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In Canada, driver's licences are issued by the government of the province and territory in which the driver is residing. Thus, specific regulations relating to driver's licences vary province to province, though overall they are quite similar. All provinces have provisions allowing non-residents to use licenses issued by other provinces and International Driving Permits. Many provinces also allow non-residents to use regular licenses issued by other states and countries. Canadian licences are also valid in the United States and many other nations due to various international agreements and treaties.

Contents

Age of eligibility

Canada's driving age is determined on a province-by-province basis.

The driving age in the various Canadian provinces are:

Alberta[1][2]

  • Learner's Permit (Class 7): This permit can be obtained at 14 years of age, and can only be used when a non-probationary licensed driver (see below) over the age of 18 is accompanying the driver. However, mopeds may be driven without an accompanying driver. A knowledge test requiring a mark of at least 83% as well as a vision test must be passed.
  • Motorcycle / Moped (Class 6): This permit allows an operator to drive a motorcycle or moped. Minimum licensing age is 16.
  • Probationary Driver's Licence (Class 5, Probationary): This licence can be obtained at age 16 if the driver has had a Learner's Permit for at least a year. This licence allows one to drive without an accompanying fully licensed adult, although it has more restrictions than a non-probationary licence, including fewer allowed demerit points. A road test must be passed to obtain this licence.
  • Non-probationary Driver's Licence (Class 5): This licence can be obtained after having had the probationary Driver's Licence for two years without suspension, therefore the applicant must be at least 18 years of age. An advanced road test must be passed to obtain this licence. A driver with this licence is referred to as a "fully licensed driver".
  • Class 4: This permit allows the operator to drive a taxi, ambulance, or bus with seats for up to 24 passengers. Minimum learning or licensing age is 18.
  • Class 3: This permit allows an operator to drive a single motor vehicle with 3 or more axles, or a motor vehicle with 3 or more axles pulling a trailer with one or more axles (assuming the trailer does not have airbrakes).
  • Class 2: This permit allows an operator to operate any bus, in addition to the vehicles permitted by holders of class 3/4/5 permits. Minimum learning or licensing age is 18.
  • Class 1: This permit allows an operator to operate any motor vehicle except a motorcycle. Minimum learning or licensing age is 18.

British Columbia[3][4]

  • Class 8L (Motorcycle Learner's Permit): This permit can be first obtained at age 16, just as the Class 7L. There are many restrictions until the rider passes a "Motorcycle skills Test," which is conducted on a parking lot and involves basic maneuvering skills. After this test, the rider can ride alone, with much fewer restrictions.
  • Class 7L (Learner's Permit): This permit can first be obtained at age 16, and requires a person under the age of 19 to be accompanied by their parent/legal guardian. To obtain this permit, one must take a medical and knowledge test, which requires 80% to pass. A person holding this licence must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver over 25. The driver must maintain a blood-alcohol count of 0 (i.e. none in their blood), display a large 'L' decal on the back of their vehicle, have no more than two passengers (including the supervisor), and must not drive between 12AM-5AM. The 7L licence is good for two years. After 12 months (9 if the person has taken an approved driving course before March 31, 2007), the driver may take a 45 minute driving test to advance to the next level.
  • Class 7 (Novice Permit): Also called the "N" stage minimum age 17, the permit is obtained after completion of the Class 7L driving test. A Class 7 licence is good for five years, and the stage takes a minimum of two years to complete (Unless the person graduates from an accredited driving course, then it's 1.5 years). Drivers must display a large 'N' decal on the back of their vehicle. Restrictions include 0 blood alcohol and a limit of one passenger (the limit being waived for anyone in the immediate family). Furthermore, any infraction of the traffic law by the possessor of a Class 7 Licence can result in a prohibition, after which the possessor must begin the Class 7N program from the start. After two years, the licence-holder may take the 60 minute Class 5 road test. Passage grants a full licence (a Class 5 passenger vehicle licence).
  • Class 6 (Motorcycle Licence): This licence allows the holder to operate a motorcycle with no restrictions.
  • Class 5 (Full Vehicle Licence): This is a full passenger-vehicle licence. It has no additional restrictions, unlike the Class 7 licences.
  • Class 4 (Commercial licence): Permits the holder to operate taxis, limousines, ambulances, special buses used to transport people with disabilities and other special vehicles - also permits the holder to operate vehicles in Class 5. Minimum age: 19.
  • Class 3 (Commercial licence, heavy trucks): Permits the holder to operate trucks with more than two axles, including dump trucks and large tow trucks - also permits the holder to operate vehicles in Class 5. Minimum age: 18.
  • Class 2 (Commercial licence, buses): Permits the holder to operate buses, including school buses, special activity buses and special vehicles - also permits the holder to operate vehicles in Classes 4 and 5. Minimum age: 19.
  • Class 1 (Commercial licence, semi-trailer): Permits the holder to operate semi-trailer trucks - also, permits the holder to operate all motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles except motorcycles. Minimum age: 19.

