Settling In: Driving

Licensing a Vehicle in Ontario

Most vehicles on Ontario roads must be registered, insured and maintained to meet specific basic standards. If you own a vehicle, you are responsible to ensure that it meets the requirements. As a new Ontario resident, you will need to register your vehicle within thirty days of arrival. Should you move or should your contact details change, you will need to notify the Ministry of Transportation within six days.


Ontario Driver’s Licence

In Ontario, there are 12 different driver’s licence classes. Each one qualifies you to drive a different type of vehicle. The majority of drivers seek the G Licence, which is a full licence allowing a driver to operate any car, van or small truck.

The steps for a new driver to obtain a G-class licence are as follows:

    1. Must pass a theory test to obtain a G1 class licence similar to a learner's permit. New drivers can book a G1 test at the age of 16. See the Driver's Handbook.
    2. Obtain a G2 class licence by successful completion of a road test in residential areas and major thoroughfares (G1 exit test).
    3. Full G licence is obtained by a second road test including highway (freeway) driving.

More information on licence progression can be found on the Ontario website.

Driving In Ontario With a Non-Canadian Licence

If you are from another country and visiting Ontario for more than three months, you may need an International Driver's Permit from your own country or an Ontario driver's licence, depending on your length of stay.

Obtaining an International Driver’s Licence with your photo, before you leave your home country, will enable you to drive in Canada for one year – but you must also carry your valid home license with you.

If you are a new resident of Ontario and have a valid driver’s licence from another province or country, you can use that licence for a maximum of 60 days after admission to Canada. New Ontario residents have 30 days before they must register their vehicles and get an Ontario licence plate and vehicle permit.  We understand there can be significant waiting times (months) to obtain a test date to get your Ontario driving licence, depending on the test centre you select. We suggest you contact the Ministry of Transportation or a driving school (if required) soon after you arrive, to obtain details of the procedure.

For more information on how to exchange an out-of-province driver's licence for an Ontario Driver's Licence please visit the Ontario website.

Licensed drivers with two or more years of driving experience within the last three years from other Canadian provinces, Canadian Forces, Europe, the U.S.A., Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, France, Great Britain, or Austria, may get full class licence privileges without taking a knowledge or road test, by exchanging their licence and meeting other requirements, such as passing a vision test and showing acceptable proof of your previous licence status and driving experience.

Please visit the Drive Test website for information on Driver Examination Centres. Please visit the Ministry of Transportation website for road test bookings or call (416) 325-8580 or 1-888-570-6110.

For more information on Ontario Driving & Roads, please visit the Ontario website.


Regulations & Requirements

Ontario operates a Demerit Point System for driving related offences. A driver begins with zero demerit points and accumulates demerit points for driving-related convictions. The points are recorded on their records. It is a common misconception that drivers `lose’ points. In fact, demerit points stay on your record for two years from the offence date. If you collect enough points, you could lose your driver's licence. Visit The Ontario website for an outline of the demerit point penalties for driving offences.

Note: You are legally required to carry your driver's licence with you whenever you drive. You should also carry your car registration, vehicle permit and a copy of your car insurance certificate.

Use of Seat Belts

Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times when you are driving in Canada. This is the law. The use of a seat belt can save your life in an accident, and drivers can be fined if anyone in the car is not wearing one.

Hands-Free Driving

Ontario adopted hands free cell (mobile) phone laws on October 26, 2009. This law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand–held cell phones or other hand-held communication and entertainment devices while driving, e.g. MP3 players and Global Positioning Systems (GPS/sat navs). Please visit the Ontario website for more information.

Car Seats For Children

Babies and children who are too small to wear seat belts safely must be placed in car seats whenever you drive. These can also help to save lives in case of an accident. There are different types of car seats for different ages and weights. For example, infants from birth to 9 kg (20 lb) must be placed in special seats that face the back of the car. Anyone transporting children under the age of eight, weighing 18-36kg (40 - 80lb) or standing less than 145 cm (4 feet nine inches) tall is mandated to secure them in a booster seat. For further information, please contact the Ministry of Transportation at 1-800-268-4686, or visit the Ministry of Transportation website. You can also get information on child car seat safety and child car seat inspection clinics from your local public health clinic.

Road Traffic Accidents

If you are involved in a road traffic accident call 911 or your local emergency number immediately should you need medical help. Stay where you are, and get someone to call the police if anyone is injured or any public property damaged. You should also report the accident immediately to your car insurance company. It is important to exchange your name, address, and telephone number, as well as your insurance and driver's licence numbers with the other driver. Never leave the scene of an accident, especially if you have hit someone. This is a serious offence known as `hit-and-run.’

Record of Incidents

Any accidents will stay on your record/driver's abstract for six years, and will usually affect the insurance premium you will have to pay. A speeding ticket, for example, remains on your abstract for three years.


Automobile and Home Insurance

Ontario law requires that all motorists have automobile insurance. It is compulsory. You can purchase auto insurance from insurance companies, which in Ontario are private (not regulated). Rates vary, so it pays to shop around. Consider getting quotes from the University’s preferred insurers (Meloche-Monnex and Johnson Inc.). Before you can attach license plates to a vehicle, renew your registration, or buy a temporary (trip) permit, the vehicle must be insured. All vehicles must be insured for third party liability of at least $200,000. This covers you in the event that you injure or kill someone, or damage someone's property. Collision insurance to cover damage to your own vehicle is a good idea, but not required by law. When driving your own or someone else's vehicle, you must carry the pink liability insurance slip for that particular vehicle. You must show this slip when a police officer asks for it. If you do not, you can be fined up to $200.

For more information on Auto Insurance in Ontario, please visit The Ministry of Transportation website.
For more information on Home Insurance, please visit The Insurance Bureau of Canada.

TD Meloche-Monnex offers York University employees a preferred rate for both automobile and home insurance. For more information on TD Insurance products you can visit their website or call 1-877-777-7136.

To assist with determining your automobile insurance rate, TD Meloche-Monnex will need a letter from your former insurance company documenting your past insurance record from the last five to ten years (past claims, past accidents, number of years insured) and a Motor Vehicle Abstract from your home country’s licensing bureau. In fact, this information is useful to anyone looking for car insurance, as a good record could gain you better rates.

Note: Generally speaking, you will typically receive better insurance discounts if you use the same company to insure both your home and vehicle(s).