The Ontario Driver’s License Process for Immigrants
Are you planning to move to Ontario? One of the crucial documents you might need is a driver’s license. It does not just allow you to drive on Ontario roads, but it also serves as an identification document when seeking government services or others such as opening a bank account.
People love the idea of being able to legally drive around because of the associated freedom and convenience. With a driver’s license, you can move around Canada for work or tour scenic sites such as Niagara Falls without requiring a driver.
However, do you qualify for a driver’s license?
If you have a driving license from another country, you might be legally allowed to drive in Ontario using an international driver’s permit (IDP). However, this can only serve for a period of about 60 days. After that, you will need to get an Ontario driver’s license.
This post is a complete guide to the Ontario driver’s license process. It answers key questions that immigrants to Ontario might have, including “What are the different types of driving licenses in Ontario?” and “What is the process of acquiring a driving license in Ontario?”
The Canadian Reciprocal Driving License
The process of acquiring an Ontario’s driving license for an immigrant depends on the level of experience and the country that one is immigrating from. Canada has an agreement with a number of countries so that each other’s driver’s license is legally recognized.
Under the Ontario driver’s license exchange, you might be able to acquire a new Ontario license through a simple swap. The exchange program implies that you are already qualified and do not have to undertake another road or written test. Here are the countries that have entered into a reciprocal licensing agreement with Canada:
- The United States
- The United Kingdom
- South Korea
To get your local driving license exchanged for an Ontario or Toronto driver’s license, you are required to make an application in person at an Ontario DriveTest Center or the nearest Ontario service center. Here are the main documents you require to be eligible for a license exchange:
- Your current license: This is the current license that you hold from back home. The license should be current or expire in less than one year. It should also clearly show the expiry date.
- Proof of identity: These are documents such as the passport or government issued ID that show your legal name, date of birth, and signature.
- The driver’s abstract: This is a document indicating when the license was first issued. The abstract must not be more than six months old.
NOTE: All the documents must be written in English or French. If they are in a different language, you need another document translating them to English. Even with the above documents, you will still need to take an eye test and pay appropriate fees.
The Ontario’s Graduated Licensing Model
The licensing model in Ontario utilizes various levels of driving privileges aimed at assisting new drivers to improve their skills over time. As an immigrant, you might be required to commence at G1 (the beginner permit) or simply proceed to the next level. Here are the main levels that those switching to an Ontario driver’s license have to know:
- G1: This is referred to as the beginner’s permit. The applicant cannot drive without an adult and may be restricted from driving during some periods such as rush hours.
- G2: The intermediate permit allows the holder to drive on his/her own. It comes with fewer restrictions compared to G1.
- G: This is a full license that comes with no restrictions. If an immigrant swaps his home drive license for a level G permit under the Canada reciprocal model, he/she will receive a full license.
In many cases, immigrants get the G2 permit and complete a few tests for a full license (G-level permit) after a short waiting period. If you have a home license but cannot prove your driving experience, you will be required to start as a new driver.
How to Get An Ontario Driver’s License
When you decide to travel to Ontario, it is important to start the process of getting the Ontario or Toronto driving license back at home. This will ensure that everything is in place by the time you go to make the application in Ontario. Therefore, here is what you need to get from home country:
- A letter from your home driving licensing authority that authenticates your driving license.
- A translated copy of your driver’s license if it is written in a language other than English or French.
- Your international driving permit.
After arriving in Ontario, make sure to apply for the driving license by submitting the following documents to a drive test center nearby:
- Current driver’s license,
- Proof of former driving experience, and
- Proof of an identity document such as a passport.
Once the documents are submitted, you will be required to pass through a number of tests including the following:
- Vision test
- Written test to prove an understanding of Ontario’s driving laws,
- Pay the Ontario driver’s license fees, and
- The officer will also take a photo to be used to process your driver’s license
How to Replace Your Driver’s License in Ontario
If your license gets lost, damaged, or stolen, you can replace it at a service center in Ontario. You will need to visit the service center and provide personal notification documents such as a passport that can help to verify your date of birth, name, and signature.
The center will issue a temporary license that you can use for a period of 4-6 weeks as the license is processed. You will be required to pay a fee of 35 CAD.
For those outside of Ontario, it is still possible to replace the license if it is still valid. If it is suspended or canceled, you cannot get a replacement. You need to send the application to a service center and pay the required fee of 35 CAD. Make sure to include the mailing charges if you want the center to mail you the driving license.
The Ontario driver’s license process is designed to be simple, direct, and easy for all. As an immigrant, it is prudent to start thinking about the process well before the date to move to Ontario arrives. This is because there are crucial documents that you need from your local home licensing authority.
- After moving to Ontario, you will need to immediately make an application in any of the Ontario drive test centers.
- The process of issuing immigrants with a driver’s license in Ontario involves evaluating personal driving skills and experience on the road.
- Some testing will still be administered to test your vision and knowledge of Ontario driving rules.