Drivers From Outside Canada & Alberta Licensing

Vince L. | February 18, 2014

In Alberta, depending on a variety of factors, it maybe necessary for you to provide a driving history and be subject to road testing before Alberta Registries can exchange your foreign license for an Alberta Driver's License. This process can be tricky and cumbersome, make sure you leave yourself lots of time in order for this process to happen; also make sure you read and understand the process before you proceed. Make sure you are asking the proper questions to avoid confusion.

If you are travelling to Alberta to visit and want to drive while you are on your visit you may need to have an international licence. This should have been completed before you left your home country.

Alberta Driver Education & Training offers Brush-Up Courses designed specifically for newcomers to Canada.

License Exchange Process

To help eliminate confusion and to help foreign drivers understand the exchange process Alberta Driver Education & Training Inc. has created a step by step checklist which will help streamline the process as much as possible. Keep in mind this whole process can take anywhere from weeks to months, and involve multiple visits to the registry office. Establishing a good relationship with your local registry is also recommended to help you succeed in exchanging your foreign license.

Step One: Determine what you need

Those who are new to Canada, and wish to drive while they visit do not need to exchange their foreign license for an Alberta driver's licence. On an international license, visitors are allowed to drive during the time period that the international license is valid. Those who are planning to live in Alberta are required to exchange their identification and driver license for Alberta issued licences at an authorized Alberta Registry Agent.

Depending on where the foreign license is from, you may be accredited your existing driving experience, in order to expedite this process.

Step Two: Gather your documents

Phoning your local registry agent, or paying them a visit to understand what will be involved in exchanging a license is a great idea - but do not show up unprepared. In order for Alberta Registries to start the exchange process, or perhaps even to answer your qeustions, you need to provide certain documentation to satisfy core criteria:
Status: - This is documentation that allows you to be in Canada.
  • For Canadians this would be a passport or birth certificate.
  • Foreigners would need to produce Permanent Residency cards or Work and Study Permits

Residency: - Documentation to prove where you live in Alberta.
  • Mail from banking institutes or utility bills are best
  • Mortgage or rental agreements are also acceptable

Identification: - Proper identification must also be shown
  • A passport or government issued identification is usually best

Step Three: Visit an Alberta Registry

Depending on where the foreign license is from you may have to go through different processes. There are typically three main processes:
  • Countries with reciprocity will recognize your license and exchange it for an equivalent Alberta license. Depending on which country you may or may not be subject to further road testing. For a list of nations that offer reciprocity, click here.

  • Drivers from a country without Canadian reciprocity may submit documentation from their native driving authority and provide these to the government for verification. During this process your driving experience will be considered and may be accredited to you. This will effectively reduce your probationary period that all Alberta learners must go through. However, testing is still required in order for you to obtain your Alberta Driver's License.

  • If your application is not approved then you will be required to start from the beginning of the GDL process. This means that you will need to start by writing your learners test. Once passed you will be required to wait for one full year before you are eligible to challenge the Alberta Basic Class 5 Road Test. After you pass this test you will be given a Class 5 GDL license. Class 5 GDL license holders have the following conditions: zero alcohol tolerance, cannot teach a Class 7 (learners), may not have more passengers than seatbelts, and can have a maximum of 8 demerits before license suspension. You are then required hold the Class 5 (Basic) GDL license for two full years and remain suspension free before you are eligible to challenge the Class 5 Advanced Road Test. Once you pass this test you will then hold a full Class 5 Advanced License.

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