There are No Logical Obstacles – Let’s Do It!

Why didn’t it happen in 2008?

Given that France has entered into exchange agreements with so many jurisdictions, almost all of which include motorcycle licences, it seems odd that an exchange agreement with Alberta would be limited to only private passenger vehicles (cars).  However, in correspondence between myself and the Alberta government, it was indicated that the agreement to exchange private passenger vehicle licences with France was signed in 2008.  According to this bulletin from the Government of Alberta, motorcycle tests taken before 2009 were not required to be taken on the road instead of on a closed course, and this may have been a factor in France not wanting to include motorcycle licences in the agreement (although that doesn’t seem to be reasonable – see the next section).  Given that this situation changed almost a decade ago when on-road tests became mandatory, at which time the length of the test was also expanded by 50 percent, it might be in the governments’ interests to investigate extending the licence exchange agreement to include motorcycle licences, as has happened with several other Canadian jurisdictions in the last several years.

It would be very odd if the lack of an on-road test was the reason for the exclusion of motorcycle licences in the exchange agreement, seeing as other jurisdictions still have much lower requirements that involve waiving road tests when a rider education course is taken, yet these jurisdictions are able to exchange their motorcycle licences with France.  Read on for details!

Why are other jurisdictions with lesser requirements able to include motorcycle licences in their agreements with France?

It turns out that many of the other jurisdictions in the United States and Canada with which France will exchange licences have less- or equally-strenuous requirements for motorcycle licensing in comparison to requirements in Alberta.  Examples include South Carolina,  Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa, MichiganOklahoma, Kansas, and West Virginia.  Not a single one of these states has a Graduated Driver Licensing program that applies to motorcycle licences, whereas Alberta does, and every one of these states allows the on-road skills test to be waived if a rider training program is attended, an exemption that Alberta eliminated in 2009 to align with the safety standards of other Canadian provinces.

When I connected with the Government of Alberta regarding this matter, I received the following response:  link to source

“Most reciprocal agreements that Alberta has signed do not include motorcycle operator licences, as you noted. This has happened in large part because an Alberta Class 6 licence holder can operate any size and type of motorcycle. Many jurisdictions limit riders by type, size and engine displacement and adhere to a progressive motorcycle licensing structure. Because those licence categories do not correspond to Alberta classifications, it is not possible to reciprocate licences in that class.”

Alberta’s agreements with Switzerland and Northern Ireland – which have nearly-identical ‘progressive motorcycle licensing structures’ to France due to harmonisation on vehicle licences within the European Union’s sphere of influence – both include  Class 6 licences.  They acknowledge the different licence classes in these other jurisdictions, and choose to equate any A-type licence (A1, A2, or A) with the Alberta Class 6 licence, and vice versa.

Given that many of these other jurisdictions have even more lax motorcycle licensing regulations than Alberta (and let’s not forget the many third-world countries with which France will exchange ALL licence types), and do not include the progressive licensing structures referenced by Alberta, the answer from the Alberta government ‘does not compute.’


In summary:

  • Alberta’s motorcycle licensing requirements and standards are certainly more developed than some of the jurisdictions with which France will exchange motorcycle licences, many of which have no progressive licensing structures (e.g. engine displacement, ability to carry passengers) or graduated licensing schemes at all.
  • France’s motorcycle training and licensing requirements certainly meet or exceed the standards for riders in Alberta.
  • Alberta exchanges motorcycle licences with Switzerland and Northern Ireland, which have identical motorcycle licence classes to France.
  • France exchanges motorcycle licences with literally the majority of the sovereign states on the planet (including a whole lot of third-world countries that probably have lower requirements than Alberta), yet has no agreement addressing motorcycle licences with Alberta.

So, perhaps it’s time to re-examine the reciprocal licensing agreement with France, as expanding the agreement to include motorcycle licences will benefit residents of both jurisdictions with no detrimental effects.