Ontario G1 licence requirements and driving rules

By Arshi Hossain

An Ontario G1 licence is the first of three stages in Ontario’s graduated licensing program; it’s followed by the G2 licence, and finally, the full G licence. The process takes a few years (usually between 20 to 24 months) to complete from start to finish.

How the graduated licencing system works in Ontario

The graduated licensing program in Ontario begins with the G1 license, where you’re considered a learner driver. You must hold the G1 license for 12 months, but if you take a government-approved driver training course, the waiting period is reduced to 8 months.  

The G2 license comes next, allowing independent driving with some restrictions. During the 12-month G2 stage, you gain experience and build confidence. Finally, after holding the G2 license for another 12 months, you can apply for the full G license, granting unrestricted driving privileges.  

Remember, you have up to five years from your G1 license date to complete the process. If the deadline is missed, you’ll need to start over.  

Related: G1 drivers and graduated licencing in other provinces

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 that questions your knowledge about the rules of the road and traffic signs. Both tests are administered at the province’s DriveTest Centre at the time of your application.

What do you need for the G1 test?

To apply and take the required knowledge tests, you’ll need to bring the following with you:

The fees for the G1 package. The G1 package includes the fees for both your knowledge test and G2 road test that moves you into the next phase of the graduated licensing system. Currently, the fee for the G1 package is $159.75 plus taxes.

Glasses if you need them. You will be given a vision test before your written exam. If you don't pass the eye exam, you won't be able to proceed with the rest of your G1 test. 

Original 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.

Required pieces of ID

If you're unsure of which pieces of ID will bring, carefully refer to the list below.

Canadian citizens:

  • Passport (Canadian or foreign).
  • Canadian Citizenship Card with photo.
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status Card (issued on or after December 15, 2009, by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada).
  • Ontario Photo Card.

Permanent residents:

  • Permanent Resident (PR) Card.
  • Record of Landing (IMM 1000).
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) accompanied by a valid passport from the country of origin.
  • Ontario Photo Card.

Temporary Residents:

  • Study Permit / Student Authorization (IMM 1442).
  • Work Permit / Employment Authorization (IMM 1442).
  • Visitor Record (IMM 1442).
  • Temporary Resident Permit (IMM 1442).
  • Refugee Status Claim (IMM 1434).
  • Acknowledgement of Intent to Claim Refugee Status (IMM 7703) with photo.
  • Report Pursuant to the Immigration Act (IMM 1442) with photo.
  • Ontario Photo Card.

Related: Are you a new resident driver in Ontario?

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 closest DriveTest Centre. There are nearly 100 scattered throughout the province. and no requirement to make an appointment.

Here’s the process and requirements for G1 test:

Pass a G1 practice knowledge test. To ace the knowledge test to get your G1 on your first try, make sure you study the Official Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Driver’s Handbook. To find it, you can:

  • Access an online copy of the handbook on the province’s official website.
  • Buy a copy from Publications Ontario to have shipped to you.
  • Buy a copy from your local DriveTest Centre.
  • Buy a copy from an authorized retailer, such as Shopper’s Drug Mart or Canadian Tire.

Pass a knowledge test. The knowledge test takes about 30 minutes to complete. If you don’t pass the test on your first attempt, you can try again. However, you’ll have to pay a $16 fee for each subsequent attempt.  

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 don’t pass the vision test, you won’t be able to take your written knowledge test until you go to your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will have to complete a form which will be given to you at the DriveTest Centre.

Getting your temporary G1 licence

Once you’ve passed your knowledge and vision test, you’ll be given a temporary G1 licence. This paper licence will be valid for 90 days or until the province can mail a plastic driver’s licence to you that includes your photo and signature.

G1 licence driving restrictions and road rules

Once you have your G1 licence, whether it’s the temporary one or the official card, you must follow the following G1 driving rules and restrictions:

Always drive with an experienced driver. You can only drive when there’s 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’re 21 years old or younger (in which case they must have a zero-blood alcohol level). You can't drive with only a G2 licensed passenger sitting beside you.

You must have a 0% blood alcohol level. A G1 driver can’t have any alcohol in their system when behind the wheel, even if that driver is of legal drinking age.  

All passengers must wear a seat belt. The number of passengers in the car can’t exceed the number of seat belts in the car.  

