressive. He did an excellent job for us and we were very impressed with his services. Here’s the contact details.

  • Company: MJ Integrity Group
  • Name: Mark Matgous
  • Number: 708 636 2241
  • Email: mark@mjintegrity.com

Personal travel insurance

Personal motorcycle travel insurance is important wherever you travel. Make sure your policy covers you to ride a motorcycle in Canada – and the type of motorcycle you want to ride too as a lot of policies only cover 125cc bikes. For more info on travel insurance, have a read of this guide.

READ MORE: Motorcycle Travel Insurance Explained

Temporary import / Carnet

You do not need a Carnet de Passage to take a foreign motorcycle into Canada.

READ MORE: Carnet Explained

Adventure Motorcycle Travel in Canada Ice Fields Parkway

How to get in and out of Canada with a motorcycle

Land borders

If you’re riding into Canada across a land border then it’s going to either be from the USA below or Alaska, USA above. So either way, you’ll be crossing from the States into Canada. There are multiple border points spread across the country and land border entry is a simple process. The only thing to remember here is that it’s worth going for smaller borders as they’re less busy, but note that they do close early, so check the times in advance.

Flights

When flying in, it’s likely you’ll find the cheapest and easiest flights are to Vancouver if flying in to the west coast and Montreal on the east coast. We recommend checking skyscanner.net for the best prices. When selecting dates, click ‘Flexible dates’ and view by ‘whole month’, this shows you the cheapest prices that month to fly in and out.

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Shipping a motorcycle to Canada

Shipping a motorcycle to Canada isn’t a complicated process. The easiest way is to fly your bike there but there are sea freight options available too.

It’s advisable to use an agent when shipping to Canada in order to sort entry paperwork. You will need an agent in the country you are sending the bike from to help sort the paperwork required prior to your motorcycle arriving.

There is one very important thing to note here. Typically, you are only given 24 hours free storage from the moment your bike arrives. From then on, you may have to pay up to £200 per day until your bike has been collected.

Customs are usually closed on weekends and so you wouldn’t be able to release your bike during that time. If you’re past the 24 hours that would be an extra £400 for the weekend for example, so make sure you are in Canada and staying near the depot so you are ready to immediately retrieve your motorcycle. Speak to your shipping company for more information on this.

We used Moto Freight in the UK to ship our motorcycle to from London to Vancouver. You’ll find their info on the UK Motorcycle Shipping Companies page.

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Motorcycle Shipping UK to Canada

Shipping a motorcycle from Canada

If you want to ship your motorcycle out of Canada back to your home country or onto your next destination, that is possible to do from both the west and east coasts.

Get in touch with allcargoexpress.com. You’ll find more info on them in our Canada shipping page below and a reader’s experience using them between Canada and Ecuador.

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Renting a motorcycle or joining a tour in Canada

Canada is a fantastic country to rent a motorcycle or join an organised bike tour. We first rode in Canada back in 2013 by flying in for a friend’s wedding and renting a BMW R1200GS for two weeks before the big day – that’s when we really fell in love with the country.

It’s so easy to rent and so easy to ride around. There are brilliant must do routes and you’ll love it.

We have a dedicated guide on how to rent a motorcycle in Canada and we also have recommended rental and tour companies in the below pages.

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Canada Motorcycle Rental

Buying a motorcycle in Canada

Buying a motorcycle in Canada is an alternative to shipping your own or renting. It’s a tried and proven method for long distance and long-term motorcycle travellers. You don’t have the expense of a long-term rental and you don’t have to worry about the paperwork, temporary importation and shipping of your own motorcycle.

It’s relatively easy to buy a bike, and it’s completely possible to do as a foreigner. If you’re interested in this option, have a read of this dedicated guide.

READ MORE: How to Buy a Motorcycle in Canada as a Foreigner

When to motorcycle travel in Canada

If you’re going to be riding in western Canada, the best riding weather (especially for the Icefields Parkway), the best time is between June and September. You’ve got longer days, good weather and pretty colours during this time.

If you’re riding in the east (especially for Newfoundland), then you’ve got an extra month from June to October. August is known for the warmest and driest weather, but September and October are also great riding months too.

Bear in mind, whichever side you go, August is a busy time of year meaning the roads and hotels will be busier.

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Accommodation

Canada is not especially cheap and accommodation can be quite expensive – especially in touristy areas. Here’s our rundown.

Hotels

There are budget style hotel and motel rooms throughout Canada, but in general, hotels and accommodation are expensive. You’ll find better deals outside of peak season and it depends on location and time of year. Booking.com is a good website for finding accommodation in towns and cities. It’s always recommended to book in advance, especially in bigger cities and popular tourist spots like along the Icefields Parkway.  

Here’s a Booking.com link to Vancouver so you can quickly gauge the current type of prices in and around the area.

AirBnB

AirBnB is also a good option and we used it often on our ride through Canada. On occasion we even found it cheaper than local hotels. With some luck and in the right season, you can find some excellent deals. Booking in advance helps and it often makes a difference if you’re travelling with other people to help bring costs down. You can find even better deals if you want to rent a place out for a longer period of time and have it as a base too.

Bunk a Biker

Try out the Bunk a Biker network. It’s a brilliant and free resource for motorcycle travellers and we stayed with some amazing people using this while riding through Canada. However, it’s nowhere near as popular in Canada as it is in the US. Here’s the link: zeemaps.com/bunk-a-biker.