British Columbia has been using a graduated licensing system since August 1998.[5] The program was last revised in October 2003, which involved large changes in the time it took to acquire a licence (previously, a person could complete the Class 7L stage in as little as 3 months, and the Class 7N in 12, and no passenger limit was enforced above Class 7L). Except for people holding a valid driver's licence from: other Canadian provinces, the US, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea, British Columbia requires all the new residents to take a knowledge test and a road test in order to get a BC Driver's Licence.[6]

Manitoba[7][8]

  • Class 6 (Motorcycle Licence): This licence allows the holder to operate a motorcycle. Minimum age: 16.
  • Class 5L (Learner's Vehicle Licence): Must have a supervisory driver in the front seat who has held a full licence for at least 3 years and has a BAC < .05, can have as many passengers as there are working seat belts in rear. Eligible to take the class 5I road test after a minimum of 9 months. Minimum age: 16 (15.5 if entered in high school driver's education program)
  • Class 5I (Intermediate Vehicle Licence): Acquired upon successful completion of road test. Must have 0 BAC. Only passenger restrictions are from midnight to 5am either only 1 front seat passenger, or a supervisory driver plus as many seatbelts as there are in the rear.
  • Class 5F (Full Vehicle Licence): This is a full passenger-vehicle licence. It has no additional restrictions. Acquired after a minimum of 15 months with a class 5I licence. The licence holder is now eligible to upgrade to a class 1-4 licence if 18 years of age or older.
  • Class 4: Permits the holder to operate taxis, ambulances, other emergency vehicles, busses with a passenger capacity of 10-24, and school busses with a capacity of 10-36 - also permits the holder to operate vehicles in Class 5. Minimum age: 18.
  • Class 3: Permits the holder to operate trucks with more than two axles, including dump trucks and large tow trucks - also permits the holder to operate vehicles in Class 4 and 5. Minimum age: 18.
  • Class 2: Permits the holder to operate buses with a seating capacity of over 24, and school busses with a seating capacity of over 36 - also permits the holder to operate vehicles in Classes 3, 4 and 5. Minimum age: 18.
  • Class 1: Permits the holder to operate semi-trailer trucks - also, permits the holder to operate all motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles except motorcycles. Minimum age: 18

Newfoundland and Labrador[9]

In Newfoundland and Labrador, one can apply for a learner's license for Class 5 vehicles (passenger car or light truck) at the age of 17 and cannot obtain their license until turning 18, as well as Class 6 vehicles (motorcycles).[10] Upon completion and pass of a written knowledge test and a vision test, a Class 5 Level I license will be issued. This license, commonly referred to as a "learner's permit" restricts holders to one passenger in the vehicle, a licensee of no less than 4 years, a blood alcohol level of 0% and no driving between 12am and 5am. A "novice driver" sign must also be placed on the rear windshield. Parental consent is required for applicants under the age of 19.[11]

After 12 months in Level I, or 8 months with the completion of a government-approved driving school program containing both classroom and in-car training, a road test can be taken to advance to Level II. Upon successful completion of the road test, one is advanced to Level II of the graduated licensing program. Level II lasts for 12 months and carries less restrictions than the initial stage. Passengers are permitted during the day but between 12am and 5am, the Level II driver must be accompanied by a licensed driver with 4 years driving experience and cannot have any other passengers in the vehicle. The drivers' Blood Alcohol Content must remain at 0% in this stage.

After 12 months in Level II, the driver is automatically advanced to a full Class 5 license (unless their license was suspended in the learners stage).

Newfoundland and Labrador uses a demerit point system. In two years, a driver can accumulate a maximum of 12 points, although in the novice stage, a maximum of 6 points can be accumulated.[12]

The classes in Newfoundland and Labrador are as follows[13]:

  • Class 1 - permitted to operate semi-trailer trucks
  • Class 2 - permitted to operate buses over 24 passengers
  • Class 3 - permitted to operate trucks with 3 or more axles
  • Class 4 - permitted to operate taxis, ambulances, all Class 5 motor vehicles and buses up to 24 passengers
  • Class 5 - permitted to operate all motor vehicles with less than 2 axles and combination of vehicles where the towed vehicle doesn't exceed 4500kg. Buses, taxis and ambulances while not carrying passengers, self propelled motor homes with 2 or more axles, farm tractors, fork lifts and emergency vehicles excluding ambulances, trucks designed for off highway use and vehicles commonly known as backhoes. A minimum of 1 year with a class 5 license is required before one can apply for a commercial class license.
  • Class 6 - permitted to operate motorcycles
  • Class 7 (phased out) - former learner stage of classes 5, 6 and 8
  • Class 8 - permitted to operate traction engine vehicles

