Driving in Canada-How to get your driving license in Canada

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Before the article begins discussing about the driving license in Canada in a stretch, it is necessary for Indians to remember that just with one license if they think they can run throughout India, then they are definitely wrong in Canada. The rules for getting a driving license in Canada differ in each province and territory. But the perks say that depending on whichever country an individual is from; he can simply exchange his foreign license for a driver’s license in Canada without the need to take any knowledge or road tests. However, many newcomers to Canada need to sit a theory test and road test before they can obtain a Canadian driving license, even if they already have years of driving experience outside Canada.

Driving License in Canada:

  • Go through the official link: How to Get Your Canada Driving License – icandrive.ca for more clarity.
  • To legally drive a car in Canada, you’ll need a driver’s license issued by the government of your province or territory. You must have it with you whenever you’re driving. With it, you can drive anywhere in Canada.
  • If you have a valid license from your home country, you’ll probably be able to use this to drive in Canada for a short time after you arrive. Check with the government of your province or territory for details.
  • If you plan to use a foreign driver’s license in Canada, you should get an International Driving Permit (IDP) in your home country. An IDP will give you a translation of your license into French and English.
  • The process to get a driver’s license in Canada depends on the province or territory where you live and on your driving background. It may include:
  • a written exam on the rules of the road (you can get a study guide to help with this)
  • one or two driving tests
  • You may choose to pay for driving lessons to get ready for the driving tests. Search online for lessons.
  • Once you have a license, you will have to renew it every so often. The expiry date will be printed on your license.

Types of Driving Licenses available in Canada:

  1. Car License
  2. Truck License
  3. Bus License
  4. Taxi License
  5. School Bus
  6. Motorcycle License
  7. Moped License
  8. Boat License

As discussed above, the driving License in Canada differs from provinces to territories. Therefore, below mentioned in the list of destinations with respect to their detailed explanations about the driving license in those particular places.

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  • Driving on the non-Alberta license during your first 90 days in the province is permittable.  Thereafter, one has to adamantly prepare 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- Class5 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 and Wales)- Class 5
  • United States- Class 5, 6, 7
  • One has to compulsorily submit or surrender his or her existing driving license for receiving an Alberta driving license.
  • In order to receive a full Class 5 license and not a class5-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.
  • Without two years of driving experience, one is expected to receive a Class 5-GDL license. He or she has to sit for a road test once two years of experience has been accumulated in order to receive a full Class 5 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 driver 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 driver 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
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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
  • 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.


Go through the link: official guidelines on getting a New Brunswick driving license (gnb.ca)

 for the detailed understanding regarding the driving license pattern in New Brunstuck.


Gothrough the link:


for the detailed understanding regarding the driving license pattern in Newfoundland and Labrador


Go through the link: official guidelines on getting a Northwest Territories driving license (gov.nt.ca)for the detailed understanding regarding the driving license pattern in Northwest territories.


Go through the link: Official Guidelines on Getting a Nova Scotia Driving License for the detailed understanding regarding the driving license pattern in Nova Scotia.


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;

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 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 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.
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It is important to note under the Highway Traffic Act, newcomers may use their driver`s license to drive in Prince Edward Island for up to four months after they become a resident of the Province.

This period of time will be extended if an individual has started but not completed the driver license exchange process within the four months.Also, drivers with a 6-month Visitor`s Visa are not required or eligible for a PEI driver`s license.

You will not need to pass a written knowledge exam and driving test if your original driver’s license is from Canada, United States or one of the following countries:

  • Austria
  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
  • If your original driver’s license is not from one the countries listed above, you must also:
  • Pass a vision test
  • Complete a written knowledge test on the rules of the road
  • Complete the Novice Driver Course for Newcomers (NDCN)
  • Successfully complete a driving test.
  • You will need the following documents in order to exchange your out-of-province license to a PEI licence.
  • A valid photo driver’s license from your home jurisdiction;
  • Two documents that show your current address in Prince Edward Island such as a:
  • phone bill
  • electric bill,
  • personal cheque,
  • mail from federal or provincial government,
  • rental agreement,
  • mortgage papers,
  • letter from your employer, or
  • any other address-related document that may be approved;
  • If required, a certified translation of your driver’s licence or a translation provided by PEI Association of Newcomers to Canada Interpretation and Translation Services
  • Immigration documents that show your legal status and length of stay in Canada.


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.


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.

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Go through the link: How to Get a Yukon Driving License – icandrive.cafor the detailed understanding regarding the driving license pattern in Yukon.