Motorcycle camping in Canada

You can easily camp with your motorcycle in Canada. Camping is a big deal in Canada and you’ll find campsites all over the country. These are often very well kept with excellent facilities and are quite well priced too.

Wild camping is also allowed, but there are different rules for each province. For example, in some provinces you cannot wild camp in National Parks, so check in advance in each province and make sure you are allowed to free camp there before setting up or you could face a fine. 

In British Columbia, where we have spent most of our motorcycle travels in Canada, you’ll find plenty of ‘Recreation Sites’ (formerly known as ‘Forest sites’) and ‘BC Hydro’ sites that offer free camping (sometimes they require a small fee). These sites are excellent. They’re often basic with pit toilets, but are clean and well maintained and are usually in beautiful locations.

We highly recommend downloading the WikiCamps app. You’ll find loads of camp sites on there with information on whether they’re free sites or paid for, reviews, pictures, prices and additional info. We used it all the time and it made our lives so much easier. The app is about £3.00, and so worth it.

The iOverlander app is free and another great tool for finding campsites and wild camping locations, but not as effective as WikiCamps. We recommend downloading both.

See the safety section below for information on bears.

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Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Safety for motorcycle travellers in Canada

Canada is an exceptionally safe country to travel through. It was even named safest country in the world for 2024!

But of course, you should still keep your wits about you as there is still crime – especially in big cities so take standard precautions when travelling.

One of your biggest safety concerns in Canada is when you are camping or hiking in bear territory. Wild animals are dangerous – especially bears.

You should follow all precautionary measures laid out by provincial governments. The Alberta Gov website has a great and in-depth article on dealing with bears and there’s a shorter version on the Parks Canada website.

Here are some quick-fire tips that we followed:

  • Buy bear spray from a hunting shop before camping and making sure it’s always easily and quickly accessible.
  • Do not cook or prepare food near your tent.
  • Use bear boxes where provided. If you are wild camping and there are no bear boxes, put all your food and items that smell in a bear bag and hoist it up a tree far away from your campsite.
  • Don’t keep anything in your tent that smells – that means no food or drink, but also no toothpaste or deodorants etc.
  • If you need to use the loo when wild camping, don’t go close by your tent, bears are even attracted to that scent. Use a flash light and don’t try and be quiet, make your presence known.
Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Safety on the road

As mentioned earlier, Canada is the second largest country in the world. It’s expansive, and there are very remote areas you might want to ride through. So make sure you carry fuel, food and water.

But also, if you are venturing off the beaten track and tackling off-road routes, you may not find or come across other people for long stretches. So, it’s always worth carrying an emergency device in case you run into trouble. And make sure you have travel insurance in place before you go that covers you to ride a motorcycle.

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Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

What’s motorcycling in Canada like?

We first rode in Canada back in 2013 for two weeks and loved it. And in 2023 we spent a couple of months exploring the west of Canada on our motorcycles as part of our round the world trip and fell in love with the country all over again. Here’s our motorcycle travel blog from 2023 and a story on our ride from 2013 to give you a taste of what it’s like riding in Canada.

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riding a motorbike in canadian rockies

The best motorcycle rides in Canada

You’ve primarily got the east and west of Canada. The middle is flat, full of prairies and not particularly fun for motorcycle travellers.

On the west coast, you’ve got a lot to play with. The Rockies especially make for an incredible riding region. But you’ve got brilliant routes much closer to Vancouver as close as Lillooet. Vancouver Island is also fantastic for riding. The further north you go, the straighter the roads get.

On the west coast, the best riding is restricted to the rugged and wild Newfoundland.

We have dedicated articles on these routes and roads in Canada. So, we won’t repeat the whole lot again. Instead check out the guides below for more detailed info.

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Adventure riding gear for Canada

Canada’s weather is extremely dependent on the time of year. In winter, roads are closed due to freezing temperatures and heavy snow fall. And in the height of summer, we rode through 46C! So, what adventure motorcycle riding gear you take completely depends on when you’re riding.

Either way, make sure you take warm clothing and a compressible down jacket as some areas can get chilly quickly and ensure your riding suit is fully waterproof if you’re riding in the colder shoulder season. Two pairs of gloves are always a good idea too (one warm and waterproof pair and one lightweight summer pair). While for summer riders, lightweight and mesh jackets with removable waterproof liners work best.

For more info on riding gear, check out the below section for all our guides.

READ MORE: Adventure Bike Riding Gear Guides

Top tips for motorcycle travel in Canada

Mobile data

We recommend using the Airalo app to download an eSIM onto your mobile phone for Canada. This way, you can get mobile data on your phone ready for when you land in the country. You can find more info here: airalo.com

Book in advance

Accommodation can get booked up fast – especially in peak seasons. If you are going at a busy time, then make sure you book early.

Join Facebook groups

There are some great Canada Facebook groups out there and we recommend joining them. Join a group, introduce yourself and post your route. You’ll be surprised at the helpful suggestions.

Set a lot of time aside

Canada is huge and there are so many incredible roads and off-road trails to ride. Make sure you have plenty of time to ride to the place you want to visit because the distances are deceptive and everything takes longer due to the size.  

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Read more on motorcycle travel in Canada

Thanks for checking out the Motorcycle Travel Guide: Canada. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel in Canada that we recommend you read next. 

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Are you planning a motorcycle trip in Canada? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. 

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