Things to know about Canada Driving licence

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Not being able to drive because of a lack of a few documents is all in the ’90s now. The following article deals with every tip and elaborates on each step required and the mandatory documents required to obtain a Canada driving licence.

If you have been thinking that driving in Canada is going to be easier since you have an impressive driving history with no license suspensions, no prior driving restrictions, and excellent command over the vehicle, then you might be getting fooled. The weather game in the country plays a huge role. Especially, winters make it quite a tough job to drive when it is all snowy and slippery.

Apart from it, road signs can be a huge factor in misunderstanding or even be something beyond the knowledge that the drivers from another nation carry with them.

Well, it is interesting to note that one might be able to directly exchange their driver’s license issued from another nation for a Canadian driving license depending on the country, without the need to sit for any driving tests or any knowledge test.

On the contrary, drivers from countries that are not in a treaty or alliance with Canada will have to complete all the driving testing requirements and will be required to sit for even a knowledge test even if they have a considerable number of years of experience driving outside Canada.

man enjoying car ride
Source: Freepik

Factors Influencing the Issuing of Canada Driver Licence 

A pro-tip before being overconfident and claiming yourself the best driver in town, there are certain factors that one needs to take into consideration.

1. Age Limit

The most prominent factor that comes into play while looking at the eligibility to obtain a Canada driving license is the age restriction. An important thing to note here is that every province has its own set of rules and hence changes with a different region.

The age requirement to legally begin learning to drive is 16 in almost all provinces, with the exception of Alberta, the province that allows its residents to obtain a learner’s license after the age of 14.

It is essential to be informed about the different categories of Canadian driving licenses that are issued by various provinces and their requirements. The various licenses also vary with the province and are elaborated on later in the article.

But, before all of that, dive into the prerequisites for anyone looking for a Canada driving license. First of all, listed below are certain things that one needs to ensure before leaving their own country and landing in Canada.

2. Before Landing in Canada

There are a few things to ensure before landing in your province or territory. The most significant is to get acquainted with the road rules, symbols, and road conditions of the place.

It is a wise decision to go thoroughly with the weather conditions, too, especially in Canada, because winters might be big trouble for a lot of individuals who do not experience a similar climate in their home country.

driving lesson dashboard instruction
Source: Freepik

3. International Driver’s Permit

The next thing to be done is to ask for an international driver’s permit from the home country’s licensing authority which will save you from the trouble of getting it translated to French or English when you land in Canada.

Another thing to be kept in mind is to get a document claiming your driving history from the licensing authority, which can lend you some extra credits while exchanging the previous one for a Canada driving license.

Obtaining a New Canada Driving Licence

A reminder before stating anything here is that a Canadian driving license requires different steps and requirements to be fulfilled depending on the province that a person is applying for the driver’s license.

Across Canada, Car insurance is mandatory and is regulated by the provincial government depending upon the regulations of the particular jurisdiction

However, there are three basic steps to obtaining a Canadian Driving Licence:

1. Learner’s License

The first step to applying for a Canada Driving license is to receive a learner’s license before everything. In order to get it, a person needs to pass a knowledge test and sometimes an eye test too.

A restriction here is that the person is not allowed to drive alone at any point in time with a learner’s license and has to keep accompanying a fully licensed driver.

2. Intermediate Permit

Once you have completed a year with the learner’s license, you can now sit for a road test and get yourself an intermediate license which allows you to drive alone but certainly has a few restrictions, precisely that the holder of such type of license cannot use any gadget while driving. Moreover, it is imperative to ensure a zero blood alcohol level to save yourself from penalties or license suspension.

3. Full Driver’s Licence

Finally, after two years of driving experience, you will be able to take a complete license driving test and hence become a fully licensed driver.

