When you arrive in Calgary, Edmonton or another area of Alberta, one of the first formalities you may need to take care of (if you plan to take to the roads in Canada!) is obtaining your Alberta drivers license. In most cases, newcomers to Alberta are permitted to drive for only three months, and it’s best to get your Alberta drivers license within the first couple weeks of your arrival.
Alberta Drivers License Eligibility
You are permitted to apply for your Alberta drivers license if you are Canadian citizen, a Canadian permanent resident, holder of a valid work visa, or have refugee status. Other temporary residents, students, and visitors do not qualify for obtaining an Alberta drivers license, and can use their license from their home country or other Canadian province or territory.
To exchange your foreign license for most classes of noncommercial Alberta Drivers License, you will need to provide a photo ID ( passport, a license or non-drivers ID ordered by an official government, a social insurance number card etc), proof of residence in Canada (a Canadian birth certificate, Canadian passport or permanent residence card, work permit, study permit, etc) and proof that you are an Alberta resident (utility bills or statements, etc.).
Some countries have a reciprocal licence exchange agreement with Canada, which makes the process of exchanging a Class 5 (cars and light truck, motorhomes and mopeds), and Class 6 (motorcycle), much easier. Countries that have an exchange agreement include:
- Australia (Class 5 & 6)
- Austria (Class 5)
- Belgium (Class 5)
- France (Class 5)
- Germany (Class 5)
- Isle of Man (Class 5 & 6)
- Japan (Class 5)
- Northern Ireland (Class 5 & 6)
- Republic of Korea (Class 5)
- Switzerland (Class 5 & 6)
- Taiwan(Class 5)
- United Kingdom (Class 5)
- United States (Class 5, 6 & 7)
If you are from one of these countries, you can simply hand in your license that’s an equivalent or higher class from your home country and prove you have more than two years of driving experience (this excludes drivers from from the U.S.). Please note that a learner’s licence from another country cannot be exchanged for an Alberta learner’s licence.To make the exchange, present yourself at Alberta Registry Agent.
If you’re from a country that doesn’t have a reciprocal agreement, there are just a few more steps to obtaining your Alberta drivers license. If you can prove you have more than two years of driving experience, and you have a license from another country to turn in, you may be exempt from going through a graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) program. You will, however, need to pass an advanced road test. To apply, you can submit original identification documents that show your legal name, date of birth and signature. Bring your original, valid foreign driver’s licence, and any original documents that show proof of your driving experience. Any documents that are not in English must be translated by an Approved Document Translator. If you hold an official International Drivers Permit from your original country, it will also need to be handed over. You will also need to complete a GDL exemption form.
Graduated drivers licensing
If you don’t have a driving license, or you have litter driving experience, but would like to obtain one in Alberta, you will be required to complete the Graduated Divers Licensing (GDL) process.
This begins with a stage one Learner’s Licence (Class 7). To get one, you must be least 14 years of age and pass a vision test and knowledge test, which assesses your understanding of the rules of the road. For those age from 14 to 17 years, parental consent is necessary. Once you have this license, you will need to drive with it for at least one year. When you drive, a fully licensed driver more than 18 years of age must be in the car with you, and you’re not allowed to drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. You can’t drive with more passengers than the car has seat belts and you must maintain a zero blood-to-alcohol content level.
Next, you can receive a stage two Probationary Driver’s Licence (Class 5-GDL). You must be at least 16 years of age, have held a Class 7 licence for at least a year, and you’ll need to take and pass the Alberta Class 5 road test. Once you receive this licence, rules and conditions apply. They include spending at least two years as a probationary driver, driving with no more passengers than there are seat belts in the vehicle, and maintain a zero blood-to-alcohol content level. You are also restricted from serving as an accompanying driver for another learner, and the licence will be suspended at eight demerit points, rather than 15 (like fully licensed drivers).
Finally, when you are ready to become a fully licensed driver, you will need to take and pass an advanced road test.
For more information on fees, licensing types, and licensing locations, visit Service Alberta’s Driving and Vehicles webpage, or look out for more informative blog posts from Settle-in.com!
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Read more about driving and transportation in Canada:
- Obtaining an Ontario Driver’s License
- Preparing a Car for Winter in Quebec
- Domestic Travel in Canada
Photo: Faramarz Hashemi