How to Pass Your Driving Test (In Every Province)

January 14, 2020

There are no two ways about it, you absolutely MUST have a driver’s license to operate a vehicle on Canadian roads. From British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador, the expectation remains the same. But—whatever province you’re in—you can prepare to ace your driving test in 2020 with the help of this quick guide...

That applies to drivers who are getting a driver’s license for the first time, those required to retest after losing their license, as well as new Canadian residents. It’s important that all Canadians know the rules of the road and can prove it. That’s precisely why a driving test is required in every province across the nation.

When it comes to your practical driving test, each province or territory has its own requirements to book and obtain your permit. What are the rules in your province, and where do you find a testing centre near you?

Test requirements and testing centres by province

Alberta

In Alberta, you can get your Class 7 License, or learner’s permit, at the age of 14 with a parent or guardian’s consent. You must pass a knowledge test as well as a vision test. 

Once you’re 16 years old and have your Class 7 for a minimum of 12 months, you can obtain a probationary license, or Class 5-GDL (graduated driver’s licence). Again, you must have a parent or guardian’s consent, plus you must pass the basic road test. While under probation, you cannot have any alcohol in your system when you drive, you cannot drive with more people than the vehicle has seat belts, and you must have a non-GDL driver accompanying you. 

After two years with a Class 5-GDL license with no suspensions, you can upgrade to a full Class 5 license. You must pass an advanced road test. 

Alberta Driver Licensing Test Centres

You can book your road test at an Alberta Registry Centre or by booking online. Tests are available in most communities through an Alberta Registry Agent, with full listings viewable when you’re booking your test.

British Columbia

To obtain a full Class 5 license in BC, you must first complete the Learner and Novice stages through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). 

  • After passing a written knowledge test, you’ll receive an L license or learner’s permit. You must hold an L license for at least 12 months before taking the test for Novice. You may not have alcohol or drugs in your blood when you drive, use electronic devices while driving, or drive between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. Furthermore, you must display an L sign on your car and have a supervising driver in the front passenger seat.
  • A Class 7 or N license can be sought after a year with your L license. You’ll have to pass a full road test to assess your driving skills. After passing, you’ll have similar restrictions to an L license except you don’t need a supervising driver. You may carry one passenger alone.
  • You can sit your advanced road test and receive your full Class 5 license after two years with an N license (or possibly 18 months, if you underwent an ICBC-approved driver training course during your L stage).

BC Driver Licensing Test Centres

Like Alberta, you can book your driving test online or at a BC Licensing Centre. To take your road test, book an appointment at the closest centre to you. There are dozens of Licensing Centres across the province.

Manitoba

In Manitoba, there are six classes of driving licenses, and Class 5 is for a regular passenger vehicle. Manitoba operates a Graduated Licensing Program with strict criteria new drivers must legally adhere to. For new licensees, you must be at least 16 years old with your parent’s consent (if under the age of 18). 

Applicants must:

  • Establish identification through Manitoba Public Insurance.
  • Pass vision and medical standards.
  • Complete the written knowledge test with a passing mark.
  • Hold a learner’s permit for at least nine months during the Learner Stage.
  • Pass a road test to prove you can safely operate a motor vehicle.
  • Complete a mandatory 15-month Intermediate Stage that enforces a zero-tolerance alcohol consumption behind the wheel as well as a limit to the number of occupants you can carry in your vehicle.
  • After the Intermediate Stage is successfully completed, a Full Stage license is granted.

Manitoba Driver Licensing Test Centres

Many communities around Manitoba offer road tests for Class 5 drivers including major centres in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Thompson, Winkler, and The Pas. To schedule and pay for your driving test, book an appointment with an Autopac agent. 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador administers a Graduated Driver Licensing Program as well, albeit a little different than BC and Alberta. 

