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Full Guide to Renewing your Driver's License in Canada for Immigrants

Canada has always been one of the top choices for immigrants from Hong Kong, especially Vancouver and Toronto are the most popular cities. Do you know if you can still use your Hong Kong’s driver’s license after you immigrate to Canada? What do you need to do with them? Today, Simard & Associates has put together a guide for Hong Kong residents on how to get a driver’s license in Canada.

Can a Hong Kong driver's license be exchanged to a Canadian driver's license?

At the moment, there is no way to directly exchange your Hong Kong driver’s license to a Canadian driver’s license. If you are an immigrant, you can only use your Hong Kong driver’s license to drive in Canada for up to 60 days. Even if you have already applied for an International Driving Permit and can get a longer driving grace period, you should be aware that you cannot purchase auto insurance with an International Driving Permit.

Therefore, it is advisable to obtain a local driver’s license as soon as possible. Although you can’t directly exchange it for a local driver’s license, holding a Hong Kong driver’s license will allow you to skip the Canadian driving test.

How to get a Driver's Licence as a newcomer

In Canada, there are several stages to get a driver’s license, but the specific process differs in each province. It is recommended that you first read the relevant information for your province.

G1 Written test

You can obtain a G1 license if you are at least 16 years old, including those who hold a work permit or study permit and pass an eye test and a written test. After that, you will need to practice with a driver who is at least four years old at a specified time. If you want to learn to drive with a mentor, you can also do so.

G1 License Restrictions:

Restrictions are very strict and the licensee must be accompanied by a person with 4 years of driving experience and a G license. There must be zero alcohol while driving and no driving between the hours of 12 midnight and 5 a.m. This also includes most highways.

G1 Road Test

After 12 months of receiving your G1 license, you can take a road test. The scope of the test includes road driving, turning around on narrow roads, and parking.

G2 license restrictions:

For the G2 license, drivers must also have zero alcohol, but mainly for young drivers under the age of 19. For the first six months, drivers under the age of 19 can only carry one passenger, also under the age of 19, between the hours of 12 midnight and 5 a.m. After six months, the limit is relaxed to three passengers. For example, if the driver has four years of accumulated driving experience and holds a G license, this limit is not applied.

G2 Road Test

Within one year of receiving your G2 license, you can take the highway test. This test will include the G1 test as well as the highway section. Candidates must maintain the appropriate speed and distance and will be issued a full G license upon success. It is important to note that candidates must obtain their G1 license within 5 years of receiving it, and if they are not successful, they must start over again.

What are the advantages for Hong Kong drivers getting a driver’s license in Canada?

The general process for candidates to take the driving test is as follows.

  1. After taking the written test (pass and get a G1 license), you must wait one year to take the G1 road test (pass and get a G2 license), then wait another year to take the G2 road test and get a G license.
  2. If you already have a car license in Hong Kong and have more than two years of driving experience, you can skip the waiting period and the G1 road test after passing the written test and take the G2 highway test to obtain a G license.
  3. On the other hand, if you already have a Hong Kong license but do not have two years of experience, you can skip the one-year waiting period and take the G1 road test directly after passing the written test.
  4. If you want to take a driving test with a Hong Kong license, you need to complete the ” APPLICATION FOR A CERTIFICATE OF DRIVING LICENCE PARTICULARS” form issued by the Transport Department to prove that your license was obtained in Hong Kong and the number of years you have actually held the license. You can fill out the TD320 form and mail it in with a copy of your license plate and a cheque for HK$160, which takes about 10 working days.

Buying Car Insurance for Canadian Drivers

To be able to drive in Canada, you must buy auto insurance. If you are the owner of a car, it is even more important to purchase insurance for your car. If you drive a friend’s car regularly, you must make sure that your name is added to their auto insurance policy. Car insurance in Canada is the same as car insurance anywhere else, and the premium depends on a number of factors, including the driver’s age, driving record, area of residence, and driving experience.

However, car insurance in Canada is slightly expensive, and even a person with a good driving record will probably spend about $2,000 a year on car insurance premiums. If you are a member of certain organizations or institutions, such as the Institute of Certified Public Accountants or some university student associations, Canadian insurance companies may give you a discount of 20% to 30%. In addition, if you choose to buy your home insurance and auto insurance from the same insurance company, they may be willing to give you a discount.

Transferring your Hong Kong NCD/NCB to Canada 

Unfortunately, insurance companies here often don’t consider your previous No Claims Discount (NCD) / No Claims Bonus (NCB). That’s why you’ll have to recalculate your no claim discounts from scratch.

What problems do immigrants encounter when replacing, testing and insuring a car in Canada?

  1. If I immigrate to Canada with a Hong Kong license, can I change my license directly?

No, you will have to take a new test if you are in Canada, but you can cross over to the next level if you have a Hong Kong license.

  1. How can I prove my driving experience in Hong Kong?

In addition to presenting your Hong Kong driver’s license, you also need to go to the Hong Kong Transport Department in advance to apply for a driver’s license details.


The above information is for your reference only. Knowing more about local life before you immigrate will help you in your immigration life. Simard & Associates brings together a team of experienced immigration consultants to help you navigate the immigration hurdles and find your ideal home abroad.


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