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Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations - Registry of Motor Vehicles

Driver's Licence

Who Needs This Licence?
Anyone who lives in Nova Scotia and wants to operate a motor vehicle on public roads and highways in Nova Scotia.
For information on renewing your licence, see Expiry & Renewal, below. . . 
For information on replacing your licence or changing the address on it, see (Additional Information E), (F) and (G), below. . . 
Classes of Driver's Licences:  In Nova Scotia, drivers are licensed according to the type(s) of vehicle(s) they are qualified to drive.  As a result, there are several different classes of Nova Scotia Driver's Licences. These include:
Class 5 -- (the most common) -- for driving cars, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans having a seating capacity of less than 24;
Class 7 -- Learner's Licence, for those learning to drive class 5 vehicles (see Learner's Licence);
Class 1 -- for driving semi-trailers and tractor-trailer combinations;
Class 2 -- for driving large buses (over 24 passengers);
Class 3 -- for driving vehicles or vehicle-trailer combinations weighing greater than 14,000 kilograms;
Class 4 -- for driving smaller buses, vans seating under 24 passengers for compensation, taxis and ambulances;
Class 6 -- for driving motorcycles and motor-driven cycles (see Motorcycle Driver's Licence);
Class 8 -- for driving farm tractors.

For more on Classes 1-2-3-4 and 8, see the Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook, or contact Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations (see Where can you get. . .., below).

Graduated Driver Licensing System:
Nova Scotia has a Graduated Driver Licensing system with 3 levels:
(1) Learner's Licence, sometimes called Beginner's (see Learner's Licence);
(2) Newly Licensed Driver's Licence (see Newly Licensed Driver's Licence);
(3) regular Driver's Licence (this section).

All new drivers have to graduate from the first 2 levels before they can get a regular Driver's Licence.

Visitors or Newcomers who have a valid driver's licence from another part of Canada, or from another country, can drive in Nova Scotia for up to 90 days without getting a Nova Scotia Driver's Licence.  After that, you need a Nova Scotia licence.  (For more on this, see Application Forms & Process, Group 4, below. . .)

Issuing Department / Agency:
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
Where can you get this Licence and / or further information?
Phone: 902-424-5851 or if calling long distance, 
call 1-800-898-7668 (toll-free)
Visit:

Registry of Motor Vehicles Offices are located in Most Access Nova Scotia locations

E-mail: Send us an e-mail through our online enquiry form.
Website: http://www.novascotia.ca/snsmr/rmv
Write:

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
PO Box 1652
Halifax, NS  B3J 2Z3
Canada

Fax: 902-424-0720
Application Forms & Process:
Apply in Person:  You have to come to one of the offices listed above to apply for a Driver's Licence, because a photo must be taken for the licence. For information on Identification Requirements, please visit the Registry of Motor Vehicles website.
Under certain circumstances you can get a licence with no photo on it.  For more information, contact the Department (see Where can you get. . .., above).

Form:   An Application for Driver Licence form can be picked up at the office when you come in to apply.

Groups:  People who want to apply for a regular Nova Scotia Driver's Licence fall into one of four groups
(1) brand new drivers; 
(2) drivers already participating in the Graduated Driver Licensing system; 
(3) drivers who used to have a Nova Scotia Driver's Licence but don't now; and 
(4) visitors and newcomers with an out-of-province, out-of-country driver's licence.  
Each of these is explained separately below.

1) GROUP ONE -- Brand new drivers: (someone who never had any kind of Driver's Licence before).  In Nova Scotia, all new drivers have to proceed through the Graduated Driver Licensing system before they can get a regular Driver's Licence.  They start by getting a Learner's Licence.

2) GROUP TWO -- Drivers participating in the Nova Scotia Graduated Driver Licensing system:
After you get your Learner's Licence, you are in the Graduated Driver Licensing system.  The next step is to get your Newly Licensed Driver's Licence -- and you have to do that before you are eligible to apply for a regular Driver's Licence.  [That process is explained in the section on the Newly Licensed Driver's Licence.]

3) GROUP THREE -- People who used to have a regular Nova Scotia Driver's Licence, but don't now:
These drivers fall into one of two situations:
(a) Situation # 1:  your Nova Scotia Driver's Licence has expired -- but it expired less than 3 years ago.  In that case, you can renew your Driver's Licence without taking the written test or a road test (Driving Examination).  There is no waiting period.

