The rules for getting a driving 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 driving licence in Canada without the need to sit any road tests or knowledge (theory) tests. However, many newcomers to Canada need to sit a theory test and/or a road test before they can obtain a driving license in Canada, even if they already have years of driving experience outside Canada.

In any event, you should take the time to familiarise 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.

First step to getting a driving license in Canada

How to get a driving license in Canada. Choose your destination:

Before you arrive in Canada, it’s recommended that you get a copy of your driving history from your home country’s licensing 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 driving license in Canada. Documentation should be in English or French.

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Alberta driving license

If you are moving to Alberta and want to obtain an Alberta driving license, here’s what you need to know.

You may drive on your non-Alberta license during your first 90 days in the province. After this, you’ll need an Alberta driving license. License types include:

  • Class 7: Learner’s license for cars and mopeds.
  • Class 6: Permits operation of a motorcycle or moped by yourself, and also serves as a learner permit for all class 5 motor vehicles.
  • Class 5: Full driver license for two-axle vehicles (e.g. cars) and mopeds.
  • Class 5-GDL: This is the ‘Graduated Driver’s License’ for those who have passed a road test but have less than two years of driving experience. It carries stricter penalties and restrictions, including the requirement of maintaining a 0% blood alcohol level.

Those with licenses from the following countries will be able to exchange their existing license for an Alberta driving license without sitting a knowledge or road test.

  • Australia (Class 5 and 6)
  • Austria (Class 5)
  • Belgium (Class 5)
  • France (Class 5)
  • Germany (Class 5)
  • Isle of Man (Class 5 and 6)
  • Japan (Class 5)
  • Netherlands (Class 5)
  • Republic of Korea (Class 5)
  • Switzerland (Class 5 and 6)
  • Taiwan (Class 5)
  • United Kingdom (Northern Ireland – Class 5, and 6)
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland & Wales – Class 5)
  • United States (Class 5, 6, and 7)

You must surrender your existing license in order to receive an Alberta driving license in Canada. In order to receive a full Class 5 license, and not a Class 5-GDL license, you must provide proof that you have more than two years of driving experience.

If your license is not from one of the countries listed above, you must pass a knowledge test to receive a Class 7 license, and then sit a road test to get a Class 5 license. If you do not have two years of driving experience, you will receive a Class 5-GDL license, and then sit a road test once two years of experience has been accumulated in order to receive a full Class 5 license.

Read the official guidelines on exchanging your license for an Alberta driving license.

B.C. driving license

The local licensing authority for the issuance of a B.C. driving license is called the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

New arrivals may drive on their foreign license for up to 90 days after arrival. After this point, only a driving license in Canada issued by British Columbia may be used.

You can exchange your foreign license for a B.C. driving license right away if your license is from one of the countries which the province has an agreement with. These countries are:

  • Austria, Australia, France, Germany, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea (not motorcycles), Switzerland, Taiwan (for passenger vehicles only, not motorcycles), United Kingdom, USA.

Holders of licenses from these countries will need to bring identification (including permanent resident card, or work/study permit). They will need to surrender their existing license, and answer some basic questions about road safety in order to get a B.C. driving license.

Those with more than two years of driving experience will get a full, ‘Class 5’ license right away. Those with less than two years of experience will receive a ‘Class 7’ novice license, and may then apply for a full ‘Class 5’ license when they have accumulated two years of experience. Foreign experience will be credited towards the two-year total.

If your country is not listed above, then you will need to sit a full knowledge and road test in order to receive your driving license in Canada. The first step is to sit the knowledge test at any ICBC office, and answer at least 40 of the 50 questions correctly.  Then, you will need to sit your road test(s). If you already have more than two years of driving experience, you can apply for a full ‘Class 5’ licence. If not, then you’ll need to apply for a ‘Class 7’ novice licence.

Read the official guidelines on getting a B.C. driving license here.

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Manitoba driving license

Drivers who are new to Manitoba may continue driving on their non-Manitoba license for up to three months. After this, a Manitoba driving license is required.

