New Canadian and Alberta Residents
Applying for an Alberta Driver’s Licence
It is the law in Alberta that a person must surrender any and all foreign driver’s licences when they obtain any class of Alberta operator’s licence. It is illegal in Alberta to hold any other driver’s licence and an Alberta driver’s licence at the same time.
Exchanging a Canadian Licence
A valid licence from another Canadian jurisdiction can be exchanged for an equivalent class (Classes 1 through 7) of operator’s licence. Testing is not normally required. A vision screening is required for all classes. A medical is required for Classes 1, 2 and 4 and may also be required for all other classes if the applicant has a medical condition that may affect their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Applicants must produce acceptable identification and proof of residency.
Exchanging a United States Licence
A valid licence from the United States can be exchanged for a Class 5, 6, or 7 when the applicant presents a valid licence of equivalent class. All other classes would require testing and applicants must provide applicable medical reports and undergo vision screening. All applicants must produce acceptable identification and proof of residency.
Exchanging a Non-Canadian or Non-U.S. LicenceAll applicants must produce acceptable identification and proof of residency.
All documents submitted must be genuine originals, photocopies and faxes are not acceptable. All driver's licences and other documents not in English must be accompanied by a written translation completed by an approved translator. If the client also has an official International Driver's Permit (IDP) issued by their home jurisdiction, it must also be surrendered. Please refer to the Approved Document Translators (pdf) page for information on ministry requirements. Japanese licences that are not accompanied by an official IDP must have a translation done by the Consulate General of Japan.
Please note that there are different requirements for translators for knowledge tests. Please click HERE for a list of approved translators for knowledge tests.
Alberta has Reciprocal Licensing Agreements with the following countries in addition to all Canadian jurisdictions and territories:
- Isle of Man
- Northern Ireland
- Republic of Korea
- United States
A valid licence from a country that has a Reciprocal Licensing Agreement with Alberta can be exchanged for a Class 5 or 5-GDL licence when the applicant presents a valid licence of equivalent class.
The reciprocal licensing agreements with Australia, Isle of Man and Switzerland include the exchange of a class 6 (motorcycle) licence when the applicant presents a valid licence of equivalent class.
Note: Parental consent for applicants under 18 years of age is required.
All other licence classes require testing and vision screening. The applicants must disclose all medical conditions and physical disabilities that may affect their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. All applicants must produce immigration and residency documentation along with acceptable identification.
What is reciprocal licensing?
Persons originating from countries that have signed a Reciprocal Licensing Agreement with Alberta can exchange their out-of-country driver’s licence for an Alberta driver's licence if they are lawfully entitled to be in Canada and have taken up residence in Alberta.
Drivers must meet the following requirements:
- The driver must be at least 18 years of age. (If a applicant is under 18 years of age, consent for a minor, or proof of self-sufficiency or marriage, is required.)
- The driver must present proof of legal presence and residency in Alberta by providing federal travel authorization documents such as employment authorization and record of landing.
- The driver must provide proof of their date first licensed. (If the driver has been licensed for two or more years as a fully licensed driver in their country of origin, the Graduated Driver Licensing program (GDL) conditions do not apply. Please see the Traffic Safety in Alberta website for detailed information.)
- The driver must meet all requirements for the class of licence being applied for in order to drive a motor vehicle.
- The driver will be required to pass a vision screening test and disclose all medical conditions or physical disabilities that may affect their ability to safely drive a motor vehicle.
When is a person exempt from taking a knowledge and/or road test?
A person is exempt from taking a knowledge and/or road test when they provide proof that they previously held a Canadian driver’s licence or a licence from a country with a Reciprocal Licensing Agreement with Alberta and have been consecutively licenced in another jurisdiction since they held that licence. There cannot have been a lapse in licencing during this period in excess of three years.
A person coming to Alberta from outside Canada may apply to have their previous driving history credited to their Alberta driving record. A successful application will grant exemption from the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program and allow for Class 5 road testing without being required to hold a Class 7 driver's licence for one year. The GDL program improves road safety by extending the learning stage for new drivers, regardless of age. New drivers gain more experience and improve their skills under low-risk conditions before graduating to more demanding driving conditions. To become fully licensed, new drivers must show responsible driving behaviours, smooth vehicle handling skills and pass an advanced road test. For more information about GDL, please see the Traffic Safety in Alberta website for additional information.
GDL Program Exemption – Effective August 9, 2010
When applying for an Alberta Operator’s Licence, drivers from other jurisdictions are required to submit their documentation so that previous driving experience can be verified. A new policy allows drivers from other countries to receive credit for previous driving experience when document validation is not possible. Recognition of previous experience means drivers will have an alternative to the three-year Graduated Driver Licensing program that was developed to extend the learning stage for new drivers.