(b) Situation # 2:  Your Nova Scotia Driver's Licence expired more than 3 years ago. In that case, when you apply for a new Driver's Licence, you will be required to purchase a knowledge test receipt and road test receipt and successfully complete vision, signs, rules and road tests. For a Class 1, 2, 3, or 4 Driver’s Licence, you must provide a satisfactory medical.

[For more information on the vision test, and the tests on Road Signs and Traffic Safety rules, click here.)

You can book an appointment for this road test as soon as you feel ready to take it.

For information on what you have to do to pass this road test, see the Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook.

For information on exactly what you have to do to set up a road test, see Newly Licenced Driver's Licence, Additional Information (F).

As soon as you pass the road test, you can get your Driver's Licence. All conditions associated with the licence shall be re-established.

4) GROUP FOUR -- Visitors and Newcomers:
Visitors:   If you are a visitor to Nova Scotia and (a) you are at least 16, and (b) you already have a valid driver's licence from another part of Canada (or from another country), you can drive in Nova Scotia for up to 90 days without getting a Nova Scotia Driver's Licence.  After that, you need a Nova Scotia licence.

New residents:   You need to get a Nova Scotia driver's licence within 90 days of becoming a resident.  You are considered to be a resident if:   (a) you are attending school or college here; or (b) you live here and your children attend school here; or (c) you are employed here for more than 30 days in any given year; or (d) you live here for more than 90 days in any given year.

Canada and United States:   People who have a valid regular Driver's Licence from Canada or the United States can usually exchange their licence for a Nova Scotia Driver's Licence, and they do not have to take a road test (Driving Examination).  This applies to Class 5 licences (see classes of licences at the start of this section).

To get a Nova Scotia driver's licence, if you're from another Canadian province or the United States, you must:

  • be at least 16 years of age,
  • disclose all medical conditions or physical disabilities that may affect your ability to safely drive a motor vehicle,
  • surrender your driver's license at the time of exchange, and
  • pay normal fees for the issuance of a licence.
  For information on the rules covering other classes of driver's licences, contact the Department (see Where can you get. . ..., above).

If your licence is from New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island, and it is not due to expire within the next 6 months, you can exchange it for a Nova Scotia Driver's Licence, at no fee. While the exchange of the licence is free, there is a photo administration fee of $11.55.

If you are attending school as a full time student, you may exchange your out of province/country licence for a Nova Scotia driver’s licence for a fee of $24.35. The expiry on your Nova Scotia licence will be the same as the expiry on your licence being exchanged (up to five years).  You will be required to provide proof that you are a full time student (i.e. a signed letter from an educational institution stating you are a full-time student).

Other Countries with a Reciprocal Driver's License Exchange Agreement with Nova Scotia: Austria: Regular Class 5 driver's licence.
Germany: Regular Class 5 Driver's Licence.
Isle of Man: Regular Class 5 or Class 6 driver's licence.
South Korea: Regular Class 5 or Class 6 driver's licence.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Regular Class 5 or Class 6 driver's licence.

To get a Nova Scotia driver's licence, if you're from a country with a reciprocal license exchange agreement, you must:

  • be at least 16 years of age,
  • take a vision screening test,
  • disclose all medical conditions or physical disabilities that may affect your ability to safely drive a motor vehicle,
  • provide an English translation of your license (if licence being exchanged is not in English or French).
  • surrender your driver's license at the time of exchange, and
  • pay normal fees for the issuance of a licence.

If you are requesting a different class of licence or an endorsement, you must complete a full drivers examination, which includes the purchase of a knowledge test receipt and road test receipt, and, successful completion of vision, signs, rules and road tests for the class of licence applied for. For a Class 1, 2, 3, or 4 Driver's Licence, you must also provide a satisfactory medical.

Other Foreign Countries:  People who have a valid driver’s licence from other foreign countries will be required to purchase a knowledge test receipt and road test receipt and successfully complete vision, signs, rules and road tests. See How to obtain a Regular Class 5 Driver's Licence for additional information. For a Class 1, 2, 3, or 4 Driver’s Licence, you must provide a satisfactory medical.

