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Requirements and restrictions for getting your G1 in Ontario

April 15, 2024
5 mins
guide to getting your g1

This article has been updated from a previous version.

The journey tobecoming a fully licensed driver in Ontario starts with a written test. Once you pass that, you get what’s known as a G1 license, the province’s version of a learner’s permit.

However, as a driver with a G1 licence, you’re limited in terms of what you can and can’t do. Here’s what you can expect during this phase:

What is a G1 License?

A G1 license is the initial stage of Ontario’s graduated licensing program. To obtain one you must be at least 16 years old and have passed the written test.

With a G1 license, you can only drive under the supervision of a fully licensed driver who has at least four years of driving experience. You are not allowed to drive on 400-series highways with a speed limit of over 80 km/h. Additionally, high-speed expressways such as the Queen Elizabeth Way and the Gardiner Expressway are off-limits. However, if a driving instructor is in the car with you, you can drive a vehicle on any road.

However, after holding a G1 license for at least 12 months (or 8 months with an approved driver education course), you can take the G1 road test to progress to the next level.

Related: A guide to getting your driver's licence in Alberta

How the G1 licensing program works

To get a G-class licence in Ontario, there are two levels (G1 and G2) you need to complete.

After you’ve received your G1 license, you won’t be eligible to take your G2 driving test for 12 months — however, if you opt to take a government-approved driver training course, that cuts the waiting period down to eight months, (Another benefit of taking a driver’s training course? You’ll be able to save money on auto insurance).

Once you receive your G2 license, you’ll have another 12 months to practice for your full G license.  The process to become fully licensed usually takes between 20 to 24 months.

However, you have up to five years to get a full G-class licence. If you don’t become fully licensed within that time period, you must start the process from scratch.

Related: Auto insurance outlook 2024

Requirements for getting G1 licence

First, you should study the most current edition of the Official Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Driver’s Handbook, which can be purchased at certain authorized retailers such as Canadian Tire and Shopper’s Drug Mart, or accessed for free online. Besides being at least 16 years old, here are a few other requirements that you need to meet:

  • Bring identification — You need to provide identification that includes your date of birth, legal name, and signature. This can be your passport, Canadian citizenship card, or permanent or temporary immigration documents. You may also need to bring in additional documents, such as your birth certificate or Ontario health card.
  • Pay fees The current cost to get your G1 is $159.75. It includes the cost of the written knowledge test, the road test to get a G2, and a five-year licensing fee. There are additional costs for the second road test (to become fully licensed) and any retests, if you don’t pass.
  • Pass the vision test If you have glasses or contact lenses, it’s highly recommended that you wear them to the test or you could fail.
  • Pass the knowledge test — This test is multiple choice and takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. You must get a score of 80% or higher in order to pass. If you don’t pass, you can take the test as many times as you like, but it will cost you $16 for each additional attempt.

Where can you take the test?

Visit any DriveTest location to take the G1 knowledge test. DriveTest centres offer the test on paper, butsome locations also provide a computer-based option.

If you’re in downtown Toronto, you can head to the ServiceOntario Bay and College location. However, appointments are required here. Remember to bring original identification that displays your legal name and date of birth.

What questions will be asked on the G1 test? 

The written exam comprises entirely of multiple-choice questions and is broken up into two different sections. The first focuses on traffic lights and traffic signals, while the second focuses on your knowledge of road rules.

Here aresome sample questions that you might be asked on the test:

  • What does a red signal light with a green arrow mean?
  • When may you lend your driver's licence to another person?
  • A school bus with flashing red signal lights is stopped ahead of you. What does the law require you to do when meeting or overtaking the bus?
  • After a nine-demerit-point interview of a fully licensed driver, the Ministry of Transportation may suspend the driver's licence for which of the following reasons?
  • When descending a long, steep hill, how should you control your speed?

Restrictions on a G1 licence

When compared to a full licence, a G1 comes with certain restrictions.

Under the law, you:

  • Cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • Cannot drive on 400-series highways or expressways (such as the Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway, Conestoga Parkway, or Queen Elizabeth Way).
  • Must ensure all passengers in your vehicle are wearing a seatbelt at all times.
  • Must have a zero-blood alcohol level.
  • Must drive with a fully licensed driver who has four or more years of driving experience and maintains a blood alcohol level of less than 0.05% (or a blood alcohol level of zero if the driver is under the age of 21).

The accompanying driver must be in the front passenger seat. If you’re driving with an instructor certified in Ontario, you’re allowed to drive on highways and expressways.

Read next: These are the top five factors that influence your auto insurance rate

Do I need car insurance if I have my G1?

If you only have your G1, you can’t be listed on an insurance policy as the primary driver — even if you go out and purchase your own car. Until you have a G2, you won’t be able to get your own vehicle insured under your name.

Instead, while you’re using your parents’ car or someone else’s to learn, have them list you as a secondary or occasional driver.

Getting yourself listed as a secondary driver will also help build your driving record. So, by the time you are a fully licenced driver and you’re ready to purchase insurance, you will have some driving experience to demonstrate to the insurance company. While auto insurance premiums will still be higher for new drivers, this is one way to get started on reducing car insurance premiums. There usually aren’t any additional costs to add a G1 driver to a car insurance policy.

Graduating to G2 and becoming fully licensed

As mentioned, it takes up to 12 months to get your G2 licence. If you attend a ministry-approved driving school, you can reduce the amount of time you spend at the G1 level. It may also lead to lower car insurance rates.

Once you get your G2, you’ll be granted more freedom — you won’t need to drive with another fully licensed driver in the car, for example, and you’ll be able to drive on all Ontario roads, including highways and expressways.

Getting a full license to drive in Ontario takes a long time. In some cases, up to five years, or even longer, depending on whether you’re able to pass the test. However, all that preparation and training will help you become a safer driver. And, if you take a driver’s training course and get experience as a secondary driver, you’ll also be able to spend less money on your auto insurance when you finally do get a car.

Read more: 20 Ways to Get Cheaper Auto Insurance

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Craig Sebastiano

Craig Sebastiano is an award-winning writer and editor with more than a decade of experience in journalism, marketing, and communications. He’s written about a number of financial topics, including investing, real estate, robo-advisors, mortgages, credit cards, pensions, taxes, insurance, RRSPs, and TFSAs. Craig’s work has appeared in MoneySense, Morningstar, Benefits Canada, Advisor’s Edge, Job Postings, and Ryerson University Magazine. He has completed the Canadian Securities Course and is an avid do-it-yourself investor.

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