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Getting your Ontario drivers license
Scenic highway in Northern Ontario

There are countless things you need to get in order when moving to a new country. One of them is ensuring you have the proper documents to transfer your driver’s license. It is important to make sure you have a valid drivers license for the province where you reside. But knowing what steps you need to take can be confusing for newcomers to Canada. Here’s what to know to get your Ontario drivers license.

The rules for getting a driving license in Canada differ in each province and territory. If you are moving to Ontario from another country, you may be able to simply exchange your foreign license for a driver’s license in Ontario without the need to take a road test if you are from one of the countries that have a license exchange agreement with the province. 

Or, if you’re moving from another province, you should do your research on the steps you need to take to exchange your license from another province. 

Research How to Exchange Your Drivers License

Before you arrive in Canada, it’s a good idea to understand the steps you will need to take in order to get your licence in Ontario. Being prepared is essential. Here are some steps to take before you move:

  • Get a copy of your driving history from your home country’s licensing authority to proof your license type and the number of years you have been a fully licensed driver.
  • Get proof of insurance. Insurance companies will want to see your insurance history. If you can provide your history, it can help you get a better car insurance rate, especially if you have a clean driving record.  
  • Bring your actual drivers license with you. You will need to provide this to the Ministry of Transportation when getting your Ontario license. 

Having the appropriate documents (including the actual licence itself) ready when you arrive will help when you apply for a drivers license in Canada. 

Getting your Driving License When You Arrive In Ontario

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. There are certain countries the province has agreements with that allow for a simple exchange. 

You may exchange your existing license for an Ontario equivalent if your license is from:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • The Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • New Zealand
  • Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United States

A learner or novice license cannot be exchanged. However, you may still receive credit for previous driving experience and proceed through the Ontario graduated licensing process more quickly as a result.

Exchanging Your Foreign Drivers License In Ontario

To exchange your foreign license, you will need to go to a Drive Test centre, where you will need to:

  • Take an eye test
  • Bring original identification showing your legal name, date of birth and signature.
  • Bring your valid non-Ontario licence
  • Show 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. This is equivalent to a learner’s permit. It is the first of three steps to becoming fully licensed in Ontario. Here are the different licensing classes and requirements as outlined on Ontario.ca:

G1 License Requirements

  • Maintain a zero-blood alcohol level (no alcohol in your blood)
  • Ensure every passenger wears a properly working seatbelt
  • Avoid driving between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • Do not drive on 400-series highways or high-speed expressways (i.e. 401, Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), Gardiner Expressway)
  • Drive with a fully licensed driver who has at least four years of driving experience
  • Practice with your G1 licence for 12 months.

G2 Drivers License

After you pass your G1 road test, you get a G2 Ontario drivers licence. With a G2 license you:

  • Must practice with your G2 licence for 12 months 
  • Can drive without another experienced driver in the car
  • Must have a zero-blood alcohol level.s

If you are 19 and under, some other restrictions still apply.

G License

A G license is a full drivers license in Ontario. You will receive a G drivers license if you are from one of the countries that have an exchange agreement. If you are not, the MTO will assess your driving experience and assign you a driver’s license based on the information you provide. You may be required to take a knowledge and road test. With a G Ontario drivers license:

  • You pass a comprehensive road test
  • All driving restrictions are removed

For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page. We’ll help you to settle in Canada successfully!