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How To Get A Driver’s License In Ontario: A Step-By-Step Guide For Newcomers

Some can even exchange a foreign driver's license for a local one!

Editorial Assistant
Someone driving a Tesla, Right: A test centre at Scarborough

Someone driving a Tesla, Right: A test centre at Scarborough

A driver's license can be an important piece of government ID for residents of Ontario, especially for newcomers, who might not have any Canadian paperwork besides their visa or permit.

Some newcomers might even be able to exchange their foreign licenses for a local one.

"If visiting from a foreign jurisdiction, a driver may drive in Ontario using their valid foreign driver’s licence," Dakota Brasier, a senior spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation, confirmed to Narcity.

"If they are visiting for more than three months in any one year, they must also have an International Driver’s Permit, which is issued by their home jurisdiction," she added.
Not all out-of-province licenses are eligible for an exchange though. In this case, you might have to take certain driving tests before getting a full Ontario driver's license. Some others might also be required to start from the very first step.

Either way, fret not; we've got you covered with everything there is to know about the process, and more. Here' a complete guide for newcomers to get a driver's licence in Ontario:

How do I get my Ontario driver's license?

Ontario driver's license sample.

Ontario driver's license sample.

AGCO | Document

Whether or not you can exchange your original license for a full one will depend on where you got your initial license from and how long you've been driving.

You'll need to apply in person at the Service Ontario at the Bay and College location in Toronto, or at a DriveTest Centre.

Make sure to have your out-of-province driver's license in hand, as well as documents that show proof of driving experience and that verify your identity.

A driving test may be needed depending on how many years of driving experience you have and if you had a full driver's license before you apply for an Ontario one.

Here are the requirements that newcomers might have to meet though:

  • Visitors to Ontario who want to drive while here must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s licence from your own province, state or country
  • If you are visiting Ontario for more than three months, you need an International Driver’s Permit from your own country
  • If you become a permanent resident of Ontario, you must get an Ontario driver’s licence

To sum up, you might need to:

What are the different driving licenses in Ontario?

Ontario offers a total of 15 types of licences -- depending on the specific type of vehicle you wish to drive.

Typically, most drivers require a G class license to drive a car, van or small truck. If you wish to start from scratch to obtain a G class license, you'll have to go through a few steps:

  • Applicants are required to pass eye and knowledge tests to get a G1 licence
  • Before you can get a full G licence, you have to:
    • finish one more learning level: G2
    • pass two road tests
  • This process is called “graduated licensing”
  • The idea is to give new drivers time to gain real-life driving experience
  • Applicants get up to five years to finish the whole process, from the time they apply for the G1
  • After five years, if you do not get your full G licence, you will need to start over

Having a G Class license will allow you to drive any van, car, small truck, or vehicle up to 11,000kg as long it doesn't weigh more than 4,600kg.

Alternately, if you're more of a motorcycle rider, the Class M license might be of interest.

What documents are required for driving license in Ontario?

A driver’s licence application at DriveTest requires proof of the following:

  • Legal name
    • You'll be required to provide additional supporting documents if there is a variation in the names on the legal identification you present and the name that appears on your licence, as per DriveTest
  • Date of birth (must state the day, month, and year of birth)
    • A passport can be used to establish multiple required fields
  • Signature
    • Proof of identity requirements can be met by presenting one or multiple documents

There may be other documentation requirements for licence exchanges and out-of-country and out-of-province drivers.

"The full list of acceptable identification documents can be found on the following webpage," the ministry rep, Brasier told us.

How much does a drivers licence cost in Ontario?

DriveTest Centre in Brampton.

DriveTest Centre in Brampton.

Google Maps

There are different fees associated with different applications involved:

  • Driver’s licence like level G1, G2, G ($90)
  • Renew a driver’s licence ($90)
  • Replace a driver's licence ($35.75)
  • Replace a driving instructor’s licence ($35.75)
  • Penalties for drivers (starting from $60)

Can an immigrant get an Ontario driver's license? 

If you have a license from any of these places, you might be able to switch it for an Ontario one:

  • United States
  • Great Britain
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea
  • Australia
  • Northern Ireland
  • Austria
  • Ireland
  • Taiwan
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Republic of Ireland
  • the Isle of Man
To exchange it, your license can't be novice-class or a learner's permit. Those who have one to drive a motorcycle also can't exchange them for an Ontario one

If you're just visiting Ontario, you'll still need to have a valid license from where you're originally from and be at least 16 years old.

But after three months, you'll need an International Driver's Permit issued from your home jurisdiction, press secretary for the Ministry of Transportation, Dakota Brasier told Narcity.

"If they are visiting for more than three months in any one year, they must also have an International Driver’s Permit, which is issued by their home jurisdiction. Processing times are determined by the foreign jurisdiction, not Ontario."

Newcomers who are motorcyclists should be mindful that Ontario doesn't accept license exchanges from these countries.

So, that pretty much wraps this up. Did you find this information helpful or wish to see more questions answered on the subject? Let us know in the comments.

    Sophie Chong
    Editorial Assistant
    Sophie Chong is an editorial assistant for Narcity Media and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
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