New to Canada: Getting Your Licence
Find out what you need to do to get your licence as a newcomer to Canada.
Whether you’re getting to know your new neighbours city by city and town by town, or stopping somewhere off the map to marvel at the beauty of your new home, you’ll soon discover that Ontario is best experienced by car.
So you’ll need to start working on getting an Ontario driver’s licence and car insurance.
“I already have a valid driver’s licence from back home.”
In Ontario, you can legally drive with a foreign licence for 60 days after moving here, but you should have an English or French version of your licence, called an International Driving Permit (IDP). You can request an IDP from the licensing authority in your home country.
Exchanging your foreign driver’s licence for an Ontario licence
Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation makes it easy to swap out your old licence for a new Ontario licence if you’re from another Canadian province or territory, the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ire-land, Switzerland and Taiwan.
Bring your licence to a DriveTest centre and they’ll get it done quickly (you’ll need to take an eye test). If you have less than two years of driving experience, you’ll have to take a road test after you complete your two years of cumulative driving. So, if you’ve been driving for 14 months, you’ll have to wait another eight months. In that time, you can get to know Ontario’s rules of the road.
And if you can’t exchange your foreign driver’s licence?
You’ll need to:
- Take an eye test
- Show originals of your accepted identity documents
- Provide your valid out-of-province/foreign driver’s licence and any origi-nal supporting documents (in English or French) that show proof of your driving experience
- Fill out an application form and pay the applicable fees
If you have 2+ years’ driving experience, you’ll need to take an eye test, a writ-ten test and one road test, which you can take right away. If you have less than two years of driving experience, you need to go through Ontario’s driving test process. It can be tedious, especially if you have experience driving back home. But as you’ll see below, you can be driving basically right away once you have the right car insurance.
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How do driving tests work in Ontario?
Ontario has a graduated licensing system so new drivers have time to get comfortable behind the wheel. You’ll go through three levels:
This is your first licence. You get your G1 after passing a written test. It’s quite restrictive.
- You can’t drive on 400-series highways with a speed limits over 80 km/h.
- You can’t drive on urban parkways like the DVP or the QEW.
- You can’t drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
- You can’t have ANY alcohol.
- You can’t be driving by yourself, and your chaperone must be fully licensed.
After passing your G1 road test, you’re moved up a level and given more leeway. You’ll be able to drive on any road, but you still can’t have any alcohol and every passenger has to be wearing a seat-belt.
After 12 months with a G2, you’ll be ready to take your final road test and earn your full G licence.
What about car insurance?
In Ontario, you have to be insured before you get behind the wheel of a car.
As a G1 driver, you’re unlikely to get insured on your own so you have to be insured under someone else’s policy (family, friend, employer, etc.).
With a G2, you can get your own insurance, but the rates may be higher as a less experienced driver.
Can the G2 insurance rates be lowered?
Yes. And you can do it from the moment you get your G1.
By selecting one of the Ministry-approved driving schools to complete your driver’s education in preparation for your G1 road test, you can pretty much guarantee a discount on your G2 rates.
How to keep your rates low as a G driver
Your car insurance rate will decrease when you’re licensed as a full G. After that, if you do your part to keep us all safe, your rates will be more than manageable, which will make it easier to see even more of your new home. Drive the speed limit, drive defensively around others, and stay safe.