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If you’re new to Ontario or new to being 16 years old, you’ll probably want a driver’s licence to get around this beautiful province. As a prospective new driver, your first stop will be an Ontario DriveTest centre where you’ll get the licensing process started.

If you’re licensed to drive in another province...

You can do a straight exchange at an Ontario DriveTest centre for $90.

If you’re licensed to drive in another country…

Depending on where it was issued, you may be allowed to exchange it for an Ontario driver’s licence at an Ontario DriveTest centre for $90 without retaking a road test (or more if you need to take the test). Countries the exchange program applies to include:

  • US
  • UK
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland

If your licence was issued in one of these countries, visit an Ontario DriveTest centre with your driver’s licence, an approved form of ID and a recent (<6 months) drivers abstract. If your licence is in a foreign language, it must be verified by an approved translator.

If you’re licensed to drive in a country not listed above…

You’ll need to pay $106.00, plus any additional fees for tests that are required on a case-by-case basis.

If you’ve never been licensed to drive anywhere…

The province of Ontario requires all drivers to:

(a) be at least 16 years old

(b) pass an eye test and

(c) demonstrate an understanding of traffic signs and rules of the road.

If you meet these criteria, you’ll be granted your G1 licence, which gives you the right to drive a car under the following circumstances:
  • You’re with a passenger who’s been fully licensed for at least four years and who has a blood alcohol level (BAL) of under 0.05 (zero BAL for passengers 21 or under)
  • Your BAL is zero
  • All passengers are wearing seatbelts
  • You’re not driving between midnight and 5 am
  • You’re not on an expressway or 400-series highway

Under these strict conditions, you’ll complete the first two learning levels (G1 and G2) with your driving instructor and take two road tests.

If you pass both tests within five years of starting the process, you’ll be given your full G licence, which is the standard driver’s licence in Ontario.

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If you’re licensed to drive in Ontario but you’re over 80 years old…

You’ll have to get re-certified every two years. A package will be sent out to you on your 80th birthday with a renewal form and instructions. If you’re approaching 80, you can review the entire process here.

If you need a driving instructor…

Most provincially accredited driving schools will split their instruction between in-class learning and in-car training. Both elements of the curriculum are required to complete the two exams you need to be granted your G Licence in Ontario.

If you’re a new driver or a young driver, you should strongly consider choosing a driving instructor from the list of MTO-approved beginner driver education courses, as it can lower your car insurance premium – an added benefit, since yours will automatically be higher because of your inexperience behind the wheel. And given the 11 percent rise in car insurance costs across Ontario over the past year, every little bit of savings will help.

An MTO-approved driver education course will include at least 20 hours of in-class education, 10 hours of in-car training and 10 hours of flex time, which could include extra in-car practice, driver simulations or online learning.

The average price of a driver’s education course in Ontario is around $850, and will cover you through to getting your G Licence in Ontario. A look at 15 randomly selected driver education courses across the province showed the most expensive course to be around $1,500, and the least expensive to be around $500.

Once you have your G Licence in Ontario…

You can drive any car, van or small truck unaccompanied. And you can apply and train for additional licences, like:

  • M Licence for motorcycles
  • D Licence for trucks over 11,000 kg
  • A Licence for tractor trailers
  • B, C and E Licences for school buses
  • F Licence for ambulances
  • Z Endorsement for vehicles with air brakes

A final note about driving in Ontario

One you get your licence, you should keep it with you at all times because the fine for driving without it is a steep $325.

Driving without your licence will also stay on your record for three years and will most likely compromise your car insurance premium.

When you’re licensed to drive in Ontario, the law will require you to carry auto insurance to start driving. Onlia’s here when you’re ready.

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