FOREIGN DRIVER’S LICENSE EXCHANGE IN ONTARIO, CANADA

FOREIGN-DRIVER’S-LICENSE

If you have just immigrated into Ontario from another country, or you are preparing to do so, it is possible for you to exchange your driver's license for a full Ontario license. Your original license has to be from a country that has an exchange agreement with Canada, and must be higher than a learner's permit or novice-class.

If your country does not have an agreement, you can use your driving experience to get credit towards obtaining your full Ontario license. The amount of experience you have will determine how far you can skip through the license program's mandatory process.

Below is our guide to help you exchange or get credit for your driver's license. 

Countries Eligible for Ontario License Exchange


The following countries have an exchange agreement with Canada: 

usa

United States of America

aus

Australia

austria

Austria

belgium

Belgium

france

France

germany

Germany

ireland

Ireland

japan

Japan

korea

Korea

newzealand

New Zealand

switzerland

Switzlerland

taiwan

Taiwan

uk

United Kingdom

Did You Know? More than 100,000 immigrants arrive in Ontario every year, especially in Toronto and the surrounding suburbs. That is almost half of the total number of new Canadians per year, making Ontario the most diverse province in the country!

How to Apply for a License Exchange


The application for an exchange must be made in person at an Ontario DriveTest centre, or the ServiceOntario location in Toronto at College Park. The exact requirements needed to complete your application will depend on exactly where you are immigrating from, the type of your license, documents you can provide, and amount of experience you have.

If you are immigrating into Ontario from a country that is eligible for a license exchange, you must provide the following documentation:

  • Current License — must be current or expired for less than one year and show the expiry date
  • Proof of Identity — must show your legal name, full date of birth, and signature
  • Driver's Abstract — must be dated within the last 6 months and indicate when your license was first issued

All documents must be translated into English or French (see below). You will also have to take an eye test, present the necessary and supporting documentation, fill out a form, and pay the necessary fees. In some circumstances you might also have to take a written or road test to prove your driving ability meets Ontario's standards. 

How Foreign License Credit Works


Normally, a new driver in Ontario has to complete the full program with mandatory testing and wait times between each step. The quickest you can complete the whole program to get a full G license is 20 months.

If you are not eligible for a license exchange, you might still be eligible to use your years of driving experience as credit to skip part of the Ontario Graduated License Program. Having more experience and supporting documents means you can skip more of the wait times.

Driving Experience Declared Must Take G2 Driving Exam? Must Take Full G Driving Exam?
Less than 1 year Yes - mandatory wait time reduced by credited experience Yes - with full mandatory wait time
More than 1 year, less than 2 years Yes - with no waiting period Yes - with full mandatory wait time
More than 2 years No Yes - with no waiting period

Regardless of how much experience you declare, you will have to complete an application process to be granted the foreign license credits. 

Useful Tip! Completing a driving lessons program will lower your insurance rates. It helps show the insurance company that you have professional training and are able to drive safely, so even if you can get an exchange or license credits and have lots of experience in your home country it can help you save money in the long run!

How to Apply For Foreign License Credit


To apply for this foreign license credit you must be 16 years of age or older and complete your application at an Ontario DriveTest location with the following:

  • Documentation — the same requirements as with license exchanges listed above
  • Pass a Vision Test — to establish that you can see well enough to drive or if you must legally use eye glasses in order to drive
  • Pass a Written Test — to prove that you understand Ontario's driving laws and practices
  • Pass One or Two Driving Tests — whether you are asked to pass one or two depends on your experience and documents
  • Letter of Authentication — if you declare more than 1 year of experience in your application

The Letter of Authentication is proof of experience and must come from the same region where you were issued your foreign license. The letter must be from the official letterhead, and dated within the 6 months of your application, from an embassy, consulate or High Commissioner's Office that represents the legal authority of your home region. It must also be translated into English or French (see below).

Useful Tip! If you don't have the documents to prove your driving experience at the time of the application, you can go forward with the application and have the experience added at a later date. This way you can get the application started and finish the process earlier.

Where to Find Licensed Translators


If you need to have your documents translated, you can find licensed translators in the major towns and cities across Ontario, such as Toronto or Mississauga. When submitting a translated document you must also show proof that the translator was qualified. There are slightly different qualifications that a translator must have depending on what part of the province you're in.

In North and Southwestern Ontario, translators must have one of the following qualifications:

  • Employment (current or former) as an interpreter
  • Membership (current or former) of a professional interpreter association
  • Experience as an interpreter as a member of the clergy

For the rest of the province, all interpreters and translators must be certified or accredited with a professional association in Ontario (such as the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario) or directly from the federal or provincial government.

For more information on the requirements and a breakdown of each region, you can check the DriveTest website here

Summary


No matter where in the world you are immigrating from, if you have driving experience the government of Ontario has made it easier for you to get your full license quicker than going through the process from the start. Make sure you do your research to know what exchange or credits you are eligible for, and what documents you will need to provide to complete your application. Good luck! 

You might also be interested in these guides:


Ontario Driver's License Guide
Guide to Ontario Driver's License Tests
How to Buy a Car in Ontario as a New Immigrant
Buying a Car with No Credit in Ontario