How to Get Your Truck Driver License in Canada

Truck driver training will assist you in getting your truck driving license in Canada – this varies by name and province.

There are also different classes for each type of truck such as Tractor Trailer, Straight Truck, etc., and is named differently depending on what province you live in.

mountain truck

Ontario

In Ontario to obtain a Class A License you need to first get a medical done, you can get it done at your family doctor or through an occupational health center, once you have that done you take a copy of your medical with you when go to your nearest Drive Test center.

You will be required to pass an eye test as well as submitting your medical. You will then have to take a written test which will test your knowledge on signs and general road knowledge when it comes to operating a Commercial vehicle.

truck carrying lumber

After you have passed the written test you will have what is known as a beginners A License. You then will start your schooling at a truck driving school where you will spend time in class and in the truck. On your first day of in class your school will have you take an Air brake endorsement class which will give you your “Z” endorsement on your license that you will be required to have in order for you to operate a commercial vehicle for your schooling.

As for the schooling, the Ontario government is currently going through the process of mandating entry level training standards, so some of the process could change but at the moment this is the most basic route to obtain your Class A.

Once you pass a ministry road test, you will then have a full A class license in the Province of Ontario.

There is also a restricted A class license in Ontario but that only applies to smaller vehicles that pull horse/utility trailers or camper trailers.

To obtain a Class D license in Ontario which allows you to drive straight trucks, you follow the same steps as you do for your class A license.

Quebec

The process in Quebec is similar to Ontario with some exceptions. In Quebec it’s called a Class 1 license for a tractor trailer. To obtain a Class 1 license in Quebec you must meet the following requirements. This list comes from the Province of Quebec’s website.

    • Basic requirements
      • Have fewer than 4 demerit points entered on your driving record;
      • Not have had your driver’s license suspended or revoked during the two previous years as the result of accumulating demerit points or a Criminal Code offence;
      • Pass the SAAQ’s vision test;
      • Submit a satisfactory medical report;
      • Pass the knowledge test (consult the costs for obtaining a license for various classes of driver’s license);
      • Pass the 2 road tests.
    • Experience required
      • Have 36 months cumulative experience as a holder of a Class 5 probationary license or Class 5 driver’s license (passenger vehicle) OR
      • Have 24 months cumulative experience if you have successfully completed one of the following training programs:
        • the truck driving training program which leads to the Diploma of Vocational Studies issued by the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport;
        • a 300-hour driving course on the public roadway for heavy vehicles covered by Class 1. This program must include at least 40 hours of driving given by a heavy vehicle driving school AND a professional internship for the number of hours needed to complete the required 300 hours. Applicants must have either of these programs recognized by the SAAQ, which will request certain documents, such as the learner’s daily logs as well as those of the accompanying rider in the case of the 300-hour program.

Medical assessment and vision test
Go to an SAAQ service centre to:

  • undergo a vision test;
  • obtain the medical assessment form that you are required to have your physician fill out. You must send the completed form to the SAAQ.

The length of the learning period is three months or for one month if you take the certified provincial driving course through a certified school. Be at least 25 years of age or have 60 months experience with a class 5 (car) license.

Quebec also has two endorsements that are required to obtain a full class one license. You need to have a F endorsement which is a Air Brakes endorsement and you need a M endorsement to operate a manual transmission truck.

British Columbia

B.C is very similar to Quebec and Ontario, although where you only have to be 18 in Ontario to have a full tractor trailer license, in B.C you have to be 19 to obtain a Class 1 license. You can obtain a Class 3 license (Straight truck) at the age of 18 in B.C. You also have to pass a written test, road test vision test a medical and a air brake knowledge test.

Alberta

You can obtain a Class 1 license which in Alberta is also called a professional license when you turn 18 years of age and is the steps are the same as Ontario as you need to pass a written knowledge test as well as a road test a vision test and a medical. A written air brake test is also a requirement.

alberta yellow transport

Saskatchewan

You can obtain a Class 1 License at the age of 18 as long as you do not hold a novice drivers license. You will need to obtain an “A” endorsement which covers your air brake endorsement, you will need to get a medical done, pass a knowledge test as well as a vision test, You will need to pass your road test which will include passing your pre trip inspection test which if you fail will not get you onto the driving part of the road test.

Manitoba

You can obtain a Class 1 license in Manitoba at the age of 18, you need to pass a knowledge test and for your training you need to have a supervising driver for the authorized instruction involved with your training. You need to pass a road test. You will also need to pass a provincial medical and pass a provincial vision test.