Elucidated below is a comprehensive list along with all the necessary details of province-wise requirements and rules and regulations for obtaining a new or exchanging an already existing valid driver’s license for a Canada driving license.

smiling driving instructor outside car
Source: Freepik

Province-wise Requirements for Canadian Driving Licence

1. Alberta

A driver can continue to drive with the driver’s license from their home country’s licensing authority for up to three months, after which an Alberta driving license is required in order to legally drive in the province. To obtain a Canada driving license or to exchange a driver’s license in Alberta, here are a few pointers to know along with the eligibility for different types of Canada driving licenses.

(a) Class 7

A Class 7 Licence is a learner’s license and can be obtained at the age of 14. The Canada driving license allows a person to drive cars with the restriction of a person who has a non-probationary license always accompanying the driver.

The Class 7 license holder can drive a moped alone but have to carry a consent form from their parents or guardian for an applicant under the age of 18. Another thing to be kept in mind is that this license holder has to maintain zero blood alcohol level and cannot drive between midnight to 5 am.

(b) Class 6

This license allows a learner to drive a moped without the supervision of a fully licensed driver. The applicant must be of 16 years and has to ensure zero blood alcohol level.

(c) Class 5 -GDL (Probationary)

This Canada driving license can be obtained only if the learner has held the Class 7 license for a year without suspension. This allows a driver to drive without any adult supervision but has greater restrictions than a non-probationary driver’s license.

A basic road test has to be qualified in order to obtain the license. Also, the driver with a Class 5 – GDL has to maintain zero blood alcohol content, and they cannot serve as a supervisor for a learner with a Class 7 learner’s permit.

(d) Class 5

A driver is eligible to apply for a full, non-probationary, class 5 license after having held the Class 5 – GDL license for at least 2 years without suspension and has to be not less than 18 years old.

An advanced road test has to be qualified to obtain a Class 5 license and is considered to be a fully licensed driver.

(e) Class 4

A class 4 license holder is permitted to drive taxis, ambulances, and buses with a passenger restriction of seating capacity of up to 24 passengers.

luxury car driving sunset journey
Source: Freepik

(f) Class 3

A class 3 license allows the driver to drive a motor vehicle with 3 or more axles and a motor vehicle with 3 or more axles pulling a tailor with one or more axles in the absence of air brakes.

(g) Class 2

A driver with a Class 2 driver’s license can operate a school bus and has all the eligibilities provided to a class 3 /4/5 driver’s license.

(h) Class 1

This permit allows a driver to drive any motor vehicle except a motorcycle since it is mandatory to have a class 6 license to be allowed to drive a motorcycle.

Further, after having a look at the different types of licence classes, it is important to note that anyone from the below-mentioned countries can directly exchange their driving license from their home country’s licensing authority for an Alberta driving licence.

  • Australia (Class 5 and 6).

  • Republic of Korea (Class 5).

  • Belgium (Class 5).

  • Taiwan (Class 5).

  • Germany (Class 5).

  • Isle of Man (Class 5 and 6).

  • United States (Class 5, 6, and 7).

  • Austria (Class 5).

  • Japan (Class 5).

  • Netherlands (Class 5).

  • France (Class 5).

  • Switzerland (Class 5 and 6).

  • United Kingdom (in Northern Ireland – Class 5, and 6).

  • United Kingdom (in England, Scotland, and Wales – Class 5).

Before obtaining a license from Alberta, it is necessary to surrender the license you are already holding. Also, in order to obtain a Class 5, non-probationary license, it is mandatory to have proof of at least 2 years of driving experience; otherwise, one can obtain a Class 5 GDL license.

driving test parking
Source: Freepik

2. British Columbia

A driver can drive in British Columbia for up to three months with their foreign license up to 90 days from their arrival, after which a driver’s license is issued by the licensing authority of British Columbia, which is called the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

A person can easily exchange their international driving license for a British Columbia driving license if they belong to Austria, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea (not motorcycles), New Zealand, Switzerland, Taiwan (for passenger vehicles only, not motorcycles), or the USA.

(a) Class 8L

This learner’s permit is specifically for motorcycles. The learner is required to qualify for motorcycle skills testing requirements in order to obtain this Canadian DL. The person has to be a minimum of 16 years old.

