Driving in Ontario: How to get started
By Aneesh Chatterjee
Posted on November 1, 2021
Canada is a vast country. Getting from point A to point B might be easy in condensed cities using public transit, but suburban areas have a lot of distance between them. Having a car gives you freedom, autonomy, and opens up new opportunities. That being said, a car is expensive, a big responsibility, and needs a lot of preparation. What are the most important things to check off your list before you buy your first car?
Getting your license
Depending on which province you stay in, the rules for getting your driver’s license can vary. Generally speaking, the process takes a few years to fully complete, and involves multiple tests. You will most likely start by passing a written test, which will ask you about driving rules, street signs, what to do in driving scenarios, and what’s legal. Following that, you may need to take multiple road tests to become fully licensed. While Ontario is mainly discussed here, this article breaks down the requirements for getting your license in each province.
Ontario’s system of getting a license is an extensive step-by-step process. As a new resident, you’re allowed to use the driver’s license of your home country for up to 60 days, after which you’ll need an Ontario license to drive.
How to apply
To get a driver’s license in Ontario, you’ll need to be at least 16 years old and pass a vision test. The vision test only takes a few minutes and is performed at the test center—which you can find using DriveTest, Ontario’s online portal for booking written tests and road tests. The portal lets you locate the closest center to where you live.
Booking a test package will cost you $159.75. This includes your written knowledge test to get a G1, the road test for a G2, and the cost of holding your license for five years between tests, after which the license expires. If you fail a test and need to retake it, there are additional fees. Every extra written test is $16; every extra road test for a G2 license is $53.75, and re-taking a G license road test costs $90 each time.
If your five-year license expires, the cost to renew your package is also $90. To avoid having to renew your license, make sure you book your G2 and G road tests as soon as you become eligible, which is after 12 months, or eight months if you complete a driver’s education program.
The testing center will need to validate your name, date of birth and proof of signature. There are many ways to do this, even if you’re not a Canadian citizen. Your foreign passport, Permanent Resident Card, Record of Landing (or Form 1000), or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (Form IMM 5292) are all valid ways to prove your identity. You can also use temporary immigration forms such as your Visitor Record (IMM 1442), including any work permit or student authorization.
Depending on what kind of vehicle you drive, you’ll need to get a specific type of license. This is important if you plan on getting a job as a truck driver or school bus driver, for example, because those require different licenses than the one you need to drive a car.
For your personal car, the G-class license (including the G1, G2 and G licenses) is needed. Getting to a full G license is divided into the G1, G2 and G tests. This process takes a few years, some patience, and a lot of practice!
The first step is getting a G1. You must pass a written test on road rules, driving skills and driving laws. You can only drive with a G1 license if you have an experienced driver (with a full license) sitting next to you in the passenger’s seat. You must keep your G1 for at least 12 months before you’re allowed to apply for the next step, or eight months if you complete a driver’s education program.
To get a G2 license, you must take a road test. This means taking a car to the test location and driving around a specific route while an examiner sits next to you and tells you where to go. If you follow all road rules and drive properly, you’ll get your G2 license. You must keep your G2 for at least 12 months before applying for the final step. Take this time to practice as much as you can! As you may guess, the G1 and G2 licenses come with certain restrictions on what you can do. These restrictions are listed here, and they explain what you cannot do with a G1 and G2 license until you complete your training.
The road test for a full G license is more advanced than the G2, as it involves highway driving, advanced lane changing, parallel parking and more complex skills.
If you’re from one of the listed eligible countries, it is also possible to exchange a driver’s license from your home country with a full Ontario G license. If you’re not from an eligible country, you can still use your original license to reduce the training you need to get a full Ontario license. This depends on how much driving experience you already have. The full summary on foreign license credit and how to exchange them can be found here.
Once you have your G, you’re a fully licensed driver in Ontario!