Holders of driver licenses from the countries below may exchange their foreign license for a Manitoba driving license without sitting a written or road test:

  • Australia (Classes 5 and 6 only)
  • Austria (Class 5)
  • France (Class 5)
  • Germany (Class 5)
  • Ireland (Classes 5 and 6)
  • Isle of Man (Classes 5 and 6)
  • Northern Ireland (Classes 5 and 6)
  • South Korea (Class 5)
  • Switzerland (Class 5 and 6)
  • Taiwan (Class 5)
  • United Kingdom (Classes 5 and 6)
  • USA (Classes 5 and 6)

Holders of driver licenses from other countries will be required to sit a written and/or road test.

Read the official guidelines on obtaining a Manitoba driving license.

New Brunswick driving license

Read the official guidelines on getting a New Brunswick driving license.

Newfoundland driving license

Read the official guidelines on getting a Newfoundland driving license.

Northwest Territories driving license

Read the official guidelines on getting a Northwest Territories driving license.

Nova Scotia driving license

Read the official guidelines on getting a Nova Scotia driving license.

Ontario driving license

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 license 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 an Ontario 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 5 a.m. Once you have accumulated two years of experience, you can sit your G2 road test to get a full Ontario driving license in Canada.

If your country is not listed above, then you will not be able to exchange your foreign licence for an Ontario license. 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.

Read the official guidelines on obtaining an Ontario license.

Carsharing in Toronto

Carsharing is an increasingly popular transit option among newcomers to Toronto. To learn more and begin putting your new Canadian driving license to good use, visit our options for carsharing in Toronto page.

PEI driving license

Read the official guidelines on getting a PEI driving license.

Quebec driving license

Holders of non-Quebec licenses can drive on their existing license for the first six months after arrival. New residents must then obtain a Quebec driver license in Canada issued by the province of Quebec.

Those with licenses from the following countries can obtain a license without going through the full testing procedure:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Great Britain: England, Scotland, Wales
  • Germany
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Korea (South Korea)
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands: Holland and the Dutch Antilles (Sint Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba and Sint Eustatius)
  • Taiwan

Holders of licenses from these countries must provide these documents:

  • Foreign driving licence
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship, or right to stay in Canada
  • Proof of residency in Quebec
  • Proof of residency in the country in which your licence was issued if you obtained your licence within the previous three years
  • Translation of your driving licence, if it is written in a language other than French or English.

You can schedule an appointment by calling (514) 954-7771 in Montreal, or 1-888-356-6616 elsewhere in Quebec. Canadian citizens may call (514) 873-7620 in the Montreal area, (418) 643-7620 in Quebec City, or 1-800-361-7620 elsewhere.

Holders of licenses from countries not listed above will still need to provide the above documents. The first step to getting a driver license in Canada issued by Quebec will be to sit the knowledge test, and then sit a road test. Road test appointments can be scheduled by calling 418 643-5213 in Québec City, 514 873-5803 in Montreal, and 1-888-667-8687 elsewhere.

Read the official guidelines on obtaining a Quebec driver license.

Carsharing in Montreal

It’s now easier than ever to get from A to B in Montreal, thanks to the increased popularity and availability of carsharing. To learn more, visit our options for carsharing in Montreal page.

Saskatchewan driving license

New residents in Saskatchewan can use their out-of-province license to legally drive for the first 90 days after arrival. From then on, you must use a valid driver license in Canada issued by Saskatchewan.

Holders of licenses from the following countries may exchange their license for an equivalent Saskatchewan license:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • USA

Drivers with less than two years of experience will be placed into the relevant stage of the Graduated Driver License program.

Holders of licences from countries not listed above must pass written tests, complete nine months of practice as a learner, complete 12 hours of certified driving training, and pass a road test.

Read the official guidelines here.

Yukon driving license

There is an official guidelines on getting a Yukon driving license that can provide additional information.

More helpful information

Getting your driving license in Canada as a newcomer is just one thing off your to-do list. Now it’s time to explore.

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