How to Obtain an Ontario’s Driver’s Licence
For many, having a valid driver’s licence is about more than the ability to legally operate a moving vehicle. It is about the freedom and ease to come and go as life demands—in whichever direction it takes you.
If you are a newcomer to Ontario, you can continue to use a valid driver’s licence from your province, state or country of origin—but only for 60 days. After that, you must switch to an Ontario Driver’s Licence.
The province of Ontario operates with a graduated licencing process, requiring all drivers to complete two learning levels (G1 and G2) and pass two road exams before earning a full standard licence (G). The process is designed to give new drivers time to practice and gain driving experience, and can be completed over the course of two to five years.
Here are three steps you can take to make sure you don’t find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
- Check to see if you are eligible to simply exchange your original licence for an Ontario one.
The province of Ontario has exchange agreements with the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Japan, Korea, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland. This means that if you are relocating from one of these countries, you can simply bring your valid foreign driver’s licence to a Service Ontario location and exchange it for an Ontario Driver’s Licence. This exchange policy, however, only applies to a full standard driver’s licences. It does not apply to learner’s permits, novice-class licences or motorcycle licences.
- Provide proof of past driving experience—and make sure to have it translated!
If your country of origin does not have an exchange agreement with Ontario, however, it does not necessarily mean that you need to start all the way at the beginning. Instead, you can fast-track the graduated process slightly by providing proof of past driving experience. This can come in the form of either your valid foreign licence or an official letter from the foreign government or agency that issued your original licence.
Your valid foreign licence grants you one year of driving experience, allowing you to skip the G1 level and immediately take the road test for your G2. The G2 licence allows drivers to drive without another experienced driver in the car, on all Ontario roads and at any time of day; but, like the G1, it still requires the driver to maintain a zero blood alcohol level (https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-g-drivers-licence-new-drivers#section-7). You must have a minimum of 12 months of additional driving experience with a G2 licence before you can take the road test for a full G licence.
If you wish to skip the learning levels altogether, you can declare more than one year’s worth of driving experience by presenting an official letter from the foreign government or agency that issued your original licence. This official letter must clearly state your past driving experience and vouch for the authenticity of your foreign licence.
Of course, all proof of past driving experience must be presented in either English or French. If your original licence or official letter is not in English or French, you need to have it translated by a recognized, ministry-approved translator (hyperlink). In the regions of Central and Eastern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), a recognized ministry-approved translator is a translator who is either certified by a professional translation association (e.g. ATIO hyperlink) or accredited by the provincial or federal government.
- Apply for your Ontario Licence
Once you have your proof of experience documents translated by a certified or ministry-approved translator, you have six months to apply for your new Ontario licence in-person at a Driver Test Centre or a Service Ontario location. There, you will need to: take an eye exam, present accepted identification, present proof of past driving experience and pay all applicable fees.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be asked to complete a written knowledge test or a road test. Computerized knowledge tests and paper-based G1 tests are available in 17 different languages; however, all other paper tests are available in English and French only. If you require a language translator, you can make arrangements for a verbal test to be administered by a DriveTest Center employee in the presence of a language translator. Road tests, on the other hand, are offered in English and French only. You cannot have a language translator, driving instructor or another passenger in the vehicle while you complete the exam. For more information click here.
Have questions or looking to get your driver’s licence translated? Write to us at email@example.com.