Being able to get around as a newcomer is essential to feeling at home. While large cities will have accessible transit systems that are fairly easy to navigate, for many, driving is the primary transportation choice. The first step to driving in Ontario is obtaining a valid driver’s licence.
If you had previous experience as a driver in your country of origin, you may be able to transfer your licence to Ontario, shortening or even eliminating the testing process. Some countries included in the licence exchange will allow you to receive a full G class Ontario licence, however others will require additional testing.
In Ontario, there are several steps to complete before you can be a fully certified driver. A Graduated Licence system is used in order to slowly transition motorists from the learning stages to independent driving. The classifications include a G1 or beginners licence, G2, the intermediate stage and G licence which is the final step in the process. Completing this process usually takes a minimum of two years and you must be at least 16 years old to apply for your G1.
G1 – The vision test and a written test
The first step is passing a vision test and a written test about the rules of the road and traffic signs. You can study for the written test by reading the Official Ministry of Transportation Drivers’ Handbook. Once you pass both tests, you are considered a beginner driver and need to practice driving and gain experience over time.
The G1 tests must be completed at a DriveTest location. Once you are prepared to write the test, find a location convenient for you and also verify the specific location is able to accommodate your language of choice (if other than English) by calling ahead of time. A payment fee is required to take the test and you must present valid identification to be eligible. ID must include your date of birth, legal name and signature; a list of valid forms of ID can be found here.
Once you’ve passed the written test, you are now able to practise driving with an accompanying driver who has at least 4 years of driving experience. It is important to be aware of the limitations of a G1 licence. These include, but are not limited to, driving only between 5 am and 12 am, avoiding 400-series highways and having a blood alcohol level of 0.00.
G2 – The Road Test
After a minimum of 12 months, you may take your G2 road test at a DriveTest centre. It is recommended that new drivers take lessons with driving schools approved by the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario. By opting to take a ministry approved driver education course, a beginner driver may take the G2 road test after only 8 months and may also receive a discounted rate on automobile insurance. The G2 road test will assess basic driving skills such as turning, parking and changing lanes. Having your G2 will allow you to drive independently and with far fewer restrictions than your G1.
G – The full licence
Once you’ve successfully completed the G2 road test and maintained it for 12 months, you will be able to take the final G licence test. This road test will involve more complicated skills such as highway driving, 3-point turns and parallel parking. Upon completion of your G drivers test, you will be a fully licenced driver of cars, vans and small trucks.