[For more information on the vision test, and the tests on Road Signs and Traffic Safety rules, click here.]

You can book an appointment for this road test as soon as you feel ready to take it.

For information on what you have to do to pass this road test, see the Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook.

For information on exactly what you have to do to set up a road test, see Newly Licenced Driver's Licence, Additional Information (F).

As soon as you pass the road test, you can get your Driver's Licence.


Issuing the Licence:
Once you have met all the required conditions, there is no further waiting period to get your licence; you pay the fee and your licence is processed right at the counter (including taking a photo for your licence, if needed).  However, there are some Regional Offices which do not have a photo machine.  In that case, you may have to go to another office which has a photo machine to get your licence.
Expiry & Renewal:
1)  A Nova Scotia Driver's Licence is valid for 5 years.  It can be renewed, and the Department will send out a renewal notice before it expires.  So be sure to let the Department know if you change your address! (See Additional Information (E), below. . .) 

Note:  You can provide us with your change of address online.

2)  The Driver's Licence will expire on your birthday.

(Because of that, it is sometimes valid for slightly less than 5 years.  For example, if your birthday is May 23, and you get your licence in July 2006, it will be valid until May 23, 2011.) 

3)  At any point during the last 6 months before it expires, you can renew your Driver's Licence.  But not before.

4)  You have to come to the office in person to renew your licence, because a new photo must be taken for the licence.

5)  You can pick up the application form which you need at the service counter or bring in your renewal notice that was mailed to you.

6)  When you are speaking to the customer service representative at the counter, you should tell them if either of these 2 situations apply to you:

1)  If your licence was suspended or revoked at any point since the last time you renewed it; or
 
2)  If there have been any changes to your health which might have changed your ability to drive safely (for example, you did not need glasses for driving before, but now you do).

Note:  If either of those two situations apply to you, and you don't tell the counter person when you are renewing your licence, your driving privileges may be cancelled.
Application Process:  Other Items:
Procedures for replacing your Driver's Licence, or changing your name or changing your address on your licence, are explained below (see Additional Information, E, F & G ).
Price & Payment:  (No tax is charged)

Payment at counter:  cash, debit card, Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit card, cheque or money order made out to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Road Test or Knowledge Test Receipts Only - Payment Online: You can pay for a Knowledge Test Receipt (written  test) or a Road Test Receipt online using your Debit card (Interac® Online), or Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card. Driver Test Payment

1. Driver's Licence:

[These classes are explained at the beginning of this section]

CLASS

RENEWAL

7
Learner's Licence, for those learning to drive class 5 vehicles 
(see Learner's Licence);
Initial price:  $ 24.35

* $24.35

* Note: To renew,
all tests must
be taken again.

5N
Newly-licensed Driver's Licence

$77.80

5
(the most common) -- for driving cars, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans having a seating capacity of less than 24;

$77.80

LM
(the Learner's Motorcycle Licence) -- which permits a new motorcycle driver to drive a motorcycle.
Initial price:  Free

* N/A

* Note: To renew,
all tests must
be taken again.

6N
Newly-licensed Motorcycle Driver's Licence

$77.80

6
motorcycle drivers licence
(see Motorcycle Driver's Licence)

$77.80

8
for driving farm tractors.

$71.60

4
for driving smaller buses, vans seating under 24 passengers for compensation, taxis and ambulances;

$84.05

3
for driving commercial trucks, and all passenger vehicle-trailer combinations weighing more than 14,000 kilograms (approximately 15 tons);

$89.70

2
for driving large buses (over 24 passengers);

$95.95

1
for driving semi-trailers & tractor-trailers;

$102.15

2. Endorsements: A, B, C, D & E: $11.55

3. Upgrades:  $11.55
To upgrade to another class of licence, you must first meet certain criteria.  Depending on the class of licence you want to get, this process may involve classroom training, road testing and knowledge testing.   For further information, contact the Department (see Where can you get. . .., above).

4. Address Change Free
(However, if you wish to display the new address on your existing licence, you may apply for a replacement by visiting an Access Nova Scotia or Registry of Motor Vehicles office and paying the applicable fee.)