(b) Class 7L

This Canada driving license allows the driver to drive with a supervisor who is fully licensed and can also seat another passenger. It is mandatory for the person to ensure zero blood alcohol content and cannot drive between midnight to 5 am. After a year of holding a Class 7L license, the person needs to sit for a road test in order to advance their license level.

(c) Class 7 (Novice Permit)

A Class 7 N driver’s licence can be obtained once the person is 17 years of age and has successfully completed the Class 7L driving test. It acts as a valid license for up to 5 years, and the mandatory requirement is at least 2 years to qualify for the next level, which is Class 5, on successful completion of a 45-minute road test.

(d) Class 6

This gives the driver the right to drive a motorcycle without any restrictions.

(e) Class 5

This is a full Canada driving license without any restrictions on the driver.

(f) Class 4 Restricted and Unrestricted

Class 4 restricted license holders are allowed to drive ambulances, limousines, and even buses carrying people with special abilities and special vehicles. Also, it includes all the vehicles in Class 5.

driving school instructor cone training
Source: Freepik

(g) Class 3

It permits driving heavy trucks with more than 2 axles.

(h) Class 2

It allows the license holders to drive school buses, special activity buses, and more. The minimum age required is 19.

(i) Class 1

This Licence holder can drive semi-trailer trucks and various categories of vehicles, except motorcycles. The minimum age required is 19.

3. Manitoba

This province allows drivers to drive in Manitoba with their home country’s license for up to 90 days, after which it is mandatory to get a Manitoba driver’s license. Following are the classes under which a person can apply the license for as per the eligibility :

(a) Class 6M,6L,6I,6F

Class 6M Allows a person to take up a motorcycle training course, after completion of which a person can apply for a Class 6L license which is actually a learner’s permit. Further, after 9 months, a person can sit for a road test and apply for a 6I license upon successful completion. Finally, after 15 months, a person can get a full motorcycle license but has to ensure BAC for the first 2 years.

(b) Class 5L, 5I, 5F

The Class 5L license is a learner’s permit to drive a vehicle under the supervision of a driver who has held the full driver’s licence for at least 3 years and can be obtained only once the person is 16 years.

The CLass 5 I category is given to a person after 9 months of obtaining the 5L license and passing a road test wherein the person can drive at midnight but has to take only one passenger with them.

The CLass5 F can be obtained only after 15 months of the intermediate driver’s license being issued, which makes the person a fully licensed driver.

(c) Class 4 , 3 , 2 ,1

Class 4 permits driving ambulances, buses, and taxis while Class 3 deals with heavier vehicles like two-axle vehicles. Class 2 gives allowance to drivers to operate buses with a seating capacity of more than 24 and the Class 1 licence is for semi-trailer trucks.

4. New Brunswick

A person can apply for a Class 9 and Class 8 license at the age of 14 with parental consent and can apply for a Class 6 license after at the age of 16 years with parental consent.

Also, with parental consent, a person can apply for a Class 7 driver’s license which works under a graduated licensing program at the age of 16.

Further, once the applicant is 18, they can apply for a Class 5 or even an advanced license after completing the requirements and tests under the Graduated licensing system.

happy learner driver ok sign
Source: Freepik

5. Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador have several categories under which they provide licenses to the applicants. The first and most basic eligibility is age. A person can apply for a learner’s permit for a Class 5 license at the age of 16 and can only receive a license once they are 17, and the same applies to Class 6 vehicles.

Once the person has successfully completed the knowledge test and road test, they can obtain a Class 5 license which has several restrictions, one of them being that they should have an accompanying fully licensed driver.

After a year, the learner’s permit can be taken to an advanced level II after the successful completion of a road test. This carries lesser restrictions than the previous driver’s license. After 12 months of Level II, the driver is automatically advanced to a full driving license under the graduated licensing program.

6. Nova Scotia

At the age of 16, a person can obtain a learner’s license in Nova Scotia, also called a beginner’s license which further can be advanced to a Newly licensed driver’s license. 

