Benefits for France
France has licence exchange agreements with a large number of countries, which is a wonderful way to remove bureaucratic barriers for current French residents who wish to live and work abroad with minimal hassle, as well as for new residents in France who wish to be able to operate motor vehicles that they are already qualified to operate in another jurisdiction.
Alberta has a highly-developed transportation network, and all new vehicle operators must obtain their licence through the Graduated Driver Licensing program, based on a thorough education and testing system. As a result, Alberta’s requirements to obtain a motorcycle licence meet or exceed the requirements from many other jurisdictions with which France exchanges motorcycle licences, especially in the United States.
Although France does allow foreign motorists a ‘grace period’ to exchange their licences, insurance companies do not often insure motorists with foreign licences, causing the purchase/insurance of a vehicle before receiving a local licence to be very difficult. In addition, obtaining a motorcycle licence in France can be quite expensive. Extending the current reciprocal licensing agreement with Alberta to include motorcycle licences would improve mobility between the two regions and eliminate issues faced by holders of Alberta motorcycle licences, who make up about ten percent of holders of Alberta licences. See: Number of motorcycle licences vs. All licences.
Benefits for Alberta
It is clear from the number of reciprocal licensing agreements to which Alberta is party that the province is interested in only honouring licences from jurisdictions with driver licensing standards and road safety that meet or exceed Alberta’s own standards. This is a prudent measure.
However, European motorcycle (and automobile) licensing is known to be some of the most rigorous in the world, and France’s requirements of their drivers are not an exception to that reputation. French motorists are required to take part in lengthy and thorough education programs prior to receiving their licences, and even then, motorcyclists must pass through several stages of licensing. For this reason, it seems that Alberta should have no objection to extending their agreement with France to include motorcycle licences, as it has with Switzerland and parts of the United Kingdom.
It’s certainly not detrimental to Albertan motorists to allow highly experienced motorcyclists, trained extensively in challenging European rider education programs, to exchange their licences for Albertan licences. Furthermore, an agreement would mean that Albertans returning from an extended period abroad with a French motorcycle licence, whether that licence was obtained in Alberta or France, would not be required to undergo the licensing process a second time in Alberta, as they might have to otherwise.
It is not necessary to argue the benefits of reciprocal licensing agreements to either government, as the governments of both France and Alberta have made a point of pursuing these agreements, though to much different extents. The benefits are clear, bringing a reduction of bureaucratic hurdles for people to move with ease between the jurisdictions, and improving commercial links.
In addition to the standard movement of skilled personnel and retirees between the two jurisdictions, it is important to note that Canada and France maintain a youth mobility agreement that allows French and Canadian citizens up to 35 years of age to work in each others’ countries for 12-month periods that can potentially be renewed for as long as three years, or longer if a job offer is eligible for a work visa. Given that these two countries have made a point of allowing citizens to move with relative ease, is it not incumbent on the relevant governments to allow for the driver’s licence, often a critical asset in one’s personal life and career, to also transferred as easily and completely as possible?
See the Immigration Statistics page to find out the large (and increasing) number of people who could benefit from this agreement on an ongoing basis!