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Service Nova Scotia - Registry of Motor Vehicles

Learner's (Beginner's) Licence

Who Needs This Licence?

Anyone who wants to get a Nova Scotia Driver's Licence, and has never held a Driver's Licence before.

Classes of Learner's Licences : In Nova Scotia, there are two different types of Learner's Licence:

(1) "Class 7" (the regular Learner's Licence) -- which permits a new driver to drive cars, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans seating less than 10 people;
(2) "Class LM" (the Learner's Motorcycle Licence) -- which permits a new motorcycle driver to drive a motorcycle.

This section is about the regular (Class 7) Learner's Licence.  For motorcycles (Class LM), see the section on Motorcycle Driver's Licence .

Graduated systemNova Scotia has a Graduated Driver Licensing system with 3 stages :
(1) Learner's Licence, sometimes called Beginner's (this section); 
(2) Newly Licensed Driver's Licence (see Newly Licensed Driver's Licence); 
(3) Restricted Individual with Condition 47

All new drivers have to graduate from all three levels before they can get a regular Driver's Licence.

See the section on the Graduated Driver Licence system for more information.
Issuing Department / Agency:
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Service Nova Scotia
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)

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.

Service Nova Scotia
PO Box 1652
Halifax, NS  B3J 2Z3

Fax: 902-424-0720
Application Forms & Process:
For regular (Class 7) Learner's Licence: (cars, pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans seating less than 10 people)

1) Application Form: You fill out an Application for Driver's Licence form, which you can get at any of the offices listed above.

2) Age: You must be at least 16 years old.

3) Under 18: If you are under 18 years old, you have to have written permission of 1 parent (or legal guardian) to get a Learner's Licence. If that person is going to come with you when you apply, they can simply sign Section 2A on the Application for Driver Licence form which you fill out. If they aren't coming, you have to get a Parental Consent Form or an Application form ahead of time, get it signed, and bring it with you when you apply. If you don't have the proper signatures, your application will NOT be accepted.

Note: The parent or guardian who has given their consent can change their mind at any time before the licence holder turns 18 (even if they have already graduated from their Learner's Licence to a Newly Licensed Driver's Licence).. To withdraw their consent, the parent or guardian has to write (not just phone) the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. If that happens, the Licence holder may lose their licence.

4) Proof of age: No matter how old you are, when you come to apply for a Learner's Licence, you have to bring proof of identification. For information on identification requirements click here.

5) In person: You have to come to one of the offices listed above to apply for a Learner's Licence, so that you can take the tests described below.

6) Vision test: You have to pass a vision test.  This includes tests for colour perception; field of vision (minimum120 degrees); sharpness of vision (minimum 20-40); and distance judgment.  If you do not pass, you will have to get a form signed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, and you will have to have proper glasses or contacts before a licence will be issued.  (And after you get your licence, you must always wear them when you are driving.)

7) Knowledge Tests: You have to pass a written test, which has 2 parts: One is on traffic and safe driving rules, and the other is on Nova Scotia highway signs. Each part has 20 multiple-choice questions, and you have to get at least 16 right on each part to pass. You have to pass both parts to get your licence. If you fail one part, you have to take the entire test over.

If you need it, staff can give these tests orally, rather than in writing. To do this, you have to make a special appointment ahead of time.
Details on what you need to know to pass this test are laid out in the N.S. Driver's Handbook. Copies are available at the regional libraries, and at all of the offices handling this licence. (See Where can you get ...., above)  The cost is $9.75, tax included.
The part of the test on safe driving rules is different for those seeking a Learner Motorcycle Licence. That is explained in the Handbook.
It's a good idea to call the Department (see the toll-free number given above) and find out what times this Knowledge test is given at the office where you plan to apply. You do not need an appointment to write this test, BUT not all RMV offices give it every day.

Take a driver knowledge test: Learner's Licence (class 7)

8) Test Receipt: You can pay for the Knowledge test in advance or when you take the test.

The cost is $15.15 (tax included). You can pay the fee at any RMV service location.

When you come in to take your test, first you present your test receipt, and then you will be allowed to take the test. Unless you have your receipt, you cannot take it. (If you lose it, you will have to buy another one.)

Application Process: Other Items:
The process for replacing your licence (because it has been lost or stolen), or changing your name on your licence (for example, after you have married), or changing your address on your licence, are the same as for a regular Driver's Licence. [See Driver's Licence, Additional Information, E, F & G ]
Issuing your Licence:
Once you have passed the Knowledge test, there is usually no waiting period to get this licence; you pay the fee, your photo is taken and you will receive a temporary document which is valid for 30 calendar days. You will receive your new card in the mail within 14 calendar days of visiting an Access Nova Scotia or Registry of Motor Vehicles Office.

The fee for this is $25.10 (No tax is charged),

Warning Note: Even though you have already passed your tests, you cannot legally drive until you actually have your temporary document.

