This article has been updated from a previous version.
Getting your licence is an exciting feat. It can mean going from dependent to independent in a short time.
Ontario actually has 15 types of licences, but when it comes to driving private passenger vehicles (think cars, vans, and small trucks), there are only three that you need to concern yourself with: G1, G2, and G.
If you’re driving a motorcycle, then you need an M licence (that’s a story for a different day).
Below is everything you need to know about getting your full Ontario licence, from G1 all the way through to G.
How do you get your G1 licence? By passing an eye test, a written knowledge test, and being at least 16 years old. The written test is made up of multiple-choice questions covering basic road rules and traffic signs, and can be taken at any Ontario DriveTest centre. Before your written test, you’re going to want to study Ontario’s Official Driver's Handbook, which you can purchase in advance for $14.95 plus taxes, either online through ServiceOntario, at a DriveTest centre, or from various retail stores.
What to bring to the G1 test: On test day, bring a piece of ID with you, and if you need glasses or contacts to drive, bring them, too.
How much does it cost to get your G1 licence? You can pay for the written test, the basic road test needed to earn your G2 (the next step in getting your full licence), and a five-year licence as a package for $159.75. If you fail your written test and need to reattempt it, it will cost another $16.00.
What can you do with your G1 licence? Drive with someone who has had a valid G licence for at least four years in the front seat. Usually, that’s a parent or other guardian.
G1 licence restrictions: Your blood alcohol content (BAC) must be zero, along with your cannabis (and other drug) levels. The fully licensed driver that accompanies you must have a BAC of less than .05 (if they’re 21 and under, their BAC must be zero), and remain in the front passenger seat at all times. And, unless you’re with a driving instructor, you can’t drive on any of the 400-series highways, such as the 401, that have a speed limit of over 80 kilometres an hour. This includes the Don Valley Parkway, Queen Elizabeth Way, the Gardiner Expressway, and the Conestoga Parkway. And last but not least, you can’t drive between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m.
How does insurance factor in with your G1 licence? When you have your G1 licence, you’ll need to be listed under your parents’ auto insurance policy as a secondary driver of their vehicle(s).
How do you get your G2 licence? By passing a basic road test. The test typically lasts around 20 minutes, and involves successfully completing maneuvers like parallel parking, three-point turns and lane changes, under the supervision of an examiner.
How long do you have to wait to get your G2 licence? Typically, it takes 12 months, but if you take a government-approved driver education course — often referred to as “Driver’s Ed” — and pass, you can get your G2 licence in as little as eight months.
What to bring to your G2 test: Make sure your vehicle is in good condition before the test, arrive 30 minutes early, and bring your glasses or contacts if you need them to drive.
How much does it cost to get your G2 licence? The test itself costs $53.75 (if you didn’t already purchase it as part of the G1 package) and can be booked online.
What can you do with your G2 licence? Drive on any road or highway in Ontario, either alone or with passengers, day or night in most cases.
G2 licence restrictions: Your BAC must be zero, along with your cannabis levels when driving with a G2 licence. And if you’re 19 or under, within the first six months of getting your G2, you can’t drive with more than one passenger who’s also 19 or under if it’s just you two in the vehicle between midnight and 5 a.m. (unless they’re immediate family members). After the six-month mark, you can carry up to three passengers who are 19 and under in your car.
How does insurance factor in with your G2 licence? At this stage of the game, unless you have your own vehicle, you’ll still probably be listed under your parents’ auto insurance policy as a secondary driver.
How do you get your G licence? By passing another road test.
How long do you have to wait to get your G licence? Typically, you get your G about a year after you get your G1. You can’t wait any longer than five years to go for your G, otherwise, you’ll have to start the licensing process all over again. The G road test is similar to the G2 test, except you’ll be asked to demonstrate highway driving. The test typically takes around 30 minutes to complete. However, due to the backlog of road tests caused by COVID-19 restrictions, the G test now excludes parallel parking, roadside stops, three-point turns, and driving in residential neighbourhoods until further notice.
What to bring to your G road test: Make sure your vehicle is in good condition before the test, arrive 30 minutes early, and bring your glasses or contacts if you need them to drive.
How much does it cost to get your G licence? $91.25 to get and $90.00 every five years to renew. (The good news is that your insurance will typically get cheaper when you go from a G2 licence to a G, since you’re a more experienced driver and, therefore, seen as less of a risk to insurance companies.)
What can you do with your G licence? Drive on any roads and highways, in any private passenger vehicle, at any time of the day. Once you have your full G licence, it’s valid until you turn 80 years old.
G licence restrictions: If you have your G licence and you’re 21 and under, you can’t have any alcohol or cannabis in your system. If you’re older than 21, however, you can have a BAC of up to 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or 0.08. As for cannabis, the federal fines start when you have two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood in your system. It’s difficult to know how long after consuming cannabis you’re “safe” to drive, so it’s best to forgo driving until you’re completely sober so you don’t risk a fine or criminal charge.
How does insurance factor in with your G licence? If you still don’t have your own vehicle when you get your G licence, you’ll need to be listed under your parents’ auto insurance policy as a secondary driver.
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About the author
Lisa is a senior editor in the personal finance space. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, Toronto Life, Canadian Living and TVO. As a child, she diligently hoarded the $50 bills that fell out of her Christmas cards. Adult Lisa is working hard to resurrect those stockpiling tendencies.