Ontario, Canada has a graduated licensing system that you’re currently going through. The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) for Ontario has restrictions in place for both G1 and G2 drivers. The restrictions list for a G2 license does not include driving out of the providence or into the United States.

We contacted the Ontario, Canada Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to find out for certain if G1 or G2 licensed drivers could drive out of their province and into the United States since the restriction and conditions listed by the MTO for these graduated licenses does not say for certain.

The representative of the MTO stated that while the G1 license is a learner’s permit and as such, only meant for practice driving in Ontario with a licensed accompanying driver present at all times.  However, the MTO went on to say that once you are outside Ontario, you are subject to the laws of the jurisdiction you are traveling in, not Ontario’s laws. The rep. for the MTO noted that you should check first with the licensing authorities of the province or state about the validity of Ontario novice licenses there BEFORE you travel.

A novice license is not considered to be fully licensed for driving the MTO noted and whether a Class G2 license is accepted depends on the laws, including minimum driving age, in the province or state you are driving in.

It is likely that your Canadian restrictions will still be in place even while driving outside of Canada, but it may be that you are only required to abide by the restrictions of the state in which you are operating a car. The MTO representative stated that you can call the Service Ontario Driver and Vehicle contact center at 416-235-2999 or 1-800-387-3445 (Canada wide) and speak with a customer service representative if you have additional questions or need clarification.

Before driving into the US with your G2, contact the state or state’s DMVin which you plan to drive. By checking with the DMVs you will be assured that these States will recognize your G2 license and can make certain that there are not any other restrictions put onto your according to various state laws. 

What do border states say about the G2?

We contacted a few states near the Canadian border to see if they allowed for G2 drivers to operate a vehicle in their state. Here is what the DMVs that responded had to say:

The Wisconsin DOT stated that foreign visitors who will be in Wisconsin less than one year and are at least 16 years old, may drive in Wisconsin without obtaining a Wisconsin driver license provided they possess a valid driver license from one of the countries that are party to the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic (Geneva, 1949) and the Convention on the Regulation of Inter-American Motor Vehicle Traffic (Washington, D.C., 1943). It does not matter what their visa status is. Canada is on the list and is party to the agreements. Foreign visitors, whose country is not on this list, cannot drive in Wisconsin.

In addition to having a valid foreign driver’s license, visitors are advised by the WI licensing agency to carry an International Driving Permit, as authorized by the 1943/1949 or 1968 conventions, or attach an English translation to their national driving license. The International Driving Permit is translated into the nine official languages of the United Nations, including English, and serves as a translation to be used in conjunction with the visitor’s valid driver’s license. It can be useful in emergencies, such as traffic violations or auto accidents, particularly when a foreign language is involved. Visitors from foreign countries must obtain their International Driving Permit in their native country prior to arrival in the U.S.

The Michigan Secretary of state said that you would have the same privileges in Michigan that you would have in Canada regardless of whether you hold a G1 or G2. If you have other questions, feel free to contact the SOS at 888-767-6424.

The state of Minnesota representative was confused about what a G1 was but once he found out from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about this graduated licensing system Ontario has in place he said there should be no problems. Minnesota law does allow a person to drive in Minnesota as long as the person has a valid driver license from their home country.

The representative from the Minnesota DMV noted MN Statute 171.03 Persons Exempt (excerpt) section (d) states a nonresident who is at least 15 years of age and who has in immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued to the nonresident in the home state or country may operate a motor vehicle in this state only as a driver.

In Pennsylvania, an international permit, obtained from your home country prior to traveling, may be used for one year from the issue date according to PennDOT. You must carry both your international permit and your valid foreign license with you when driving. If you do not have the International Permit, you will not be able to drive in Pennsylvania.

New York State said that there are restrictions if you drive in New York with a learner permit issued by another state or country. There are different restrictions if you are less than 18 years old and you drive in New York with a driver license issued by another state.

You must obey the restrictions of both the state that issued the driver license or the learner permit and the New York restrictions on learner permits or junior licenses. Contact the state (country) that issued the learner permit or the driver license to learn about the restrictions in that state. If your learner permit is only valid in the state that issued the learner permit, you cannot drive in New York.

You cannot drive in New York if you are less than 16 years old. A learner permit or a driver license from another state or country does not exempt you from this rule.

Make sure you’re covered by insurance

After checking with the DMV of the state(s) you plan to drive in with your G2 from Ontario and finding out if you are permitted to drive and with what restrictions, you will also want to check with your insurer. You should check with your Canadian insurance company to see if your coverages will extend to you as a G2 license holder taking a trip into the United States.  State car insurance requirements vary greatly, so make sure you’re insured properly for wherever you drive in the U.S.