Expiry :
A Learner's Licence issued after April 1, 2015, is good for 2 years.

Once it expires, it is invalid, and you have to apply for a new one (and take all the tests over).

When you arrive, on the day of the road test, the examiner will check to see that you have a valid licence before you go out for the road test.  So to avoid having to take all of the initial test over, please book an appointment for your road test well in advance, because you must complete this test before the expiry date on your licence.

Price & Payment:

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

(1) Knowledge Test receipt: $15.15 (tax included)
(2) Learner's Licence: $25.10 (No tax is charged)
(3) Road Test receipt: $53.00 (tax included) [see below]

Note: You will need to take a road test to graduate to the next licensing level (which is the Newly Licensed Driver's Licence).. You can pay for the road test at the same time you pay for your Learner's Licence, or you can come into the office later and pay for it then. But -- you have to pay for it in advance; you cannot book an appointment for a road test until you have paid for it. (It works this way: when you pay for the test, you get a numbered receipt, and you have to have that number when you call to make the appointment.)   

Please book an appointment for your road test well in advance, because you must complete this test before the expiry date on your licence.  On the day of your appointment, the examiner will check to make sure you have a valid licence before you go out for the road test.

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

Related Requirements:
Under some conditions, applicants may have to produce Medical certificates or Optical certificates.
Additional Information:
A photograph of the licence holder is on all N.S. Driver's Licences (exception: 30 day temporary documents).

Under certain circumstances, you can get an exemption (and a licence with no photo on it). For more information, contact the Department (see Where can you get ...., above).

A Learner's Licence has a large letter "L" on it to alert police that you are a Learner.


(1) First restriction -- zero blood alcohol level:
When you have a Learner's Licence, the tolerance for alcohol content in your blood when you are driving is ZERO. That means, if you are stopped while driving, and asked to take a breathalyzer test, and it shows ANY ALCOHOL CONTENT AT ALL in your blood, your licence will be suspended for 6 months. If your blood alcohol level is over .05, you may get an immediate 24-hour roadside suspension ; if it is over .08, you will be arrested and your licence will be suspended for a full year.  And after your suspension is over, you will have to start over as a Learner; see (D) Points & Suspensions ..., below.

For more information on breath samples and roadside suspension, see Driver's Licence, (D) Failing a Breathalyzer Test.

(2) Second restriction -- an Supervising Driver:
It is illegal for you to drive with a Learner's Licence unless someone who is an " supervising driver " who is seated in the front seat of the vehicle.

Someone counts as an "supervising driver" ONLY if they have a valid regular Driver's Licence . They do NOT count as a supervising driver if they are in the Graduated Driver Licence program.

If someone who does not count as an "supervising driver" is caught pretending to be one, they will be fined, and have points put on their licence, and sometimes even lose their licence. And the Learner Driver could lose their licence as well.

Also, the person who is serving as the "supervising driver" has to be in control of the situation -- so that they can help the Learner if they have to.

(3)Third restriction -- no passengers:
Besides that one supervising driver in the front seat, no other people can be in the vehicle when you are driving with a Learner's Licence.

Exceptions: there are 2 exceptions to these restrictions:
(a) When a Learner is taking a road test, there can be more than one Examiner in the vehicle;
(b) When a Learner is practicing, and IF the car has dual brake controls, and IF an approved driving instructor is seated in the front seat, then there can be as many as 3 students in the back seat of the vehicle, provided there are enough seat belts.

Night Driving : there are no restrictions on night driving for a regular (Class 7) Learner Driver (because they always have to have an supervising driver with them in the front seat of the car.) But there are for Motorcycle Learners, and for people with Newly Licensed Driver's Licences....

Nova Scotia has a demerit point system for drivers, and this applies to Learner's Licences. If you are caught breaking a driving law (for example, by going through a stop sign, or not wearing a seat belt, or speeding ....), then you will get demerit points on your licence.

If you get 4 or more demerit points, your licence will be suspended for 6 months .

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

After your suspension is over, then, no matter how long you already had your Learner's Licence, you will have to go through the full "waiting period" again before you can graduate to the next level (see below ...)

E) GRADUATION to the next level of driver's licence:
After your Learner's Licence, the next level in the graduated licensing system is the Newly Licensed Driver's Licence (Class 5N -- where the "N" stands for "Newly licensed"...)

Road test: Before you can get your Newly Licensed Driver's Licence, you will have to pass a road test (Driving Examination). This involves a waiting period: you usually need to have your Learner's Licence for at least 12 full months before you can take the road test. However, there is an exception:

(a) If you successfully complete an approved Driver Education course that includes at least 25 hours of classroom teaching and 10 hours of driving with an instructor, the minimum waiting period is reduced to 9 months.

Note: The Driving School has to be certified by Service Nova Scotia.
For more information on this road test, see Additional Information (F) in the section on the Newly Licensed Driver's Licence.
F) 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

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