Table 1.0: List of official page links with respect to each Canadian provinces and territories for better and updated information:

Canada Provinces & territories Official Guidelines on obtaining DL for each province.
Alberta Exchange a licence from outside Alberta | Alberta.ca
British Columbia (B.C.) Moving from outside Canada (icbc.com)
Manitoba Licensing & ID (mpi.mb.ca)
New Brunswick Driver’s Licences for New Residents (gnb.ca)
Newfoundland Application Process – Digital Government and Service NL
Northwest Territories official guidelines on getting a Northwest Territories driving license (gov.nt.ca)
Nova Scotia Nova Scotia Permits Directory – Registry of Motor Vehicles – Driver’s Licence
Ontario https://www.ontario.ca/page/exchange-out-province-drivers-licence
Prince Edward Island (PEI) Driving with an Out-of-Province License | Government of Prince Edward Island
Quebec Foreign Driver’s Licence – SAAQ (gouv.qc.ca)
Saskatchewan Moving to Saskatchewan – SGI
Yukon How to Get a Yukon Driving License – icandrive.ca

Facts to remember before landing in Canada:

  • Take time to familiarize with the road signs and rules of driving, no matter you are further going to driving in Canada or not. Precaution is the first aid always.
  • In case, you are thinking or prepared to drive in Canada and by any chance during winter, be aware to take driving cautions or driving lessons to ride on winter. Winter is quite snowy and strong in Canada leading to real hassles.
  • You should also apply for an International Driver’s Permit in your home country before leaving. It will save you the trouble of translating your driving licence if not in French (only acceptable in some provinces/territories) or English.
  • You should also get a copy of your driving history from your home country’s licensing authority (in English or French). This will help when you’re applying for a driver’s license in Canada, as it can get you driving experience credits when exchanging your licence.
  • If your driving licence was issued in the country that has an exchange agreement in place with the province where you reside, you will be able to simply exchange it for Canadian driving license. If your license was not issued in any of these countries, you might still be able to fast-track and get credit for previous driving experience.
  • If you want to claim more than 1 year of driving experience, you will need an official letter from the foreign issuing authority, which confirms that the licence is authentic. The letter needs to be translated into English or French.
  • In Ontario, you are allowed to self-declare one year of driving experience. All you have to do is to show a valid, original foreign driving licence.
  • By international treaty just about every country’s driver licence is valid for tourists to drive in every country. The period of validity may vary but is you are a tourist on a typical visit then it is good.
  • If you visit a country that does not use the same language as on your driver license, then you should get an international driving permit. All this is is a translation document that says what you are licensed to drive or what restrictions are on your license in multiple languages and your original DL has to be with it for it to be valid. If you are from the US then your English language licenses are good in Canada.
  • As far as Canada and the US is concerned any full license issued in any jurisdiction is instantly accepted in every state and province. Only exception is some idiot troopers in the southern US who are too stupid to realize the law.
  • Also, since the two countries are so integrated in a lot of ways, traffic violations in one country will reflect on your home license for demerit points, so be a good driver wherever you go.
  • You are responsible for knowing local driving laws and to adjust for conditions. If you are from a warm part of the US do not think you can handle our ice and snow conditions. If you are from Alaska then you will be OK in Manitoba in January.

Car Insurance in Canada:

  • It is illegal to drive without car insurance in Canada. If you own a car, you must get insurance coverage. If you regularly drive a car that belongs to a relative or friend, you should make sure you’re listed on their car insurance plan.
  • You can get different types of car insurance plans, including coverage for either or both:
  • injuries to yourself and damage to your car or
  • the costs of damages and injury to others if you’re at fault in an accident
  • Your car insurance cost depends on the plan you choose and your:
  • age
  • driving record
  • living location
  • driving experience
  • The cost also varies between insurance companies. For this reason, you should:
  • make sure you understand what each plan covers
  • contact a few companies for details about the price of their insurance plans

If you’re in an accident?

Measurable steps to remember if in case you met an accident in Canada:

  • call the emergency number (911) for police and an ambulance (if you need one)
  • It is a serious crime to leave the scene of the accident until the emergency services you called arrive.
  • exchange information with the other driver (if the accident involves another vehicle), including:
  • name
  • address
  • telephone number
  • licence plate
  • driver’s licence numbers
  • insurance company name
  • insurance plan number

List of advantages, if you have a Canada Driving License:

  1. Obviously, your Canada driving license identifies you as a legally certified driver in Canada especially, at your respective province or territory of residence.
  2. Your licence serves as your official personal I.D. even for writing a check, opening a bank account, enrolling for school, and at many other daily activities.
  3. If you are ever in an accident while driving or a passenger who is injured, emergency personnel will use your Canada driving license to identify who you are and how to contact your family.
  4. Your licence identifies you as an organ donor.
  5. If your wallet is ever lost and someone is trying to return it to you, your Canada driving license is the best thing they can use to track you down and return your property.
  6. Often times to avoid alcohol or tobacco from being sold to underage individuals, stores will ask for your driver’s licence to verify that you are old enough to be purchasing these products.
  7. A license can be used as I.D. at a club to ensure to meet the minimum age requirements.
  8. Often times when you’re travelling, especially on domestic flights, your licence is your primary ID and will be requested while checking in as well as prior to boarding your flight.

Other Factors:

  • You can buy a new or used car from a car dealer or from a person who sells cars.
  • In case you feel like leasing a car instead of purchasing it, you can carry out the process easily with a car dealer. Here, you come across a legal agreement to pay a fee to use the car for a respective amount of time.
  • After leasing a car, you are advised to return it to the dealer in the good condition after the specific contractual period gets fulfilled.
  • Go through the link: Traffic Safety Archives – Canada Safety Council for getting acquainted with the safety driving tips of Canada.

*Marked provinces tend to update their regulations frequently. Henceforth, to avoid confusion, refer directly to the given links either in their respective contents or from the Table 1.0structured above in the article.

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