How to get a driver’s license in Alberta - What you Need to Know

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Alberta has a graduated license system with two stages, taken over three years, before getting a full license.  The graduated license system in Alberta consists of two road tests, one basic and one advanced and one written exam. This gives drivers a lot of hands-on experience before they get on the road independently with no restrictions.

The Graduated Licensing System in Alberta

Learner’s (Class 7) license

Commonly referred to as a Class 7 license, a learner license is the first. You have to be at least 14-years-old to apply for a learner’s license.  Note that applicants below the age of 18-years need written consent from their parents to apply. To qualify for the learner’s license, you must pass the vision and knowledge test. To graduate to the next level, you are required to hold the leaner’s license for at least twelve months.

Restrictions under the class 7 license

  • Class 7 drivers are required to drive under the supervision of a driver with a full class 5 license who is above 18 years.
  • Pass the drug test with Zero alcohol consumption.
  • Carry a maximum of one passenger, in addition to the supervising driver.
  • Class 7 drivers cannot drive between midnight to 5 a.m.
  • Class 7 drivers are allowed eight demerit points before their license is suspended.

Probationary (Class 5-GDL) license

After the 12 months with a Class 7 license, drivers go through the probationary or Class 5-GDL to get their full license. You have to pass the basic road test to earn a probationary license. Applicants are encouraged to prepare for the road test by getting lots of driving practice under their class 7 license or taking professional driving lessons. You have to be at least 16-years-old to qualify for the class 5-GDL license.  If you are under 18 years of age, you will need the written consent from a parent or guardian. To upgrade to a full license, you have to hold the class 5-GDL license for a minimum of two years and have no suspension for the second year.

Restrictions under the Class 5-GDL license

  • No alcohol and pass the drug test.
  • Drivers under a Class 5 are allowed eight demerit points before their license is suspended.
  • All passengers are required to have a working seat belt.
  • A class 5-GDL driver cannot act as a supervising driver to a Class 7 driver.

Full (Class 5) license

The final step in Alberta’s graduated licensing system is the full Class 5 driver’s license. You can make an application for the full license after completing two years with a Class 5-GDL license. You must pass an advanced road test taken at a registry agent to earn your full license.

New Residents, Temporary Guest, and Full-Time Students

If you are a new resident, temporary guest, or a full-time student with a valid license from another country or province, you can legally operate vehicles with your license for up to a year. If your country-of-origin license is not English-speaking, bring an International Drivers Permit (IDP) from your country of origin. You are required to carry both your original driver’s license and IDP when driving in Alberta.

Applying for a driver’s license based on previous driving experience.

If you hold a valid license from another country, and have driving experience, you may belong to one of these two categories.

  1. A country with reciprocal arrangement for driver’s licenses

Applicants falling in this category need to have a least two years of experience on a license equal to or higher than a Class 5 license. Since the reciprocal agreement does not provide for class 7 licenses, applicants holding a learner’s license can apply for GDL exemption to reduce the time taken to earn their license.

  1. Your home country does not have a reciprocal arrangement

Applicants from countries with no reciprocal agreement with Alberta can still exchange their driver’s license by applying for the GDL exemption program. Drivers under this category have to pass a road and knowledge test.

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Date Published: Friday, December 10th, 2021
Date Modified: Monday, May 2nd, 2022