The rules for getting a driver license in Canada differ in each province and territory. In this article, we outline the general requirements in those provinces and territories most popular with newcomers to Canada.
Depending on which country you’re from, you may be able to simply exchange your foreign licence for a driver licence in Canada without the need to sit any road tests.
In any event, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the road signage and rules in your new province. They may present different challenges to those you are used to, for example, winter driving in Canada might require preparation you’ve never had to consider before.
Before you arrive in Canada, it is recommended that you get a copy of your driving history from your home country’s licencing authority and/or insurance provider. Having the appropriate documentation (including the actual licence itself) ready when you arrive will help when you’re applying for a driver license in Canada. Documentation should be in English or French.
How to get a driver license in Canada
Valid non-Ontario licenses may be used for the first 60 days while you get settled in the province. Once that time has elapsed, a valid Ontario license is required.
You may simply exchange your existing license for an Ontario equivalent if your license is from:
- another Canadian province or territory; or
- Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Taiwan, USA.
Learner or novice licenses cannot be exchanged. However, you may still receive credit for previous experience and proceed through the Ontario licensing structure more quickly as a result.
To exchange your foreign license, you will need to go to a DriveTest centre, where you will:
- take an eye test;
- bring original identification showing your legal name, date of birth and signature;
- bring your valid non-Ontario licence;
- bring any original supporting documents that show proof of your driving experience;
- pay the applicable fees; and
- fill out an application form (where you will state how long you have been driving)
If you have less than two years of driving experience, you will receive a G1 license which carries additional restrictions, including maintaining a zero blood alcohol level, and not driving between midnight and 5am. Once you have accumulated two years of experience, you can sit your G2 road test to get a full driver license in Canada.
If your country is not listed above, then you will not be able to exchange your foreign licence for an Ontario equivalent. You will need to sit a written test about road rules and traffic signage, take an eye test, and then sit a road test. If you have more than two years of foreign experience, you can sit the G2 road test and get a full license. If you have less than two years of driving experience, you may sit the G1 road test, and then the G2 road test when you’ve accumulated two years.
Carsharing in Toronto
Carsharing is an increasingly popular transit option among newcomers to Toronto. To learn more, visit our options for carsharing in Toronto page.