How to get a driver's license in Ontario by demonstrating prior experience in your country

Updated: Aug 18

When you move to Ontario, you can use a valid license from another province, state or country for 60 days. After the 60 days have passed, you must exchange it for an Ontario driver's license.


There are some countries that allow you to exchange your driver's license due to an exchange agreement in place with Ontario.


If you are coming from Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Isle of Man, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and Taiwan, you do not need to follow the information in this post, you will need to check the exchange agreement mentioned above.


If you do not meet the above category requirements, you may still be able to speed up the process and get credit for previous driving experience.


In this post I am going to focus on how you, as a newcomer, can get a G full driving license, in a couple of months, by demonstrating that you have driving experience in your country.


As always, I will leave a story here about what happened to Aldo when he was trying to complete this process.


Table of Contents


1. General requirements

2. Gathering documentation

3. Practice for the G1 exam

4. Take the G1 exam

5. Practice for the G full

6. Schedule the G full driving test

7. Day of the test for G full




Aldo, my partner, completed the written test in December 2021 and scheduled the G full test for January 2022.


We decided to pay for some private lessons to regain his driving confidence, especially since some road signs were different here in Canada.


Just the day before the test it was snowing, which was normal because it was winter, but the day of the test started out nice and sunny.


The instructor we hired lived in Toronto and the test was scheduled in Mississauga for that reason before the instructor arrived he asked Aldo to go to the driving test center to ask if the appointment was ok or if they needed to reschedule because of the weather.


Aldo went there by bus around 9:30 am and the appointment was at 12:00. However, they needed to arrive earlier, plus the instructor and Aldo were going to complete one more hour of practice before the test.


At the center they confirmed that the appointment was fine and that he had to give the test that day at noon.


Aldo waited for his instructor to arrive and they completed the hour of practice, then, they parked outside the center and Aldo went to take the test around 11:30 am.


When he went to the counter, the clerk told him, "All exams have been cancelled for today due to the weather."


He could not believe it, as he had supposedly confirmed at the same counter a couple of hours ago.


Finally, he had to reschedule, pay for a new class and an additional day to rent the car, so our big recommendation is that if you can do this whole process in the summer, it would be perfect, in the winter you could expect rescheduling due to the weather.

 

In general, to get your Ontario driver's license you must get the G1, G2 and finally G full driver's license.


For most people, the process to go from a G1, then G2 and finally G full takes about 20 months to complete.


This is the long run, but you, as a newcomer to Canada, can expedite this process if you have had experience in your home country.


With your current driver's license plus your country's experience you can get your Ontario driver's license by going from G1 directly to G full, saving the time of 12 months of practice for each.


As I mentioned in the introduction in this post I will focus on how to get the G full driver's license as a newcomer by showing that you have experience in your country.


If you have a driver's license from your country, with 1 or more years of experience, you can process your Ontario driver's license faster. How can you do this? Follow the steps described in this post.


Image of a paper indicating Application and a computer to demonstrate that after 60 days you have to apply for an Ontario driver's license
After 60 days, you need to exchange your driver's license for an Ontario driver's license | Photo by Markus Winkler


1. General requirements


To apply for an Ontario driver's license, validating previous experience, you must:


  • Be at least 16 years of age

  • Have your documents validated through your country's consulate in Canada.

  • Pass an eye test

  • Pass a knowledge test on traffic regulations and road signs (G1).

  • Pass a practical test on city driving and highway access (G full).

It doesn't sound that difficult, but let me break down each step in more detail.


2.Gathering documentation


2.1 Original foreign driver's license and official letter


The first document you need to prove your driving experience is the original foreign driver's license.

If you want to prove more than one year of driving experience, you will also need an official letter from the foreign government or the agency that issued the driver's license, confirming the authenticity of your license. This letter must be in English or French.


To complete this document, Aldo contacted by email the Consulate of Chile in Canada, located in Toronto, and they responded with a series of instructions to follow.


He was asked to mail the Consulate his driver's license, his national identity card or passport, a letter addressed to the consul explaining the requirement, 2 Canada Post XpressPost prepaid envelopes and a money order for 10 USD.


The Consulate scanned the driver's license and enclosed a letter. In addition, they issued a driver's record in Spanish to prove experience.


Note: If you are a Chilean citizen, this is the email to contact the Consulate of Chile in Canada (Toronto): toronto@consulado.gob.cl


If you are from another country, try to find the contact of your corresponding consulate.


Authority signing an official letter
An official letter from the foreign government or the agency that issued the driver's license is required | Photo by Media from Wix


2.2 Translation of documents


If your documentation is in a language other than English or French, you will need to have it translated. This translation must be done by some specific institutions.


Once you have your documents validated, you will need to have them translated into English by a certified agency. You can find the list of certified agencies on this link.


Aldo did the translations with the Ontario Translation Agency. They were quick and easy to arrange.


He scheduled an appointment and brought his original documents, they reviewed them and prepared copies. Then he paid and a couple of days later they contacted him by email with a preliminary draft for his review.


Once he approved the draft and confirmed it by email, they printed and stamped the translations in final format. They also informed him by email of the date to pick up the envelope.


