Driving & Car Ownership

Nova Scotia Driver’s Licence 

Visitors or newcomers who have a valid driver’s licence from another part of Canada, or from another country, can drive in Nova Scotia for up to 90 days without getting a Nova Scotia Driver’s Licence. After that, you need a Nova Scotia licence, which you can apply for here. You must be 16 years of age to get an initial learner’s permit.

Department of Motor Vehicles

The Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles is your go-to site for all regulations related to driving, owning a car and road safety.

Purchasing a Vehicle

There are several methods of purchasing a vehicle. Many car dealerships sell both new and used vehicles. You can obtain financing directly through the dealerships, or through a bank or credit union. A credit check will be required. Here is a list of some of the larger dealerships on the Island:

If considering purchasing a used vehicle, it’s suggested to contact a local mechanic to go with you to inspect the car prior to purchase. Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace are useful places to search for used cars available for purchase.

Automobile Insurance 

In Nova Scotia, every automobile used on public roadways must be insured. You must have coverage for third-party liability, accident benefits, and accidents caused by uninsured and unidentified motorists. You also have the option to purchase additional insurance coverage that would cover loss and damage to your car.

How much you pay for auto insurance will be based on many factors including your driving record, accident claims, where you live and how much you drive. The cost is also based on the specific coverages and deductibles you choose for your policy. If you buy optional coverages, you will pay more. Click here for more information.

Car Rentals

There are several car rental companies across the Island, including:

Rules of the Road

In Nova Scotia we drive on the right-hand side of the road. 

Signal lights are essential and need to be used prior to making all turns. It is not common in Nova Scotia to beep the horn when passing a vehicle in a passing lane. 

Speed limits are posted along all roads. Typically, the limit is 50 km/hour in communities; 80 km/hour on secondary roads and 100 – 110 km/hour on major highways. 

For specific laws and regulations related to driving, please view the Nova Scotia Government’s Rules of the Road handbook.


A Drivers’ Licence is the most commonly used and accepted piece of ID for Nova Scotians. If you do not have a driver’s licence, you may apply for a  Nova Scotian ID card, through your local Access Nova Scotia office.

Driving in Winter

If you plan to drive during the winter months, be sure to stay up-to-date on road conditions, plan ahead and prepare for the unexpected. Having a CAA membership or similar coverage for roadside assistance can be very beneficial especially when traveling in Cape Breton’s rural locations. Use this link to check out live road cameras all over Cape Breton: Nova Scotia Webcams – Cape Breton Island | Regions

Here are some things you’ll want to make sure you have in (or on) your vehicle in wintertime:

  • Good quality winter tires are essential
  • Warm clothing (including outerwear like a hat, gloves, and boots)
  • Shovel
  • Cat litter or sand (for traction when stuck on ice or snow)
  • Flashlight 
  • Booster cables 
  • Cell phone charger 
  • -20C windshield washer fluid
  • Windshield scraper
  • Hand warmers
  • Candles 
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Last Modified: October 1, 2021