How To Obtain an Ontario Driving License as a Foreigner or Visitor
If you’re visiting Canada with a temporary or permanent visa and you want to drive in Ontario province, it’s possible to acquire a driver’s license. However, the application process depends on the country you’re coming from and your driving experience.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to acquire an Ontario driving license as a foreigner or visitor. Let’s jump right in!
New Residents with Foreign Driver’s License
Suppose you’ve just arrived in Ontario as a new resident with a valid driver’s license from a different province, state, or country. In that case, you can use it for 60 days before replacing it with an Ontario driver’s license.
However, suppose you’re visiting Ontario for over three months with a foreign driver’s license. In that case, you can use an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) issued in your home country to drive in Ontario. The International Driver’s Permit must be applied outside of Canada to be valid.
Please note that you can only use the International Driver’s Permit for one year after it was issued. Also, the vehicle you’re driving must match the description of your license category.
License Exchange Program
Once you’ve stayed in Ontario for over 60 days, you can exchange your out-of-province or foreign driver’s license for an Ontario driving license.
However, you can only exchange your driver’s license if you’re from the United States, Belgium, Austria, Australia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, the Isle of Man, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Taiwan, Republic of Ireland and any Canadian province or territory.
Of course, you will need a full driver’s license (not a learner’s permit) to be eligible for the exchange program. In addition to that, you need to pass an eye test and submit the necessary documents to be processed and acquire an Ontario driver’s license. But if you have less than 2 years of driving experience, you need to pass the G2 road test to acquire a full driver’s license.
Please note that the exchange agreement doesn’t apply to a motorcycle driver’s license if you’re from France, Japan, Great Britain, Belgium, Austria, the Republic of Ireland, and the Isle of Man.
Acquiring an Ontario Driver’s License with No Exchange Agreement
If you’re a visitor from a country with no exchange agreement, you can still acquire an Ontario driver’s license. Nevertheless, obtaining a driver’s license depends on your driving experience. For starters, you need to present written confirmation of your driving experience; this could be verified by the embassy or department of transportation in your home country.
The written confirmation must be in English or French, and it shouldn’t be dated longer than six months. Other than that, the confirmation letter must include the date of registration, date of expiry, and class of license.
Here are the rules for acquiring a full Ontario driver’s license based on your experience:
Less Than 2 Years of Driving Experience
If you have less than one year of driving experience with a foreign license, you must pass the G1 and G2 road tests before you acquire a full driver’s license valid in Ontario. However, you have to gain at least 12 months of driving experience before you’re eligible for the road tests.
Besides that, you need to complete a written test and an eye test during the application successfully.
More than 2 Years of Driving Experience
If you have more than two years of driving experience with a foreign license, you will be first required to pass a written test and an eye test. After you’re done, you don’t need to take the G1 road test, but you must pass the G2 road test to acquire a full driver’s license valid in Ontario.
Applying as a New Driver
If you’re a visitor with no foreign driver’s license, you can apply for an Ontario driving license as a new driver. This means that you will have to go through the graduated license system in Ontario, which could take up to 20 months to complete.
During this process, you must first pass an eye test and a knowledge test to acquire the G1 driver’s license or learner’s permit. After 8 to 12 months of driving with a G1 or M1 driving license, you can take a road test to graduate with a G2 or M2 driving license. Once you have the G2 or M2 driving license, you can take another road test after 12 months to acquire the full Ontario driver’s license.
Since every case is different, we recommend you consult the Ontario Ministry of Transportation if you want to drive in Ontario with an international foreign driver’s license. Beyond that, if you’re preparing for the G1 or G2 road test, you should consider enrolling in a ministry-approved driving school in Ontario.