Immigrating to Nova Scotia: How to Get Your Nova Scotia Driver's Licence

Published on Jul 09, 2012

All drivers in Nova Scotia are required to be licensed, and when you come to this province you will have to follow the necessary steps in order to obtain a licence here. How you get a drivers licence in Nova Scotia depends on where you have come from and how much driving experience you have in your past. Some immigrants will be able to exchange their licence; while others will need to take driving tests and may have to use the graduated licence system.

Exchanging Your Licence

Only two nations qualify for a direct exchange of drivers licence in Nova Scotia. These are the United States and Germany. Immigrants from these two countries can exchange their current drivers licence for a Class 5 Nova Scotia licence without taking any of the required driving tests.

People from all other nations will be required to take a test to prove knowledge of the rules of the road in Nova Scotia, and a road test to show proficiency on the road.

If the licence you currently hold is not on par with a Nova Scotia Class 5 licence, then you will need to pass through the graduated licence system in order to obtain a licence. If you hold a permit or a novice-type licence, then you can expect to go through the system and all the required testing.

Steps to Getting a Nova Scotia Licence

You have 90 days from the time you establish residency in Nova Scotia to apply for your drivers licence. Until that time you can drive on your current licence.

In order to apply for a licence in Nova Scotia, you will need to present certain documents. Before you leave your home country, obtain the following:

  • A translated copy of your current licence or an International Drivers Licence in English or French
  • A letter of experience proving your years of driving

When you go to apply, you will need to bring further documentation. This includes proof of your identity and your age, proof that you are legally in Canada, and proof that you are a resident of Nova Scotia. Requirements for proving your identity are outlined here.

Additionally, Nova Scotia requires that you pay for all driving tests required ahead of time, and bring the receipts when you arrive for the test. Without this receipt you can’t make an appointment or take the tests. This applies to the written knowledge test as well as to the road test. You can pay for these tests online for your convenience here, or at the counter.

The tests you will take include a written test outlining the rules of the road and a test on the road signs you will see in Nova Scotia. You can use the Nova Scotia Drivers Handbook to prepare you for these tests. You can also take an online driving theory test in order to prepare you for the exam.

The road test will test your ability to safely navigate Nova Scotia’s streets and highways. This will be the final test required to obtain a licence. Make an appointment by calling toll free 1-800-898-7668

Graduated Licences in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia uses a graduated licence system in order to ensure that new drivers develop the skills they need. If you cannot show that you have held a previous licence, you may need to go through this process in order to drive in Nova Scotia. The steps are:

  • Obtaining a learner’s permit, which must be held for 6 months, but can be reduced to 4 months if you take an approved course
  • Pass the road test and obtain a Newly Licensed Driver licence. This allows you to drive under restrictions
  • Complete the required driver education and two years of clean driving to graduate to a full licence

Most newly arrived drivers will not have to go through this process as long as they can prove that they held a full licence, but they may still have to go through the testing.

Nova Scotia Car Insurance

As a new resident of Nova Scotia, you will be required to purchase car insurance in order to legally drive on the roads. You can compare car insurance quotes from multiple private insurers in order to seek the best rate. Even if you have exchanged your licence for a full drivers licence in Nova Scotia, you may need to provide proof of previous insurance and of a claim-free status in order to qualify for the best rates.


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