Nova Scotia[14]

  • Age: you must be at least 16 years old , with the passing of a multiple choice road theory test and an eye vision test, a driving permit is issued which allows the learning driver to drive on roads accompanied by someone with full valid driver's licence whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.05 [15]
  • For Class 7 or 8 licences shows, the Learner's stage of the system lasts for 6 months, which may be reduced to three months if a recognized driver education or training program is taken. Operating conditions at this stage include: No passengers, except an experienced driver who holds at least a Class 5 licence; and, zero blood alcohol level for the learning driver. suspensions will delay graduation to the newly licensed driver stage by the minimum time requirement; that is, three months if a recognized driver education or training program was taken, six months if not. Once a road test has been successfully completed, the learner becomes Newly Licensed for a minimum of two years. Operating conditions include: Zero blood alcohol level for the newly licensed driver; Only one front seat passenger and rear seat(s) passengers limited to the number of available seat belts; No upgrade beyond a Class 5 driver's licence; and, No driving between midnight and 5:00AM, unless accompanied by an experienced driver. A newly licensed driver may apply for an exemption from the night time driving curfew for employment purposes. The driver must take the most direct route to and from work, and is not permitted to have any passengers in the vehicle.
    • To "graduate" from the newly licensed driver stage, the driver must successfully complete a 6 hour Defensive Driving course or complete the full Driver Training Course (25 hours theory, 10 hours driving time). A copy of your graduation certificate must be provided, in person or by mail, to any Registry of Motor Vehicles office for recording purposes. Licence suspensions will delay graduation to the regular driver stage by two years from the date the licence is reinstated.

Ontario[16]

  • Learner's permit (G1): Available at the age of 16, with the passing of a multiple choice road theory test and an eye vision test, a G1 licence is issued which allows the learning driver to drive on roads accompanied by someone with full valid driver's licence whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.05 and has been licensed for four years. The driver also cannot drive on 400-series highways and other high-speed expressways (unless accompanied by a licensed instructor) or between 12:00 AM – 5:00 AM and must maintain their own BAC at zero.
  • Probationary licence (G2): Available after having held a G1 licence for 12 months, or eight months if the driver has completed and passed a ministry-approved driver education course. Probationary licence is acquired after successfully completing a road test. At this point the driver must still maintain a BAC of zero. As of September 2005 teenage drivers with a G2 licence are restricted in the number of passengers under 19 that they can carry during night-time driving .[17]
  • Full licence (G): After 1 year of possessing the G2 licence a driver can take an additional road test that often includes driving on a four lane divided highway. With successful completion they will obtain a full licence which carries no restrictions and are not required to take any further tests until the age of 80, provided they renew their licence regularly. Drivers 80 and over must complete a vision and knowledge test and participate in a 90-minute group education session to renew their licence, and the maximum number of years that a licence can be issued for is two years.

Ontario has used a graduated licensing system since 1994. A driver can take as little as 20 months to get a full licence, however a driver must have a full (G) licence within five years of obtaining a learners permit (G1).

A similar process, with different restrictions, is used for obtaining a motorcycle (M) licence.

In 2006, Ontario passed legislation that would allow a court to suspend the license of high school dropout until they turn 18. As of August 2009, however, the legislation has not received royal assent.[18]

Traffic violation convictions usually come with demerit points against your licence. Although contrary to popular belief, the points have no direct impact on insurance rates. The demerit points are used by the Ministry of Transportation to determine licence suspensions due to repeated traffic violations (Affects on Ontario insurance rates and eligibility are typically measured by the number of tickets received in recent years, rather than the associated points).

Drivers from out of province must obtain an Ontario driver's licence if staying more than 90 days. New residents must apply after 60 days of living in Ontario.

Starting June 2009, Ontario began issuing Enhanced Drivers Licences (EDLs) as an option to residents upon request. These licence while almost visually identical to regular drivers licences contained 2 distinct differences. The first being a machine readable code printed on the back of the card (visually similar to the same coding on a Canadian Passport). The second: an embedded RFID microchip. These changes were made in response to the heightened security precautions at US land border crossings. The changes allow for quicker procedures at a border crossing as well as a cheaper alternative to a Canadian Passport (40$ vs. 100$).

