If you’ve just finished your big move from the United States or some other country and into the Great White North that is Canada, one of the first things that you’re going to need to think about is getting a Canadian driver’s license.

The process that you need to go through to obtain the ever-important license is a bit different from the one that you may be used to.

A Canadian driver’s license becomes especially important when you start thinking about the topic of car insurance. Car insurance is sometimes the only way to make sure that you and your valuables are protected as you trek across the border.


International License

International licenses can be problematic as can be licenses issued by driving associations. It is important to note that the process that you will have to go through to get a Canadian driver’s license as a foreigner will change slightly depending on exactly which province you choose to live in. Driver’s licenses are typically issued by the transportation authorities within specific provinces, just like United States drivers licenses are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles within a specific state. Though the broad strokes of the process will be the same, you should always check with the transportation authorities in your specific province to make sure that you’ve got all of your documentation and requirements in order.

Graduated Licensing Program

The first thing that you will need to do when getting a Canadian driver’s license as a foreigner is go through your province’s graduated licensing program. The process requires that you begin with the “Learner’s Stage,” which requires a series of tests to make sure that you know the rules of the road in your area. You will then need to take an in-car “Class 7” road test to make sure that your driving skills are up to par and that you won’t be a hazard to other driver’s on the road. After passing the test you are issued a “Class 7” novice license which lasts at least 24 months. During this process you will also have to pass a vision screening test at a certified driver licensing office to make sure that your eyes are capable of meeting certain standards dictated by the province.

You will then be required to take another in-car driving examination at the end of the period before you are formally granted your official Canadian driver’s license.

It is also important to note that you may not actually have to go through the aforementioned process at all. Depending on where you’re coming from, you may simply be able to swap out your current foreign driver’s license for a Canadian one at a transportation office. If you are moving to Canada from the United States, for example, you can turn in your old license and get a full driver’s license at any time so long as your US license has been valid for more than two years. However, not all provinces in Canada will accept foreign licenses in the same way. Check with your local province for more details on the process.