How to Get a Driving License in Canada

by Toni Owen

Canada's 10 provinces and three territories have their own requirements for driver licenses. Applications depend on the type of license one needs. Many provinces use the graduated driver licensing program for new drivers, and some vary the age requirements for commercial license holders. While some exchange valid licenses from other provinces or out of the country, others require written and road tests. Drivers with valid out-of-province or out-of-country licenses must get a local license, usually within 90 days. To do so, they must provide valid proof of residency. The department of transportation of provincial registry office can tell you the documents you will need.

The Process

Check for age requirements. New drivers can be as young as 14 for learner's permits in some cases. Most provinces require drivers to be 16 for a standard license. Find out if your province uses the two-step graduated driver licensing program. New drivers must pass two levels to obtain a full license, a process that can take 20 months. There are three tests--a written and two road tests--to pass both levels. Each level regulates the time the driver can be on the road and number of passengers that can be in their car. New drivers in the GDL program can reduce the qualifying period by passing an approved driver-education class.

Check age requirements for commercial drivers. In most of Canada, you must be 18 to get a license. Those who drive trucks or buses in their jobs, or who carry passengers, are required to take written and road tests in most cases.

Check if your license is from a country with reciprocal agreements with Canada. If so, and you have two years' experience behind the wheel, you may not have to take a driving test. A written test to ensure you know local road regulations is usually required. Arrange test appointments and fees through a provincial government office, online or with the professional examiner.

Establish which class of license you need. Provinces and territories have multiple levels of licenses. Alberta, for instance, has seven. Requirements such as age vary. Bus and truck drivers must be 18 in Alberta, for example, while passenger car drivers can apply at 16. Check with the department of transportation or the registry office in your province or territory for details. An average driver's license in Canada is good for six years.


  • check Some Canadian provinces, such as Ontario, may require a confirmation letter for driver's licenses from the department of motor vehicles in some states. Checking before you leave your state, and obtaining such a letter in person, is a wise precaution.


  • close Your current license must be valid to be accepted by Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

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