Getting a driver’s licence in Canada
To be a legal driver in Canada, you need a driver’s licence issued by your province or territory. It allows you to drive anywhere in the country — as long as you have it with you whenever you’re behind the wheel.
How do you get a driver’s licence in each province or territory?
Each region has its own set of rules for earning a driver’s licence. Age requirements vary — in Alberta, teens as young as 14 can get a learner’s licence — but in most provinces you need to be at least 16 years old to begin the process.
Most provinces and territories have a graduated licensing program, which is composed of two to three stages that drivers must pass before earning a full driver’s licence. Requirements can include:• Reaching a minimum age
• Passing a vision test
• Passing a written test, typically on road signs and driving laws
• Taking driving lessons from a government-approved driving school
• Passing at least one road test
The graduated licence process in Ontario
To start the driver’s licence process in Ontario, you need to be at least 16 years old, pass a vision test, and a written test.
Before you can get a full G licence, you must complete two learning levels: G1 and G2, and pass two road tests. You have up to 5 years to finish the whole process. After 5 years, you’ll have to start over.
What can you do with a G1 licence?
Once you have passed your vision and written tests, you will earn your G1. According to the Ontario government, when you have a G1 licence, you must:
• Maintain a zero blood alcohol level
• Make sure every passenger wears a working seatbelt
• Avoid driving between midnight and 5 am
• Avoid driving on 400-series highways or high-speed expressways
• Drive with a fully licensed driver who has four years’ experience and a blood alcohol of less than .05
In most cases, you’ll need to practise with your G1 licence for 12 months before becoming eligible to take the G2 road exam that tests basic driving skills. How-ever, if you complete a government-approved driver education course, such as a program from Young Drivers of Canada, you can take your first road test after eight months. Either way, if you pass, you’ll get a G2 licence.
What can you do with a G2 licence?
As a G2 licence holder, you can drive:• Without another experienced driver in the car
• On all Ontario roads
• At any time of the day
You still need to maintain a zero blood alcohol level and carry only as many passengers as working seatbelts.
Drivers under 19 years old may only have one passenger who is 19 or under between the hours of midnight and 5 am during the first six months of holding their G2. After six months, you can drive with up to three passengers under 19 between midnight and 5 am. These conditions don’t apply if you have a fully licensed driver in your car with four years’ experience or if your passengers are immediate family members, such as siblings.
After 12 months, you can take the G road test, which covers more advanced driving skills, including highway driving and parallel parking. If you pass, you’ll have a full G licence, which authorizes you to drive a car, van or small truck on any roadway, with or without passengers.
What about driving school?
Taking driving lessons from a government-approved driving school will help you develop the skills and habits you need to be a safe, confident driver.
Another plus is that it usually decreases auto insurance rates. Many car insurance companies will offer savings of up to 5 to 15% when you complete a driver education program from a government-approved organization.
What about insurance in Ontario?
Whether you have a G1, G2 or a full G driver’s licence, you need to be properly insured to drive a vehicle in order to protect you, your car and other vehicles, property and drivers in the event of a collision.
G1 drivers’ insurance
If you’re the parent of a teen driver who is using your insured vehicle to practise, you can simply add a secondary G1 driver on your auto insurance policy. The G1 driver can’t drive on their own so most insurance companies allow them to be added at no extra cost.
If you’re an adult new driver, you may be able to become a secondary driver on the auto insurance policy of a spouse, family member or friend. It’s not likely that an insurance company would provide auto insurance to a person who has a G1 licence.