Graduated Licensing

To become a fully licenced driver, new drivers in the province must pass all stages of Nova Scotia’s graduated licensing program. If your licence is suspended, you should contact your insurer.

​How Do I Get Insured as a New Driver?

Before you buy auto insurance, you need to apply to complete Nova Scotia's 3 level graduated drivers licence system.

To get started, you must:

  1. Be at least 16-years-old and a Nova Scotia resident
  2. If you are 16 or 17, you must provide one of the following:
    1. Written permission from a parent or guardian who has custody over you
    2. Written permission from your employer if both of your parents are deceased and you do not have a legal guardian
    3. Written permission from your spouse (if you are married) if your spouse is over 18-years-old
  3. Pass two written tests, a road sign test and a rules test
  4. Pay the knowledge test fee and book a test at a Registry of Motor Vehicles office
  5. Come to an office and bring with you:
    1. Proof of your age
    2. 2 other pieces of identification that contain your name and signature
    3. A marriage or change of name certificate if your name has changed from the name on your birth certificate
  6. Complete an application for driver's licence form
  7. Pass a vision test
  8. Pay the licence fee

You must buy minimum coverage from a private insurer to begin practice driving with your learner's licence. As a novice driver, it's also important to understand the many unique restrictions that apply to the Learner, Newly Licensed driver's and Experienced Driver's licences.

What Happens with Insurance if my Licence is Suspended?

You must report your licence suspension to your insurer immediately. If your licence is suspended, you will not be insured if you drive during the suspension period. Depending on the type of suspension there might be an increase in the cost of insurance once the suspension is lifted. Drivers must be very careful not to violate any restrictions on their licence.

If you violate either or both of the 2 restrictions while driving with your Learner's licence you will receive demerit points. If you accumulate 4 or more demerit points with a Learner's licence, your driving privileges will be suspended for 6 months. 

If you accumulate 6 points with a Newly Licensed Driver's licence, you will lose your licence for 6 months.

After your suspension is over, no matter how long you already had your Novice Driver's Licence, you will have to wait 2 full years before you can graduate to a regular driver's licence.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Fully Licenced Driver (Class 5)?

It takes a minimum of 27 months to complete both levels of graduated licensing and become a fully licensed driver.

Once you have a Learner's licence, in 3 to 6 months you can be eligible to take the Newly Licensed Drivers – Class 5N test. To receive your Class 5 Experienced Driver's licence you must complete all graduated licensing requirements.

Need more flexibility to use a car for employment purposes? You can complete, sign and submit with the fee an Application for Exemption from Night Time Driving Restrictions for specific days and/or times during the week. If you are not 18-years-old, you will need parental or guardian consent.

Why Are There So Many Steps to Get Licenced?

Novice drivers cause many traffic-related deaths and injuries. In response to accident statistics and successful licensing systems used in other countries, provincial and territorial governments introduced new driver standards in the mid-2000s. 

Graduated licensing is based on research that clearly demonstrates the safety value of this approach over more conventional ones. Most programs include a multi-stage system with mandatory learner and intermediate stages that take place over set time periods before graduation to a full licence.

IBC and Best Practices for Graduated Licensing in Canada

In 2005, Insurance Bureau of Canada supported research conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), a national, independent charitable road safety institute. TIRF's mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. IBC circulated a draft of this report to relevant contacts in driver licensing agencies, or their equivalent, in all jurisdictions across Canada.