Prior to receiving an Alberta Operator’s Licence, drivers from India and other countries will continue to be required to complete a knowledge test and road test to ensure all drivers have the skills, knowledge and ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Experienced drivers over the age of 25 who have recently immigrated to Canada will have an alternative to the minimum three-year Graduated Driver Licensing Program by completing a government-certified driver education course and signing a declaration stating they have at least two years of driving experience. In addition, drivers will be required to successfully complete a knowledge test and advanced road test to be eligible for a full Class 5 Operator’s Licence.
Experienced drivers under the age of 25 who have recently immigrated to Canada will also have an alternative to the minimum one-year Class 7 requirement. These drivers will be required to successfully complete a knowledge test and basic road test to be eligible for a GDL Class 5 Probationary Licence.
A person using a foreign driver’s licence for GDL exemption must complete a GDL Exemption Application at any Alberta registry office. All licences and any driving documents from a foreign country surrendered for GDL program exemption will be forwarded to the Special Investigations Unit, Service Alberta for authentication.
Additional documentation that supports the driver’s licence and driving history may be required if a licence cannot be authenticated. In some circumstances, it may be impossible to obtain confirmation of previous driving history from a person’s issuing Country, Consulate or Embassy. For more information on driver licensing and the new policy, visit Alberta Transportations website.
Please refer to the User Guide: Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Exemption Program (pdf) if you are surrendering a driver’s licence from one of the following countries:
- Republic of Congo
- Trinidad & Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
What is a non-reciprocal driver’s licence?
A non-reciprocal driver’s licence is a licence issued by a country without a Reciprocal Licensing Agreement with Alberta. All drivers’ licences are considered non-reciprocal unless they are from one of the following countries:
- Isle of Man
- Northern Ireland
- Republic of Korea
- United States
The Reciprocal Licensing Agreement signed with the United Kingdom (UK) includes England, Scotland and Wales. Clients surrendering a driver’s licence from Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland) must complete full testing.
How does a driver from a foreign (non-reciprocal) country apply for Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) exemption?
A driver from a non-reciprocal country can go to any Alberta registry agent office and apply for GDL exemption. They must complete a GDL Exemption Application and surrender their original foreign driver’s licence along with required supporting documents such as confirmation letters or driving abstracts. The application is reviewed by the Service Alberta, Special Investigations Unit. If driving credit is approved, applicants may be exempt from the GDL program.
What is the benefit of being exempt from the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program?
Alberta has implemented the GDL program. A person with no previous driving history is required to complete full testing, beginning with a written Class 7 learner’s test. The driver is required to hold a Class 7 learner’s licence for a one-year period before becoming eligible to take a Class 5 basic road test. The driver is required to complete two years as a Class 5 basic (GDL) driver before taking the Class 5 advanced road test and becoming a full Class 5 driver. If a driver from a non-reciprocal country can prove they have two or more years driving history, they will be exempt from the GDL program. The driver must still write and pass the Class 7 learner’s test but once their application is approved they are eligible for an advanced road test.
Can a person from a non-reciprocal country apply for GDL exemption if they have less than two years driving history?
No, they will not be exempted. However, if they can prove that they have previous driving experience, their file will be credited with that driving time towards the necessary 2 year requirement. They will be eligible to take the Class 5 basic road test immediately after writing and passing the Class 7 learner’s test.
When is a person eligible to take the advanced road test?
When a person has two or more years of documented driving experience that meets ministry requirements.
How do applicants find out if their GDL Exemption Application was accepted or denied?
Applicants must attend a registry office in person, 10 or more business days from the date they applied for GDL exemption. The registry agent office will inform the applicant if the application has been accepted or denied. If an application is denied, the registry agent office will explain to the applicant the reason for denial or of any additional requirements as determined by the Special investigations Unit.
Will the driver’s licence and other documents surrendered for GDL exemption be returned to the client?
No. The documents are retained by Service Alberta as part of the file.
Can a driver surrender photocopies of documentation for GDL exemption?
No. All documents reviewed by Service Alberta must be genuine original documents. It is recommended that a person submitting an original document make a copy for themselves prior to surrendering it as it will not be returned.
Is an English translation required when applying for GDL exemption?
Yes. If the foreign driver’s licence is not in English, it must be accompanied by a written official translation when being submitted for GDL exemption. Please see the translation requirements above for more information.
Who can clients contact if they have questions about the GDL program?
In addition to the Service Alberta website, your local registry agent office and the Ministry of Alberta Transportation can answer your questions regarding the GDL exemption program.