5. Replacement Driver's licence: $24.35

6. Name Change on Driver's Licence: $24.35

7. Other: For the prices of other transactions, contact the Department (see Where can you get. . .., above).

Related Requirements:
Under some conditions, Medical certificates or Optical certificates may be required. 
Additional Information:
A) PHOTO:
A photograph of the licence holder is on all Nova Scotia Driver's Licences.  Under certain circumstances, you can get a licence with no photo on it.  For more information, contact the Department (see Where can you get. . .., above).
Note: for information on the general-use Nova Scotia Photo Identification Card, see the section for Identification Cards (Photo).

B) USING SEAT BELTS:
(1)  Seat belts -- driver:  It is mandatory that drivers in Nova Scotia wear a seat belt. If you are caught driving without your seat belt on, you will get 2 points (demerits) on your licence.  (See (C) Points & Suspensions, below)

(2)  Seat belts -- passengers:  All other people riding in the vehicle also have to wear a seat belt -- if there is a seat belt available.  (Or, in the case of young children, a seat restraint appropriate for that age -- such as a car seat.)


So, for example, if there are 3 people in the back seat, and the back seat has 3 seat belts, then ALL 3 of them have to wear a seat belt.  However, if the back seat has only 2 seat belts, then only 2 of them have to wear a seat belt.

Another example: if a car has 2 seatbelts in the front and 2 in the back, you can't have 3 people sitting up front and one of them with no seat belt on.  The 3rd person has to move to the back and use one of those seatbelts.

(3)  If you are under 16 and you are caught without your seat belt on, whoever is driving will get 2 demerit points.

(4)  If you are over 16, then you will get the demerit points.  (a) If you have a Driver's Licence (any kind), you will get 2 points on your licence immediately.  (b) If you do not have a Driver's Licence, the 2 demerit points will be saved in the computer, and they will be put on your licence if you ever do get one.

(5)  There are some exceptions to the seat belt rules.  For information on those exceptions, or on the special rules dealing with infants and small children, see the Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook or contact the Safety Services Nova Scotia (telephone: 902-454-9621).

C) POINTS & SUSPENSIONS:
Nova Scotia has a demerit point system for drivers.  If you are caught breaking the driving laws (for example, by careless driving or speeding. . ..), then you will get demerit points on your licence.

After you get a certain number of demerit points, you will have to come in for an interview with a Driver Enhancement Officer, and you will have to pay for it.  The fee for this interview is $66.70 (tax included).  For your interview, you have to do 2 things: (1) you have to pay for it in advance, and (2) you have to make an appointment in advance.

For more information, contact the Department (see Where can you get. . ., above. . .) 

D) FAILING A BREATHALYZER TEST:
If the police have a good reason to think that you are impaired by alcohol when you are driving, you will be ordered to give a breath sample.  There are 2 steps to this process: (1) a roadside screening test, and (2) the actual breathalyser test.

(1)  If the roadside test shows that your blood alcohol level is below.05, you may be allowed to go on your way.

If you refuse to take the roadside test, you will be charged.

(2)  If the roadside test shows that your blood alcohol level is between .05 and .08, you get an IMMEDIATE 24-hour suspension of your driver's licence. The duration of the suspension is dependent upon the number of previous alcohol-related suspensions that you have been issued. A first suspension is for 7 days, a second for 15, and a third or subsequent for 30. If there is no other licensed driver with you to drive your car, it may be towed away and stored. If it is, you will have to pay towing and storage charges before you can get it back.

This suspension will be recorded on your Driving Record, and stay there permanently. While you will not get demerit points or have to pay a fine for this suspension, you will be required to pay a license reinstatement fee at the expiry of the suspension period . (3)  If the roadside test shows that your blood alcohol level is.08 or above, you will be ARRESTED.   At this level, you are considered "legally impaired."  You will have to leave your car, go with the police to the nearest station, and then take a breathalyzer test.  If you refuse, you will be charged.  If you take the test, and your blood alcohol level is.08 or higher, you will be charged.

(4)  If you are charged, the police will immediately order a three-month suspension of your driving privileges.  That means that, starting immediately, your Driver's Licence is taken away for 3 months, while a court date is set for your trial.

As part of this process, you will also get a 7-day temporary licence, to give you a week to arrange alternative transportation.
This three-month suspension will be recorded on your Driving Record, and it will stay there permanently.

