Is your next adventure taking you across provincial lines? If so, exchanging your driver’s license is an important thing to do. And not just for the sake of having a resident’s ID – it is a legal requirement.
Fortunately, it is also a relatively simple thing to do as all provinces and territories recognize licenses issued elsewhere in Canada. This means that a valid license from one jurisdiction can be exchanged for a license of the same class in another.
The requirements of each province are available on-line. Check them carefully as the details vary. (Note: For the territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, it is advisable to telephone their respective driving authorities to discuss the process and requirements to exchange a Canadian driver’s license).
The main steps are:
Check the grace period
How quickly you need to exchange your license varies by province. For example, New Brunswick requires it upon change of residency, while Quebec allows six months and in Saskatchewan it is whichever comes first: 90 days of residency or the expiration of your out of province license. Don’t forget to factor in the amount of time it will take you to prepare your documents, as you will see below.
Get your papers together
All provinces require you to first, establish your identity and secondly, provide proof residency. The documentation required to meet these burdens of proof vary widely. In general, a valid Canadian passport plus a rental contract, letter of employment or bank statement should suffice. However, certain provinces require multiple documents so check the requirements of your new province carefully.
Don’t forget to bring your current license! Be advised that you may have to surrender it in order to receive your new one. Also, if your license is not in English, several provinces require an official translation by a certified translator.
You may also be required to show proof of your driving history. Manitoba and Saskatchewan, for example, require a driver’s abstract, also known as a “Letter of Experience” in certain jurisdictions. The issuing authority of your current license prepares these records and as always, the turnaround time varies.
Locate your new driver licensing office
Several jurisdictions require appointments; so contact the license issuer early so you don’t violate the grace period. You will need to apply for the license exchange in person, with all of your documentation. The fees and acceptable methods of payment are set by each province.
Special classes of license and other vehicles
Some classes of licenses may require written, practical or medical exams before they are exchanged. The process for commercial licenses may be different from general licenses.
If you are bringing your vehicle with you, don’t forget to change your registration and insurance at the same time.
Shiny new license in hand? One more thing: Check out the Driver’s Handbook or Highway Safety Code for your new jurisdiction to avoid any unpleasant surprise violations!
Buckle up and safe driving while you check out your new neighbourhood!