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I have a Dutch passport and Dutch driving license, and I have recently moved to Canada (Ontario). Government instructions on transferring driving licenses all seem to assume that new residents will own a car. I will not own a car, but may occasionally drive in cars I don't own, such as rental cars. From the rental company point of view, my Dutch driving license is sufficient. I don't know if the same is true from the government's perspective.

If I do not own a car, will I need to transfer my foreign driving license to an Ontario one?

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If you're visiting for more than 3 months and plan to rent a car once in a while, you have to have an International Driver's Permit to go along with your Dutch license:

If you will be visiting from another country for more than 3 months, you will need an International Driver's Permit (IDP) from your own country.

This is a special licence that allows motorists to drive internationally when accompanied by a valid driver’s licence from their country.

You need to have this permit with you when you arrive in Ontario. You cannot apply for one once you are here.

The tricky part is in the last paragraph there. Assuming you're already in Canada, it sounds like an Ontario license is your best bet. On the upside, it would also double as an ID for pretty much everything you could ever need an ID for.

That said, since you moved to Ontario (even temporarily), you are required to update your license within 60 days:

When you move to Ontario, you can use a valid licence from another province, state or country for 60 days. After 60 days, you need to switch to an Ontario driver’s licence.

The Netherlands isn't on the list of approved countries for a simple license exchange, so you will likely have to go through the motions of getting licensed in Ontario. It sounds like you can claim one year of experience and then just take the tests:

Under 2 years driving experience (no exchange)

When you apply for an Ontario driver’s licence, you need to:

  • take a written test about rules of the road and traffic signs
  • take an eye test

Before you get a full licence, you also need to take two road tests (G1 and G2).

You can book the first road test (G1 road test), after you pass the written and eye tests.

  • I disagree on an important point. I believe you can still claim to be a 'visitor', i.e. not a resident, if you are not planning on setting up in Ontario permanently. Even if you are planning on staying for a year, you can still be a 'visitor'. otherwise, what would be the point of allowing 'visitors' to drive for up to a year on an IDP. @gerrit – DJClayworth Jul 28 '14 at 15:08

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