Exchanging a Foreign Driving Licence

Understand the process for exchanging a driving licence issued in another country, when you live in Canada...

A valid International Driving Permit (IDP) issued in other countries can be used in Canada for a short period. The time period varies so check with the relevant provincial or territorial government for details. Driving licences can be exchanged at provincial/territorial Driver Licencing Offices. In all cases, the applicant will need to prove that they fulfill residency requirements by presenting proof of permanent residence and/or a work visa. Licences issued in another province or territory in Canada may also be exchanged for the relevant provincial licence. All provincial/territorial jurisdictions have different regulations, so refer to the relevant jurisdiction for details. To exchange a driving licence, it is generally necessary to:
  • Complete an eye test
  • Provide a valid driving licence (if this is not in English or French, it may need to be translated)
  • Show proof of identity
  • Provide proof of address (for example a utility bill)
  • Pay a fee
  • It may also be necessary to complete a knowledge test if the person has been driving for less than two years

British Columbia

In British Columbia, new residents must exchange their driving licence within 90 days of moving to the province. Those from Austria, Australia, France, Germany, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States with a valid driving licence can normally exchange their licence straight away. To exchange or obtain a full BC driver's licence, applicants must provide two pieces of identification, current driving licence and pay the relevant fee. If they have been driving for less than two years, the applicant may still qualify for a BC licence, but must complete the Graduated Licencing Program (GLP). Any documents that are not in English must be translated by an Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) translator. Driving licences are exchanged at a driver licencing office. People with a valid driving licence from countries other than those listed above have to take a driving knowledge test and an eye test. Once they have successfully passed both these tests they can then take the road test. The minimum age to apply for a learner's licence in British Columbia is 16.

Ontario

In Ontario, new residents have 60 days in order to exchange their licence for an Ontario driver's licence. Residents must apply in-person at a Drive Test Centre or the Service Ontario College Park location in downtown Toronto. They must be aged at least 16. If a person has more than two years driving experience and holds a driving licence from another Canadian province or territory, or from a country with a reciprocal agreement (the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Taiwan), they can exchange their driving licence for an Ontario licence.

When you can’t exchange

A person from one of these countries who has held a licence for less than two years, or a person from any other country than those listed above may be able to skip the first stage of the driver's licence programme in Ontario.

Québec

New residents in Québec have up to 12 months to apply for a licence exchange. Non-residents (for example those on a six month visitor visa) may use their licence for six months. To exchange a driving licence in Québec, a person must be aged at least 16 and hold a valid driver's licence. Some new residents may exchange their licence for a Québec one without testing if their country has a reciprocal agreement. To find out if a person qualifies for a Québec licence, they must contact the Société de l'Assurance Automobile (SAAQ) by telephone and make an appointment. Only people with a Confirmation of Permanent Residence document can exchange their licence or be issued with a Québec driving licence. Any documents in a language other than English or French must be translated by an official translator.

Other provinces/territories

For information on exchanging a licence in all other provinces/territories, see the relevant links below: