If you have moved to Canada from another country, you likely need a car to get around and explore this vast country. Whether you have driven in your old country or not, getting licensed and insured in Canada involves a few steps. Here's what to expect:
Transferring Your Driving Experience from Your Home Country to Canada
If you are from a country that has a reciprocal license agreement with Canada, you can get a license fairly easily. Countries with reciprocal agreements include the United States, Australia, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Korea. To get a Canadian driver's license, you need an original abstract (record) of your license with the date that it was originally issued.
Proving Driving Experience for Non-Reciprocal Countries
If you are not from a country with a reciprocal relationship with Canada, you need written confirmation of your driving experience. It must be in English or French or have been translated by a certified translator, and it must include the date you first begin driving. That date determines the type of license you can get within Canada's graduated licensing system.
Understanding Graduated Licensing
Graduated licensing programs grant drivers their licenses slowly. Canadian drivers are required to drive with an instructor or a licensed driver for several months, and they are required to take one written test and two road tests before they have full driving privileges.
Reviewing the Testing and Licensing Process
To get started, you need to take a vision test and a written test about the rules of the road. If you pass the written test with at least an 80 percent score, you earn your G1 permit. With this permit, you can legally drive but only as long as you have a sober licensed driver in the car with you at all times.
Once you have 12 months of practice behind the wheel, you can take the G1 road test. If you pass that test, you get a G2 license. A G2 license is basically a full license, but you are not allowed to drive with a blood alcohol level of over 0 percent. After 24 months with the G2 license, you can take the G2 test and get a G license.
A G license is a full license that allows you to drive whenever you want. The only reason you would have to take additional tests at this point is if you wanted to become a commercial driver like a truck driver.
If you have proof that you have at least 24 months of driving experience in your home country, you can start this process with the written test and the G1 or G2 road test. Regardless of where you start this process, you are legally allowed to buy and own a car. However, you cannot drive your car unless it is properly insured.
Insuring Your Car
In every province you need liability coverage, and in most provinces, you also need coverage for accident benefits and bodily injury (AB/BI). AB/BI coverage covers your income losses and medical expenses after an accident. If desired, you may also add collision and comprehensive coverage to your policy.
Saving Money on Insurance
Unfortunately, if you do not have a full G license your insurance will be more expensive. To avoid paying extra fees, consider waiting to insure yourself until you have a full G license. Alternatively, you could add yourself to another person's policy and be grandfathered into their rate. If that is not an option, consider a car sharing program instead of buying your own car. You can also save money on your premiums by enrolling in a driver's education class.
Getting Auto Insurance Quotes
Before you get behind the wheel of a car, make sure that you have the right license and insurance. Call an insurance agent to make sure that you are fully compliant with local regulations. An agent can give you a quote on auto insurance premiums, and he or she can answer any additional questions you have about licensing in Canada.