An Ontario G1 licence is the first stage in Ontario’s graduated licensing program; it is followed by the G2 licence, and finally, the full G licence. The process takes about 20 months to complete from start to finish, although you have five years to complete it before you must start over.
The requirements for getting an Ontario G1 licence
To apply for a G1 licence, you must be at least 16 years old and pass an eye and written test about the rules of the road and traffic signs. Both the eye and written tests are administered at the province’s DriveTest Centre when you submit your application.
To ensure you ace the knowledge test to get your G1 the first time you try, you’ll want to study the Official Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Driver’s Handbook.
Where to get the Official MTO Driver’s Handbook
There are a handful of places where you can get a copy of the Ontario Driver’s Handbook. You can:
How to get your Ontario G1 licence
When you feel ready to take the G1 written test, you’ll need to plan a visit to your local or closest DriveTest Centre. There is no appointment necessary, and there are nearly 100 scattered throughout the province.
When you go, you will:
- Need to bring identification. Identification is required to show proof of your legal name, date of birth, and signature. There are various documents that are accepted. Depending on what type of identification you have, you may need to bring a combination of two or more pieces of documentation.
- Pass a vision test. This quick test is administered when you apply. If you already wear corrective lenses, bring these with you as well. If you do not pass the vision test, you will not be able to take your written knowledge test until you go to your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will have to complete a form; this form will be given to you at the DriveTest Centre after your unsuccessful test.
- Pay the fees for the G1 package. The G1 package includes the fees for writing your knowledge test and taking the G2 road test that moves you into the next phase of the graduated licensing system. Currently, the fee for the G1 package is $160 plus taxes.
- Pass a knowledge test. The knowledge test takes about 30 minutes to complete. If you do not pass the test on your first attempt, you can try again. However, you’ll have to pay another fee for each subsequent attempt. Currently, the fee for second, third, or more attempts is $16 each.
Getting your temporary G1 licence
Once you’ve passed your knowledge test, you’ll be given a temporary G1 licence. This paper licence will be valid for 90 days until the province can mail a plastic driver’s licence to you that includes your photo and signature.
G1 licence conditions and restrictions
Once you have your G1 licence, whether it’s the temporary one or the plastic version, it’s important to understand the G1 licensing requirements and restrictions you must follow. A G1 licence is highly restrictive, and if you do not follow the rules, you could be faced with a licence suspension and any associated fine. That is in addition to the auto insurance ramifications that will catch up to you once you receive your G2 and full G licence.
Companies that provide auto insurance in Ontario will factor in your G1 driving record, including traffic tickets, accidents, or suspensions, when calculating your rates for any future auto insurance policy.
In addition to obeying the rules of the road like all other drivers, G1 drivers must:
- Only drive when they have a "zero" blood alcohol level – without exception.
- Only drive when there is a G licensed driver with a minimum of four years’ experience sitting in the passenger seat. This person must have a blood alcohol level below 0.05% unless they are 21 years old or younger, then they must have a zero-blood alcohol level.
- Ensure all passengers wear a seatbelt and that the number of passengers does not exceed the amount of seatbelts available.
- Not drive on any 400-series highways or high-speed expressways (like the QEW and the Gardiner Expressway) unless the driver accompanying you is a licensed Ontario driving instructor.
- Not drive between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m.
The G1 licence conditions and restrictions ensure you can learn to drive and gain driving experience in a safe environment. If you are convicted of breaking the graduated licensing rules, the consequences are serious: on your first conviction, your licence will be suspended for 30 days; on your second, it will be suspended for 90 days; and, on your third conviction, you will lose your novice licence altogether. If you lose your licence, you’ll have to start over, retake all the tests, and pay another round of fees.
Graduating from your G1 licence to getting your G2 licence
Before you can get your G2 licence, you must pass a road test to gauge your basic driving skills. Usually, this test can be taken after you’ve had your G1 for 12 months. Taking your G1 exit test can be fast-tracked if you’ve taken an approved driver’s training course. With a driver’s training course under your belt, you can take your G2 road test after eight months.
G1 licence and Ontario auto insurance: FAQs
As a G1 licensed driver, vehicles and auto insurance are likely new to you, and though exciting, may leave you with some questions. Here are the top questions asked by G1 drivers about G1 licences and auto insurance:
Can a G1 driver buy a car?
There’s nothing stopping a G1 licensed driver from buying a car, but you likely won’t be able to insure it under your name for driving until you have your G2 licence. A policy is always set up in the name of the registered owner. However, the primary driver of the vehicle must be someone who has a valid G2 or G licence. Make sure you contact your potential insurance broker or company before buying a car to avoid disappointment.
Do you need car insurance when you have a G1 licence?
All vehicles on the road must have car insurance. Instead of buying their own vehicle, most G1 drivers practice driving on someone else’s car — whether a parent, guardian, or spouse, and are covered under their policy.
Does my parent/guardian/spouse need to tell their insurance company when I get my G1 licence?
Yes. If someone in your household has an auto insurance policy — like a parent, guardian or spouse — they should notify their insurance company that you have obtained your G1 licence. Generally, there is no charge for adding a G1 driver to any auto insurance policy.
More importantly, the insurance company must be notified when a G1 licensed driver obtains their G2 licence. A G2 licensed driver can operate motor vehicles independently, and therefore, must be listed on the auto insurance policy, even if it’s just as an occasional driver.
Can a G1 driver get demerit points?
Absolutely. Demerit points are added to your driver’s licence if you are convicted of breaking certain driving laws. If you acquire two to five demerit points on your driving record, you’ll receive a warning letter. If you accumulate six to eight demerit points, you run the risk of your licence being suspended. You’ll have to attend a meeting to explain why your licence shouldn’t be suspended. And at nine demerit points, your licence will be suspended for 60 days.