  • After passing a written test and a vision test at or above the age of 16, applicants receive a novice driver Class 5 Level 1 or Learner license.
  • Learner drivers must hold the license for a minimum of 12 months, or 8 months if a Driver Education Program is completed. 
  • Novice drivers cannot have alcohol in their system, nor can their mandatory accompanying driver. They cannot drive between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. or carry passengers aside from their accompanying driver.
  • Novice driver Class 5 Level 2 licenses can be obtained after 12 months upon passing a road test. An accompanying driver is only required between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., and passengers are permitted. You must hold this license for a minimum of 12 months. 
  • A full Class 5 license is granted after passing an advanced road test. 

Newfoundland and Labrador Driver Licensing Test Centres

There are Driver Examination Offices located across the NL and Labrador area. Contact the regional office nearest you at 1-877-636-6867 to schedule a driver’s license road test.

New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, a Class 5 driver’s license must be obtained by participating in the provincial GDL program which can be applied for at age 16. 

  • New applicants must pass a written test and vision test to receive their GDL licence, or Class 7 Level 1. They can only operate between 5 a.m. and midnight, and cannot carry passengers aside from an accompanying fully-licensed adult. 
  • A road test must be passed to upgrade to Class 7 Level 2, and is possible after 12 months with a Level 1 license. An accompanying driver is required only between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., and you can carry up to three passengers. 
  • A road test is required to upgrade to a full Class 5 license. 

New Brunswick Driver Licensing Test Centres

Driver Examination Service Centres are located across the province in most populous communities. To book an appointment for a road test, call 1-888-762-8600.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s GDL program has three phases, Learner’s License, Newly Licensed, and Restricted Individual. 

  • After passing a written test, a Learner’s License is issued. No passengers are allowed aside from a supervising driver, and the learning driver cannot have alcohol in their blood. A minimum practice period of 12 months is enforced.
  • Learners can step up to the Newly Licensed phase by passing a driving test. No alcohol is allowed in their system and they cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. 
  • To pass from Newly Licensed to Restricted Individual, Newly Licensed Drivers must complete a defensive driving course or a driver training course. 
  • Restricted Individual drivers must not drive with alcohol in their blood for two years.

Nova Scotia Driver Licensing Test Centres

Driver Licensing test centres are available across the province by appointment including locations in Antigonish, Halifax, Dartmouth, Inverness, Sydney, and Truro. Call 1-800-898-7668 to book an appointment or find the location nearest you.

Ontario

In Ontario, you can become a fully licensed driver in about 20 months or so, starting once you’re at least 16 years old.

  • Upon passing an eye test and a written test, a beginner driver receives a G1 license where they can practice driving for 12 months. G1 license holders cannot have alcohol in their blood while they drive, cannot drive between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., cannot drive on busy highways and expressways, and must be accompanied by a fully licensed and experienced driver. 
  • After completing a road test, G1 drivers graduate to G2 licensees, also required for 12 months. You can drive without another driver on all roads and at any time, although drivers under 19 years old can only drive with one passenger between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. 
  • A full G license is obtained after passing a full road test for advanced driving skills. 

Ontario Driver Licensing Test Centres

The Government of Ontario operates DriveTest, a program to administer knowledge and road tests for the province. Road test locations exist across Ontario. Visit DriveTest.ca to find a location near you and to book an appointment.

Prince Edward Island

PEI offers a three-year GDL program to get a full Class 5 driver’s license. 

  • The Instruction Driver’s Permit, or Class 7 license, requires a vision test and a written test. It’s valid for two years from when it was issued. 
  • During Stage 1, you must drive with a supervisor in the front seat, not have alcohol in your blood, and cannot use a hand-held device. If you’re under 21, you cannot drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. 
  • After 12 months, you can graduate to a Stage 2 license by passing a road test. While a supervising driver is not required, all other restrictions remain in place. You can only drive with one non-family member as a passenger. 
  • After 12 months, you graduate to Stage 3 where multiple passengers are allowed.

PEI Driver Licensing Test Centres

Road tests for driver licensing in PEI happen at one of eight Access PEI locations: Alberton, Charlottetown, Montague, O’Leary, Souris, Summerside, Tignish, and Wellington. 