No driving between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Darkness and fatigue are both contributing factors to the higher risk level for all drivers during these hours, and thus an even higher risk level for an inexperienced driver.  

No driving on 400-series highways. The only time a G1 driver can drive on any 400-series highway is if there’s a licensed Ontario driving instructor in the vehicle’s passenger seat. Aside from this one exception, G1 drivers must stay off these highways, where high speeds create a greater risk to an inexperienced driver and those around them.

Consequences of breaking the G1 licencing rules and restrictions

The G1 licence conditions and restrictions ensure you can learn to drive and gain driving experience in a safe environment. If you’re convicted of breaking the licensing rules, the consequences are serious.

If it’s your first conviction, your licence will be suspended for 30 days. The second time, it’ll be suspended for 90 days. On your third conviction, you’ll 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.

That’s in addition to the auto insurance ramifications that will catch up to you once you receive your G2 and full G licence. Auto insurance providers in Ontario calculate your future auto insurance policy rates based on your driving record, including traffic tickets, accidents, or suspensions. New drivers are considered ‘high-risk’ and are already subject to some of the highest car insurance quotes due to the risk they pose. Having a poor driving history will only raise your premiums even more.

Read more: Steering clear of traffic tickets in Ontario

Demerit points and G1 licenses

Although G1 drivers receive demerit points similar to other licence classes, the threshold for licence suspensions is different and typically lower. This means G1 drivers can have their licences suspended more quickly and with fewer demerit point compared to those with a full G licence.  

A G1 driver will face suspension if they receive six demerit points. However, getting fewer than six demerit points can still have an impact. Demerits remain on your license for two years, so when you pass the test and get your G2 license, those points will still count against you. This also means higher insurance quotes – and rates for new drivers are high enough as it is.

Related: Can high-risk drivers still save on car insurance?

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. While this test can be taken 12 months after you pass your G1; however, with a driver’s training course under your belt, you can take your G2 road test after only eight months.  

Once you get your G2, you’ll be granted more freedom — you’ll be able to drive on your own, without having to have a fully licensed driver in the passenger’s seat. Plus, you’ll have the privilege to drive on all Ontario roads, including highways and expressways.  

Read more: Ontario G2 licence requirements and restrictions

Can you get auto insurance with a G1 licence?  

With a G1 licence, you’re covered under a fully licenced driver’s insurance. Typically, you don’t need your own insurance policy as a G1 driver, and most insurance companies won’t consider you eligible for one. This is because, as a G1 driver, you can only drive with a fully licensed driver who has at least four years of driving experience in an insured vehicle. Essentially, you’re already covered under their insurance policy, not your own.

Alternatively, you can be added as a secondary driver to an existing policy. This addition is done under the coverage of another fully licensed driver, often a parent or guardian. The insurance provider must be informed of this new addition, especially if you transition to a G2 driver.  

There’s a benefit for G1 drivers when added as secondary drivers: they can start building their insurance history early. The exact premium can vary significantly, so it’s advisable to compare quotes from multiple insurance providers.

Read more: How your Ontario driver licence type affects auto insurance rates 

Can a G1 driver buy a car?

There’s nothing stopping you 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.  

Graduating from your G2, and moving onto your full G licence

Typically, you’ll practice with your G2 license for twelve months before you’re on track to get your final and full G license. To become fully licensed, you must complete the graduated licensing process:

  1. Finish the G1 and G2 levels.
  2. Pay the fees and pass a highway road test. The fee for the test is $91.25.

At the DriveTest centre, you’ll also need to complete and sign a "Declaration of Highway Driving Experience" form to confirm your expressway driving practice.  

On the form, you’ll have to indicate how many times in the three months before the road test you’ve driven on a freeway and/or a highway with a speed limit of at least 80 km/h. If you don't have enough highway driving experience, the test examiner will cancel the test, and you’ll lose 50% of your prepaid road test fee.

Certain elements are no longer be assessed on your highway road test

Until further notice, the G highway road test has been temporarily modified to help clear the backlog of in-vehicle passenger road tests resulting from COVID-19 restrictions and closures.

The G road test won’t include these elements that are already covered in the G2 road test:

  • parallel parking
  • roadside stops
  • 3-point turn
  • driving in residential neighbourhoods

Remember, you have up to five years to complete the entire process.

Read next: Getting your Ontario G licence 

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