(5)  If you are then convicted in court, you will lose your licence for at least 1 year from the date you are found guilty.  (Note: the penalty starts counting not from the day you were charged, but from the day you are convicted.) For more on the penalties for impaired driving, see part (K) below.

Note: such a conviction usually leads to a very large increase in the cost of your automobile insurance, if and when your licence is re-instated, and those increased costs will continue for many years thereafter.  Often, the accumulated extra costs amount to over $10,000.  For more information on this, contact your insurance agent.

E) CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS:
When you move, within 1 month you are required by law to let the Department know your address has changed.

To do that, it is NOT necessary to replace the licence. However, if you wish to display the new address on your existing licence, you may apply for a replacement by visiting an Access Nova Scotia or Registry of Motor Vehicles office and paying the applicable fee. You can go to any of the offices listed above, or you can advise change through the mail (see the mailing address given at the beginning of this section under Where can you get. . ... )  You can also provide us with your change of address via the internet.

DO NOT send in your licence; just send a letter stating what you want, and giving: (a) the master number on your licence, (b) your new address, and (c) your signature.  How to find your "master number" is explained in (H) Master Number, below. . .

Note: Address(s) provided must be a Nova Scotia address.

F) CHANGING YOUR NAME on a Driver's Licence:
If you want to change your name on your driver licence (for example, when you get married), then you have to replace the licence.

This cannot be done over the phone; you have to come to the office in person in order to give the Department your new signature.  No new photo needs to be taken.  (You must bring supporting documentation such as your Marriage Certificate or Change of Name Certificate from Vital Statistics to prove your name has actually been changed.) The application form is filled out when you get to the counter.  There is no waiting period.

G) REPLACING a lost or stolen Driver's Licence:
(1) Applying in person:
You fill out a regular Application for Driver Licence form when you get to the counter.  The Customer Service Representative will need to know your name and date of birth to bring up your records.  Usually, no new photo needs to be taken, because your photo is already in the computer.  There is no waiting period.

(2) If you are out of the province, and you cannot remember your driver Master Number, you can phone one of the above numbers and talk to a Customer Service Representative.

(3) You can write to the Department and explain your situation.  (See the mailing address given at the beginning of this section under Where can you get. . ... )

H) MASTER NUMBER:
When you see the term "Master Number" or "Client Master Number" on an application form, it refers to the number on your Driver's Licence under the heading "Master".  This 14-digit number is made up of
(a) the first 5 letters of your last name [if your last name has fewer than 5 letters, the difference is made up with spaces]; (b) plus the day / month / year of your birth;
(c) plus 3 computer-assigned numbers.

For example: FINCH--220867001 [5 letters (Finch) + 22 (for 22nd) + 08 (for August, 8th month of the year) + 67 (for 1967) + 001 (3 computer-assigned numbers) ]
For master numbers assigned to a group of individuals (joint ownership), the last 9 digits are computer-assigned.

I) ROAD TESTS (Driving Examinations):
For information on what you have to do to pass road tests, see the Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook.
For information on exactly what you have to do to set up a road test, see Newly Licenced Driver's Licence, Additional Information (F).

J) MOTORCYCLES: (See Motorcycle Driver's Licence.)

K) PENALTIES FOR IMPAIRED DRIVING:
Over and above other penalties (fines, etc.), Nova Scotians convicted of driving while impaired will lose their driving privileges for various periods, as follows:

Alcohol-related offences (Within a 10-year period):

1st offence: you lose your licence for 1 year from the day you are convicted (not the day you were arrested).

2nd offence: lose your licence for 3 years. . .

3rd offence: lose your licence Indefinitely: at least 10 years. . .

4th offence: Permanent: you lose your driving privileges forever.  That means you will never get your driver's licence back.

Non-alcohol convictions under the Criminal Code (including drug impairment):

1st offence within a 10-year period: you lose your licence for 5 years from the day you are convicted (not the day you were arrested);

2nd offence: lose your licence Indefinitely: at least 10 years. . .

For more information on penalties, contact the Department (see Where can you get. . ., above).

L) OTHER INFORMATION:
For more information on any matters discussed in this section, contact the Department (see Where can you get. . ., above).

Legislative Authority:
Motor Vehicle Act, Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1989, Chapter 293, Section(s) 64-78

Last Updated: June 2013

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