Quebec 

A full Class 5 driver’s license for passenger vehicles in Quebec follows a different path:

  • A driving course is mandatory in Quebec for all new drivers with both theory and practical components.
  • At the age of 16, you can obtain a learner’s permit by passing Phase 1 of the driving course and a knowledge test by your driving school.
  • Fifteen hours of driving experience with an instructor as well as 24 hours of theory are required. Learners must not drive between midnight and 5 a.m., and must not have alcohol in their system when driving.
  • After holding a learner’s permit for 10 months, you can write a knowledge test that is mandatory before receiving your probationary license. 
  • A driving test is then required to assess your skills on the road. You must have held a Class 5 learner’s license for at least 12 months. There are restrictions for passengers on a probationary license and you must abide by a zero-alcohol rule. 
  • A full license is granted after 2 years with a good driving record.

Quebec Driver Licensing Test Centres

In Quebec, the SAAQ operates many service centres throughout the province. You can schedule your road test at any location near you by visiting this SAAQ resource.

Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, SGI administers driver licensing and vehicle registration. To get your Class 5 licence, you’ll need to complete six stages of a GDL program. 

  • Pass a knowledge test and a vision test to get your Class 7 Learner’s license. A supervising driver is required to be in the passenger front seat. 
  • A driver education course is mandatory to move from Class 7 to Class 5
  • After at least 9 months with a learner’s license, a Class 5 Novice 1 license can be obtained by passing a road test.
  • Class 5 Novice 1 drivers must practice for at least 6 months with restrictions for the number of passengers, cell phone use, and drugs and alcohol. After 6 months of clean driving, a Novice 2 license is mailed out. 
  • After 12 months of incident-free driving, you graduate to an experienced Class 5 driver. 

Saskatchewan Driver Licensing Test Centres

Currently, there are 61 road test locations offered across Saskatchewan. Locate and contact your nearest SGI Driver Exam Office here.

Tips for passing your road test

It’s stressful and nerve-wracking, but it’s your key to freedom. Your ability to drive on your own hinges on the road test for your driver’s license. And while you can retake the driving test if you don’t pass the first time, it would be great to put that worry behind you. 

For the best success to pass your driving test, we have some tips. Whether you’re new to Canada or new to driving, these pointers can help you get your assessor’s stamp of approval on the first attempt.

  1. Practice diligently 

  2. There’s only one way to become a confident, safe driver, and that’s through practice. Log as many hours as possible behind the wheel to give yourself the greatest chance of success on your driving test. If you don’t feel like you’ve had enough driving time, postpone your driving test until you feel comfortable that you’ll pass.

  3. Perfect your parallel parking

  4. It can be the bane of many a driver – parallel parking. But in reality, it’s a maneuver that can be extremely beneficial to master for everyday driving, not just to pass your driver’s test. Practice parallel parking until it feels like you can accomplish the task with minimal stress. Then, once you have your license, keep using it!

  5. Make sure your vehicle is ready

  6. Before you start the engine with the test instructor riding shotgun, make sure the vehicle you’re driving is in order. Also, you should check that the lights are all operating. Adjust your driver’s seat and adjust the rearview and side mirrors. Always buckle up and ask the instructor to belt in too. 

  7. Stay calm

  8. Being nervous is normal for such a momentous occasion, but don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Instead, use techniques to help you remain calm before your test. Also, you should get familiar with the testing centre and know where you need to go. 

  9. Make decisions confidently

  10. Learn to trust your decision-making behind the wheel, which can only be accomplished through practice. When you’re on your driver’s licensing road test, the instructor wants to see that you make good decisions while you drive. Be confident when you change lanes, for example, by shoulder-checking well once before signalling and making your movement rather than several glances over your shoulder to check and re-check. The instructor wants to see that you know what you’re doing.

  11. Obey all traffic signs

  12. It goes without saying, but watch for and follow all traffic signs. Whether it’s a stop sign or stoplight, a speed limit sign, a yield, or any other instructive sign, obey it. In most (if not all) jurisdictions, failing to obey traffic signals or signs can be an automatic failure. Plus, those signs are to keep you safe on the road.

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