Ontario G1 licence requirements and restrictions

A mother teaching her daughter how to drive.

This article has been updated from a previous version.

The Ontario G1 licence marks the first stage of Ontario’s graduated licensing program; it is followed by the G2 licence, and finally, the full G licence. The process takes at least 20 months to complete from start to finish. And fear not, for you’ve got a cool five years to finish through all three steps before you consider a fresh start – plenty of time to perfect and hone your driving skills!

The requirements for getting an Ontario G1 licence

To apply for a G1 licence, you must be at least 16 years old. Additionally, you have to pass a vision test and written exam that will test you on the rules of the road and traffic signs. Both the vision and written tests are administered at an Ontario DriveTest Centre when you're ready to submit your application.

To avoid not passing and having to retake the G1 test, you’ll also want to study the most recent edition of 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 prepped and pumped to take the G1 written test, you’ll need to plan a visit to your closest DriveTest Centre or a Travel Point (a temporary DriveTest Centre where this is no regional centre). You can find your closest location using the alphabetical list provided by the Government of Ontario. No need to book an appointment in advance, as tests are offered on a first come - first serve basis. However, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to avoid long queues!

When you go, you will have 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 the vision test. This quick test is administered at the DriveTest Centre when you apply. If you wear corrective lenses, make sure to bring these with you. 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 centre after your unsuccessful test.
  • Pay the fees for the G1 package. The G1 package includes both the fees for your knowledge test and the future G2 road test that will move you into the next phase of the graduated licensing system. Currently, the fee for the G1 package is $159.75 plus taxes.
  • Pass the knowledge test. The knowledge test takes about 30 minutes to complete and comprises 40 questions — 20 on rules of the road, and 20 on road signs. You’ll need to correctly answer at least 16 questions in both sections. If you do not pass the test on your first attempt, you can try again. However, you will 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 or until the province can mail your official driver’s licence card with your photo and signature.

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G1 licence conditions and restrictions

Once you have your G1 licence, whether it’s the temporary paper version or the plastic card, it’s key to understand the G1 licensing requirements – they’ll be your roadmap to responsible driving.  A G1 licence doesn’t grant you the full freedom of a full G licence — you’ll need to follow a number of rules and restrictions, and breaking them can lead to a licence suspension and fines.

Any infractions will also tag along with you even as you move up to your G2 and full G licence, which can leave lasting impacts on your future auto insurance rates.

Auto insurance providers in Ontario factor in your G1 driving record, including traffic tickets, accidents, or suspensions, when calculating your rates for any auto insurance policy. .

In addition to obeying the rules of the road like all other drivers, G1 drivers must:

  • Only drive with a "zero" blood alcohol level. No exceptions!
  • Only drive when there is a G licensed driver with at least 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, in which case they must have a zero-blood alcohol level.
  • Ensure all passengers have their own seatbelts and use them.
  • Avoid all 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’re convicted of breaking the graduated licensing rules, the consequences are serious. A first conviction can lead to having your license suspended for 30 days. If you’re caught breaking the rules again, you can say goodbye to your licence for 90 days; and, on your third conviction, you’ll lose your novice licence altogether. At that point, you’ll have to start all over, retake all the tests, and pay another round of fees.

Read more: G1 licence rules: everything you need to know

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 at least 12 months. Taking your G1 exit test can be fast-tracked if you’ve taken a government-approved driver’s training course. If you opt to take a driver’s training course, you can take your road test after just eight months of passing your G1.

Related: 5 tips for getting the most out of driver’s training

G1 licence and Ontario auto insurance: FAQs

As a G1 licensed driver, the world of car-shopping and auto insurance are likely to be new to you, which, although exciting, may leave you with some questions. Here are some common questions asked by other 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, however you won’t be able to insure it under your name for driving purposes until you have your G2 licence. An insurance 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 — this works to your advantage, too, as insurance rates tend to be much higher for new drivers.

Make sure you contact your potential insurance broker or company before buying a car to avoid any disappointment.

Do you need car insurance when you have a G1 licence?

All vehicles on the road must have car insurance. Instead of buying your own vehicle, as a G1 driver, it’s better to practice driving with someone else’s car — whether a parent, guardian, or spouse — and be 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 about your new G1 licence. Generally, there’s no charge for adding a G1 driver to any auto insurance policy.

More importantly, the insurance company must be notified when your G1 license turns into a G2 licence. A G2 licensed driver can operate motor vehicles independently, and therefore, must be listed on the auto insurance policy, even if they’re just an occasional driver.

Can a G1 driver get demerit points?

Absolutely. if you’re 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 a second letter advising you to improve your driving skills. And at nine demerit points, your licence will be suspended for 60 days. Failure to comply will risk you getting a two-year suspension.