The average turnaround time is 2 days from the date of your approval, so from the time you pay until you have it in your hands, you should have approximately 1 week.


The value of translations varies, with a regular rate: $59 (Ontario) per sheet (at the time of Aldo's processing). You can make your quotations and consultation on the website.


In total, Aldo paid $150.29 CAD for the translations.


2.3 Acceptable ID


To apply for an Ontario driver's license at a Drive Test center you will be asked to show proof of your legal name, date of birth (day, month and year) and signature.


In this case there are several options of documents you can present. Aldo used his passport. Here is the link where you can find other options.


Image of Chilean Passport
Passport serves as proof of identity | Photo by @djshockchile


3. Practice for the G1 exam


Once you have gathered all the documents, you are ready to take your G1 exam. So if you want to save study time, parallel to gathering the documentation, follow the process of preparing for the exam.


The G1 exam is a written test with driving regulations in Ontario.


You must be prepared for the exam, even if you have some or many years of experience in your country, it is necessary to keep in mind that Canada has some particularities, such as signaling, speed management and school zones, to name a few.


Therefore, remember to be well prepared to pass the exam on the first try.


You can study on different platforms, here are the ones that helped Aldo pass his exam on the first try:



Image of a traffic light and a signal indicating No turn on red
The G1 exam is a written test with driving regulations in Ontario | Photo by Media from Wix


4. Take the G1 exam


To apply for and take the knowledge test, you must find a Drive Test center.


I recommend that you make an appointment after you have prepared or while you are studying for the test, as you may be able to take the test the same day you schedule it, as was Aldo's case.


The knowledge tests are done fluently, every day and in several languages, so when you pay they will ask you if you want to take the exam the same day and in which language.


The cost at that time was 106 CAD.


To apply for and take the required knowledge tests, visit:

  • a DriveTest center (no appointment necessary) - You can search for one near you here:

  • the Service Ontario Bay and College location in downtown Toronto schedules by appointment only.

Ideally, you should be prepared to pass the test on the first attempt. But don't worry, if you fail you can retake the exam, but you will have to pay each time you take it.


If you pass the exam you will be given a provisional G1 license, on paper and with an expiration date. Your final plastic card license will arrive at your mailing address in about 15 days).


5. Practice for the G full


Even if you have enough experience in your home country, some rules are different in Canada.


It is very important that you practice as much as you can with a friend, family member or driving school that is qualified and knows how to guide you on the key points to keep in mind.


Our suggestion is that you look at some of these alternatives:

  • Hiring a course at a driving school.

  • Hire a driving instructor.

  • Renting a vehicle

It is necessary to have a car to take the driving test.


If you do not have one, a good option to avoid renting a car is to purchase a course or driving school, since they include packages of classes and the car for the day of the test.


Some private tutors also do this, of course with an associated cost.


Image of driving instructor showing a checklist to an beginner driver
It is a good idea to take practice classes | Photo by Media from Wix

6. Schedule the G full driving test


To schedule and perform the road test, you can do it online, by phone or at any Drive Test Center. The cost is 91.25 CAD.


I recommend you schedule it while you are already practicing, as appointments usually have a 1 month wait date (at least that happened to Aldo in December 2021). Here are the options:



To book an appointment for the road test, you will need to provide:


  • your Ontario driver's license number (including expiration date)

  • a preferred test location

  • a second and third choice of location

  • a preferred date and time

If you need to cancel the test, you must do so at least 48 hours prior to the appointment to avoid cancellation fees.


7. Day of the test for G full


On the day of the road test, you must be present at least 30 minutes before to register.


You must bring your G1 license (on paper if you don't have the definitive one yet) and park your car in one of the parking lots enabled for the test, they are usually numbered and signposted.


Image of a young woman giving a driving test
Arrive prepared for the day of the road test | Photo by Media from Wix

The general steps are:

  • Arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled time.

  • Park the car in a special place for the test (remember the parking number).

  • Take a front photograph of the car. You will be asked for the license plate, make, model, color and parking number.

  • Stop by customer service and announce your name and schedule time.

  • You will be asked for your G1 license, confirmation of your personal data, the vehicle data mentioned above, if you have experience driving on highways and how many times you have driven on them.

  • Once the schedule has been confirmed, you can wait in your car for an Inspector to approach it.

  • The Inspector will identify the vehicle and ask for your G1 to confirm your identity. He/she will also ask you to check the turn signals, brake light and horn sound.

  • He/she will proceed to enter the car and will give you all the instructions to follow for the test, listen very carefully because you will have to give your consent by a signature.

  • At the end of the ride, he/she will give you feedback or important observations, if you have passed or not.

If you pass... You will have to go back to the office to pick up your new full G license.


You will be issued a provisional G license, on paper and with an expiration date.


Your final license on plastic card, as well as the G1, will be sent to your mailing address in about 15 days.

 

I hope this post will help you organize and plan your process to get your full G driver's license in Ontario.


If you are ready to take your test and are just reviewing the latest information to make sure you are not forgetting anything, I wish you a successful outcome on your tests.


If you have any questions that I can help you with feel free to contact me.


And tell me, did you know about this abbreviated process to obtain the G full license?

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