New Brunswick

You need to be 18 to obtain a Class 1 license in New Brunswick, you will also have needed to go through the provinces graduating licensing. You will also need to have a medical done, as well as a vision test, pass a knowledge test and a road test which includes a test of your pre trip inspection on the vehicle. You will also need a “E” endorsement on your license which is your air brake endorsement which requires passing a knowledge test.

Nova Scotia

You can obtain a Class A license in Nova Scotia at the age of 18, you will need to take a provincial medical as well as a vision test which you will do when you go to your local license office to write the knowledge test. Once you pass a knowledge test you will need to pass a provincially mandated road test. You will also need to pass the Air brake endorsement test to add the air brake endorsement to your license.

Prince Edward Island

To obtain a Class I in P.E.I, you need to be at least 19 years old and not currently in the province’s graduated licensing system. You will need to pay what they call an appointment fee which will cost you sixty dollars. You will need to have a provincial medical done as well a vision test. You will need to pass a airbrake endorsement test, as well as a written knowledge test as well as a road test which will include a test of your knowledge of your pre trip inspection.

Newfoundland

You can obtain a Class 1 license in Newfoundland after you have held a class 5 license for at least one year. You must get a provincial medical through a family doctor. When you submit the completed medical form, you must take a written commercial and sign test along with a vision test. You will also require an air brake endorsement for those vehicles equipped with air brakes. You will then be issued a permit authorizing you to receive instruction from a licensed commercial driver for the class of license desired. When you are ready, you must make an appointment at a Driver Examination Center for a road test.

To sum it up all the provinces have for the most part the same process to obtain your Class 1/A license.

When it comes to the medical there are certain medical issues that can eliminate you from driving in the United States. Check with your home province’s list of medical defects that eliminate you from driving a commercial vehicle.

For those drivers that don’t qualify medically in the United States will have what is called a “W” waiver added to their licenses, most of the provinces do this, which will let other jurisdictions that you travel through know that you are medically qualified to drive in Canada, and that your not qualified to drive a commercial vehicle in the USA.

driving test

It is also common for most provinces to use the same system when it comes to how they do their road test. You will have to do a pre trip inspection on the truck and trailer before you do the road test. The examiner is looking to see that you can perform a systematic pre trip inspection on the vehicle. Starting from the drivers side at the front of the truck and working your way around the vehicle to the trailer and then once at the back of the vehicle where you check your marker lights and turn signal lights and brake lights and then up the passenger side of the vehicle. You must also show that you can properly inspect your air brake system, looking for anything from listening to air leaks in the system to being able to measure the amount of travel in the brake stroke of both the truck and the trailer.

Once the outside part of the inspection is done you will be required to do an in cab inspection where you focus on making sure your gages work, test your wipers to make sure they work, checking your low air warning buzzers as well as your seat and making sure that your mirrors are adjusted properly.

Make sure that you also check your truck’s registration to make sure that everything is there and also up to date. Also make sure to check and make sure your fire extinguisher is not empty, also check to make sure you have a first aid kit on board as well as your safety triangles or road flares if you have them, not everyone carries road flares so there is a good chance all you will have will be your emergency safety triangles.

Once you have had the truck running you will again check for any audible air leaks outside the cab of the truck.

You then must perform a coupling to your trailer, here’s where if you’re not careful you can fail your test on the spot. During your schooling they will teach you both the way the examiner will want it done and the way they do it in the real world. The difference being, the examiner will expect you to back your truck up under the trailer and stop just as the plate of the fifth wheel touches the front of the trailer and then they have you get out and hook up your lines and manually check to make sure the kingpin of the trailer is completely in line with the opening of the jaws of the fifth wheel. Then you complete the coupling process by backing under the trailer till the kingpin on the trailer locks into the jaws on the fifth wheel and then you go out and raise the landing gear on the trailer. Once you get out in the real world you back under the trailer completely having the kingpin lock into the jaws of the fifth wheel before you get out and hook up your lines to the trailer.

Once your hooked to your trailer, you again do a walk around listening for air leaks and making sure all the lights on the trailer are working properly.

You will then do a road test which will last approximately 30 minutes where you will have to perform at least one 90 degree backing off the truck and trailer, they will have pylons set up to act as a dock area that you back up between. Once the backing up part of the test is done you will be asked to show that you are capable of driving in city conditions as well as highway conditions. If you can do all that in a safe and competent matter, you will have passed your road test and will have become a newly minted Class 1/A driver.

Check out our guide on how to survive on-the-road truck driving training, and salary range of Canadian truckers.