The most common class of driver’s licenses is the Class 5 licence which permits a driver for driving cars, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles, and vans having a seating capacity of less than 24. Class 7 driver’s licence is a learner’s licence for all CLass 5 drivers. Further, Classes 1,2,3,4 deals with semi-trailers, large buses, buses with passengers of more than 24. Class 6 allows a driver to operate motor vehicles while Class 8 vehicles are for people willing to drive farm tractors.

7. Ontario

Ontario driver’s license has been distinguished into several categories and imposes certain restrictions according to the level of the license holder.

One can use their non-Ontario driver’s license for up to 60 days, after which an official Canadian driving licence is necessary. An added advantage is for those who have their license from the countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Isle of Man, and many more) as they can directly exchange it for an Ontario driver’s license.

Also, anyone holding another driving licence from another Canadian province can also directly get a driver’s licence in Ontario. ontario driver’s licence works under a graduated licensing system different for both passenger vehicles and motorcycles.

8. Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island allows foreign tourists who are on a 6 monthly tourist visa to drive without exchanging their driving licence for a PEI licence.

Also, a person can drive for up to four months in PEI with their driving licence and can continue till the time their driver’s licence is exchanged.

People who are non-residents but work under the agricultural or Fishing industry Canada guest worker program or seasonal agricultural worker program and hold a valid foreign licence equivalent to a Class 5 licence can continue to operate any Class 5 vehicles for 8 months in any given year without exchanging their licence.

The following steps have to be taken care of while applying for a driver’s licence in PEI:

  • Fill out an application form.

  • Provide necessary documents.

  • Pass a vision test.

  • Qualify a knowledge test and road test along with a written test.

  • Pay the applicable fees for territorial driver’s licence.

Once after turning 16 or older, PEI provides an instruction permit to the learner wherein the learner can legally drive and get driving lessons from an instructor. The license is valid for two years. Further, testing requirements include a knowledge test or road test, written or oral exam, road safety, and sign exam, a vision test, and a Driver’s Education course and are further allotted the driver’s license according to the Class of the vehicle.

9. Quebec

Quebec allows newcomers to drive without a Quebec driver’s licence for up to six months. For exchanging a licence, the following documents are mandatory :

  • Foreign licence.

  • Canadian PR or right to stay in Canada.

  • Proof of residency in Quebec.

  • Residential proof of home country, if a licence is obtained within the last three years.

  • Translation of the Driver’s licence if not in English or French.

Class 8 allows the operation of tractors and the minimum age requirement is 16 years. Class 6 is a motorcycle licence further subdivided into 6A,6B,6C,6D 6 D is for Mopeds or motorized vehicles. 6A includes all motorcycles while 6B and 6C come with restrictions on cylinders sizes of 400 ccs and 125 ccs or less.

new car buyer celebration dealership
Source: Freepik

10. Saskatchewan

A non-Saskatchewan driver’s license is valid for the first three months of arrival after which a valid driver’s licence issued by the provincial authorities is mandatory.

To obtain a new licence, the person has to pass written tests, obtain their leaner’s licence, then hold it for the next nine months, complete a certified driving course, and pass a road test to become a fully licenced driver and receive a valid driver’s licence.

The licence class 1 licence is for semi-trailer trucks, Class 2 permits operating buses with passengers more than 24. Class 3 is for those looking for permits to drive two-axle vehicles.

Class 4 is for taxis and CLass 5 covers cars, vans, taxis, and two-axle vehicles that do not weigh more than 4600 kg. Class 7 acts as a canadian driver’s licences for Class 5 and also is a motorcycle licence.

Closing Thoughts

The above-stated requirements are evidence of the strict policies that the country has when it comes to providing a resident or a non-resident with a canadian driver’s licence.

The rules and regulations are subject to change with modifications of laws within a particular province, therefore, it is highly advisable to go through the official website for ensuring eligibility and to know more about the mandatory documents for obtaining a international driving permit. 


Last Updated on by Narayani Bhardwaj

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