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Driving with a Foreign Drivers License in Ontario, Canada

Planning on buying a Car in Ontario and using a Foreign Drivers License has been a matter that calls for addressing since most immigrants require mobility as an essential aspect of settling in Canada.

Let’s say Maryam has a Tunisian driver’s license, which cannot just be replaced with an ON license. She intends to buy a car within the first few days after she arrives and plans on paying cash. But how can she process the car insurance with a foreign driver’s license? She doesn’t know how long it takes to get the license.

If you find yourself in such a situation and cannot purchase a car or obtain car insurance with a Foreign Drivers License. You can learn about licensing procedures here: Link AND, Link.

The first thing to note is that you must provide your Ontario driver’s license to register the bought vehicle; however, there is some helpful information on the Ontario motor licensing website, which is embedded in the ‘link’ above.

You cannot buy a car without a G2 driver’s license, but you can obtain an international driver’s license from your Tunisian one, and with this, you can drive for almost three months using this license.

The Possibility of Driving in Ontario with a Foreign Drivers License

Without an Ontario driver’s license, you cannot buy a car or even get car insurance in Canada; however, with an international or Foreign Drivers License, you can still drive a car around.

You could rent a car or use that of a friend throughout your stay in Canada without a Canadian driver’s license. But for smooth driving in Canada with a foreign license, you must get an International Driving Permit (IDP) from the country you are moving from.

Having an IDP allows you to have your foreign license translated into English or French.

Renting a Car with Foreign License in Ontario

You can choose public transportation until you have your Canadian driving license; however, for convenience’s sake, you might want to rent a car. Car renting is widely accepted in Canada, particularly in big provinces like Ontario, and many car rental services are available and they offer various services to suit different people.

The cost of renting a car in Ontario depends on various factors, such as the type of vehicle you wish to rent, the car’s length, and the time or season of the year. Most car rental services charge clients per day, and you can also decide to rent a car for more than a day, which will bring extra charges.

Requirements For Renting A Car In Canada

To rent a car in Canada;

  • You must not be younger than 21
  • You have a valid driver’s license (this could be a foreign driving license) and an International Driver’s Permit.
  • You can also present an international driving license, which will only be recognized alongside your original driver’s license.
  • A credit card with the same name as your driver’s license.
  • If you are between the age range of 21 to 24, you may be charged extra when renting a car.
  • You may also be restricted to renting only certain kinds of cars, and driving with a child in the car will also incur extra charges.

Foreign Driver’s License Exchange In Ontario, Canada

If you are lucky to come from a country with an exchange agreement with Canada, you can exchange your foreign driving license for an Ontario driving license. The countries eligible for driving license exchange in Canada are:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

You must be physically present to apply for a driving license exchange in Ontario and make an application for exchange in any of these locations:

You will be required to provide the following:

  • Your current license (an expired license is still tenable if it has been expired for less than a year)
  • A recent Driver’s License
  • Proof of identity

Since there are driving limitations for those who do not have an Ontario driving license, you should start working on getting your license as soon as you arrive in Canada.

Obtaining a License Exchange: How to Apply

The exchange application must be submitted in person at an Ontario DriveTest facility or the ServiceOntario office in College Park, Toronto.

The particular country from which you are applying for immigration, the kind of license you have, the documentation you can submit, and your level of expertise will all affect the precise requirements needed to complete your application.

The following paperwork is required if you are coming to Ontario from a nation that is qualified for a license exchange:

  • Current License: This document must be in effect or have an expiration date that is less than one year away.
  • Proof of Identification – must include your legal name, full date of birth, and signature.
  • Driver’s Abstract — must show the date your license was initially granted and be dated within the last six months.

You must also take an eye exam, provide the required documentation, complete a form, and pay the required costs. All documents must be translated into either English or French. Sometimes, you may need to pass a written or driving exam to demonstrate that your driving skills are up to Ontario’s standards.

Obtaining a Driving License in Ontario, Canada

Being permitted to use an out-of-province or overseas driving license does not automatically imply being able to buy a car. You can instead rent a car or use a friend’s car using those licenses.

  • To buy a car under your name, you will require your license and need to obtain insurance.
  • You cannot buy the car without insurance, as this is necessary for the transfer documentation and registration paperwork.
  • Also, you must provide your Ontario driver’s license while registering the bought vehicle.
  • Anyone 16 or older can apply for a driver’s license in Ontario. However, the process you will undergo depends on your experience with driving.
  • If you are new to driving, you must learn and gain experience following the two-step process offered by the Province of Ontario, and this process can take up to two or three years to finally get a full driving license.

Requirements for Obtaining a Driver’s License in Ontario, Canada

You must be physically present at the Drive Test Centre or the Service Ontario in Toronto to apply for a driver’s license. There are up to 15 different kinds of driving licenses in Ontario, depending on your level of experience in driving.

The basic requirements for obtaining any Foreign Drivers License in Ontario are:

  • You must be 16 years old or more
  • Must pass an eye test
  • You must pass a written test on road signs and traffic rules

As a Canadian citizen, you need to present any of the following:

  • Canadian passport
  • Canadian Citizenship Card
  • Ontario Photo Card

As a permanent resident, you can present any of the following documents:

  • Permanent Resident (PR) Card
  • Record of Landing
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence
  • Ontario Photo Card

If you are still a foreign resident, you can present any of the following documents for identification:

  • Work Permit
  • Study Permit or Student Authorization
  • Temporary Resident Permit
  • Refugee Status Claim
  • Visitor Record
  • Ontario Photo Card

Obtaining a Foreign Drivers License and What it Means

By providing the required documents and passing the necessary tests, you can get a G1 driving license as a novice to driving. Once you begin the Ontario driving license process by obtaining a G1 license, you can no longer use your foreign or international driving license.

You may be allowed to buy a car with a G1 license, but the insurance and buying rates will be very high. Therefore, it would be best not to rush to buy a car until you have passed the G2 test. Previous driving experience in your initial country (with documents to prove so) can hasten up your two-step process.

After that, you may not even have to undergo the G1 process. Some restrictions are placed on your driving, depending on the stage you are on, and you will be exposed to these restrictions as you go through these stages.

Such restrictions could be having access to certain vehicles, driving only on specified types or roads, always having someone with a G2 license with you while driving, and many more.


Is Driving a Car in Canada easy?

Yes, driving a car in Canada is very easy. Canada is not left behind regarding infrastructure, such as good road networks, and you will find it easy to find your way around the country by car.

Is Buying a Car in Canada Expensive?

A car in Canada is relatively expensive compared to other countries, including the USA. However, different car models are available in Canada depending on your budget and what you want, and if you find the price of buying a new car on the high side, you may go for a used car. These are less expensive and should still serve you well enough.

How Long Can You Use a Foreign Driving License in Canada?

You can use a valid foreign driving license in Ontario, Canada, for 60 days. After this number of days, you must have an Ontario driving license to drive around town.

How Long will it Take to Process a Driving license in Ontario, Canada?

Getting a full driving license in Ontario, Canada can take a few weeks to three or more years. The time taken depends on how experienced you’ve been with driving before immigrating to Canada. Having a foreign license will also speed up obtaining an Ontario driving license.

Can I drive in Canada with my international driver’s permit (IDP)?

Canada accepts the International Driver’s Permit (IDP).

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