Quebec[19]

  • Learners permit: Available at age 16 (with adult consent), with the passing of a multiple choice road theory test, a driving permit is issued which allows the learning driver to drive on roads accompanied by someone with full valid driver's licence. While driving, the learner must maintain a 0 Blood Alcohol Content level and is limited to 4 demerit points, which when reached, uncur a 3 month suspension and extension of the learning period by the same amount of time.
  • Probationary licence: Available after having held a learners permit for 12 months or eight months if the driver has completed a certain number of driving lessons with recognized driving school. Probationary licence is acquired after successfully completing a road test. The restrictions are that the driver must maintain a 0 Blood Alcohol Content level and is limited to 4 demerit points, which is reached, incur a 3 month suspension and extension of the probationary period.
  • Driver's licence: Finished a two year probationary period, if aged 16–24; or if the driver has passed the probationary licence driving test, if age 25 or older.

Saskatchewan[20]

Classes

  • Class 1 - power units and semi-trailers, and trucks (except two-axle trucks with farm-class plates) that have a trailer(s) or vehicle(s) in tow where the gross weight of the towed unit(s) exceeds 4,600 kg. Motor vehicles in classes 2, 3, 4 and 5.
  • Class 2 - buses having a seating capacity in excess of 24 passengers while carrying a passenger or passengers. Motor vehicles in classes 3, 4 and 5. Class 1 vehicles as a learner with an appropriate endorsement.
  • Class 3 - trucks with more than two axles (except those with farm-class plates) and trucks with more than two axles that have a trailer(s) or vehicle(s) in tow, where the gross weight of the towed units does not exceed 4,600 kg. Motor vehicles in classes 4 and 5. Class 1 or 2 vehicles as a learner with an appropriate endorsement.
  • Class 4 - taxis (must also have a Certificate of Approval and a Certificate of Good Moral Character), ambulances and buses having a seating capacity of 24 or fewer passengers while carrying passengers. Motor vehicles in class 5. Class 1, 2 or 3 vehicles as a learner with appropriate endorsement.
  • Class 5 - cars, vans, two-axle vehicles having a trailer(s) or vehicle(s) in tow where the gross weight of the towed vehicle(s) does not exceed 4,600 kg, buses when not transporting passengers, three-axle motorhomes, taxis and ambulances when not used for hire. Two-axle farm trucks towing any vehicle. Trucks with more than two axles registered in the farm class. Trucks with more than two axles registered in the farm class when towing vehicle(s) where the weight of the towed vehicle(s) does not exceed 4,600 kg. Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 vehicles as a learner with appropriate endorsement (minimum age 18 and not a novice driver). Vehicles registered in Class PB or PC when used exclusively to transport, for hire, not more than 24 passengers with a disability and any attendants to those passengers.
  • Class 6 - Learners for Motorcycles.
  • Class 7 - Class 5 vehicles as a learner. Class 6 vehicles under certain circumstances with appropriate endorsement (minimum age 16).


Endorsements

  • Air Brakes “A”
  • Detailed Endorsement "G" (heavy trailer, northern above 55th parallel, and well service rigs)
  • Motorcycle “M” (full licence, 16 years of age)
  • School Bus “S” (full licence, if you are applying for a school bus endorsement card, you must be at least 18 years of age and cannot be a novice driver)
  • Learners “1”, “2”, “3”, “4”, “6”, "7"
  • Snowmobile and ATV (All Terain Vehicle - must be at least 16 years old, or if less than 16 years old, must be supervised)

Class 5 - Novice 1 (6 months)

  • 16 years of age
  • Pass Class 5 road test
  • Excludes interruptions (non-renewal, refusal, licence suspension)

Class 5 - Novice 2 (12 months)

  • Completed Novice 1
  • Excludes interruptions (non-renewal, refusal, licence suspension)
  • Free of at-fault collision, traffic conviction and licence suspension

Class 6 - Motorcycle Learner

  • Must have a Class 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 licence.
  • Pass the required supplementary knowledge tests.
  • File a medical report if requested.
  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • May not operate a motorcycle from half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise.
  • May not carry passengers.
  • Must operate within a 100 km radius of the address shown on their registration.

Class 7 - Learner (9 months)

  • 16 years of age (15 years of age high school program)
  • Pass written test
  • Excludes interruptions (non-renewal, refusal, licence suspension)
  • Mandatory education – high school training (30 hours in-class, six hours in-car) or commercial training (six hours in-class, six hours in-car)

Enhanced driver's licences

Along with several U.S. states, several provinces have rolled out their own EDLs for Canadian citizens that includes proof of citizenship to comply with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative for entering the United States. This includes Manitoba[21], Quebec[22], British Columbia [23] and Ontario.[24]

External links

References


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