Cars & Driving
Operators of cars and other vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road in Canada. Speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour and enforced by the police. If you are caught travelling above the speed limits, you will be given a speeding ticket that will cost money and may affect your driving record.
There are strict laws governing driving in Canada. Here are some examples:
- All drivers and passengers must use seatbelts at all times.
- Children must be strapped into a government-approved child safety seat.
- Driving while drunk can result in severe penalties and loss of a driver's licence.
- Vehicles travelling in both directions on a road or highway are required to stop or yield to school buses with flashing red lights.
- Speeding in construction zones can result in steep fines.
In Kingston, drivers are not permitted to idle their vehicles for more than three minutes anywhere in the city or face a possible fine. Drivers are permitted to idle for five minutes when the temperature is below 5 Celsius (41 Fahrenheit).
Children under the age of eight who weigh under 36 kilograms (80 pounds) and are below 145 centimetres (4 feet, 9 inches) in height must be strapped into a child safety seat in a moving vehicle. See the Transporting Children section for more information on this subject.
You must have insurance to drive a vehicle in Ontario. The cost of insurance varies from one company to another and is determined by a driver's age, driving record and the type of vehicle. Driving without insurance is a serious offence in Ontario and can result in a substantial fine.
To apply for a driver's licence, you must be at least 16 years old. You must also pass an eyesight test and a written test.
New drivers are licensed through a process called Graduated Licensing. Under the system, new drivers have up to five years to complete two steps before they are fully licensed to drive in Ontario.
When you apply for a licence, you will be asked to show a number of official documents such as your passport or Permanent Resident Card. New drivers are tested at a Driver Examination Centre.
Driver's licences are renewed every five years up to the age of 80. After the age of 80, drivers are required to renew their licence every two years. They must also take a vision test, a written test of traffic rules and signs, and participate in a group education session.
NOTE: Newcomers who have a valid driver's licence are allowed to drive in Ontario for up to 60 days, but must apply for a driver's licence within that period. If you have two years or more of driving experience, you may get an Ontario licence faster.
Licence Plates & Validation Stickers
Every vehicle must be registered before the owner is issued Ontario licence plates. Vehicle registration is done at a Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office. When you register a vehicle, you will be required to provide proof that it is insured.
Licence plates are renewed regularly by a validation sticker attached to the upper right-hand corner of the licence plate. Owners of vehicles are mailed a renewal application approximately 60 days before the sticker expires, usually on their birthdate. Some vehicles will be required to undergo an emissions test (see Drive Clean below) before receiving a new validation sticker.
If you have a car from another country or province, you have 30 days to register it in Ontario.
Vehicles in Ontario are regularly tested for emission problems as part of a government program called Drive Clean. The program aims to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The emissions test is required to renew a vehicle licence plate. It is the responsibility of vehicle owners to repair any problems that are identified by the test.
You can find out if your vehicle needs to pass an emissions test by contacting the Drive Clean Call Centre (see For More Information links below).
Parking & Parking Tickets
If you own a car or other vehicle you will have to pay to park it in certain areas of the city. There are parking meters — called Pay & Display — on streets throughout the city and in the downtown where you can deposit coins to purchase a block of parking time.
The city has a number of parking garages and parking lots that can be used for short- and long-term parking. The city sells monthly parking permits at a number of garages and lots. Parking is free in some areas of the city such as large shopping malls.
Parking in residential areas is also subject to certain restrictions. The city prohibits on-street parking during the winter months to make it easier for snow removal crews to clear the streets. There are also many No Parking zones in the city that are marked by signs.
Failure to obey parking rules and regulations can result in a parking ticket. You can pay parking fines online, by phone or in person at City Hall.
NOTE: People who have certain physical or health conditions may apply for an Accessible Parking Permit. The permits allow individuals to park in designated accessible parking spaces.
For More Information
The city encourages bicycling as a healthy and inexpensive form of transportation. Includes links to information about bike racks, bicycle trails, protective helmets, hand signals and the rules of the road.
An overview of driver’s licence regulations in Canada with links to licensing agencies in the 10 provinces and three territories. Includes sections on foreign licences, international driving permits, driving lessons and insurance.
An introduction to driving in Ontario, the graduated licensing system, types of driver licences, exchanging foreign licences, driver education and road tests.
An explanation of the two-step licensing system for new drivers in Ontario. Available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.
What does an Ontario driver’s licence look like, types of licences, how to apply for a licence and where to get more information. Available in Arabic, Chinese (simplified), French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.
A step-by-step guide to renewing a driver’s licence after the age of 80. Includes information about vision tests, written tests and group education sessions.
A guide to understanding auto insurance in Ontario, what to do after an accident, how to shop for auto insurance, and insurance requirements for other motorized vehicles such as motorcycles and snowmobiles.
Information about licensing a vehicle, renewing plates, replacing plates, permits or validation stickers and other related topics.
Information about who qualifies for an Accessible Parking Permit and how to apply or replace one.
Information about road and vehicle safety in Canada, including winter and summer driving tips, the hazards of messy cars, and tire safety.
Covers such areas as driver safety, vehicle safety, motorcycle safety, winter driving, cyclists and pedestrians, seat belts, car seats, air bags, school buses and emergency vehicles.
A mandatory vehicle emissions inspection program requiring owners of vehicles to fix any emissions problems. Includes an online tool that allows vehicle owners to learn the date of their next emissions test.
A guide to parking in Kingston, including metered parking, pay & display, garages and lots and parking in residential areas.
How to pay parking tickets online, by phone and in person.
An explanation of accessible parking spaces in Kingston, how to obtain a permit, and fines for improper parking in an accessible space. Includes link to downloadable accessible parking map.
Parking is not permitted on any city street from December 1 to March 31 between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. Winter parking regulations are among a number of parking rules listed.
The public health department and the City of Kingston encourage walking, biking, taking public transit, or any other physical means as an alternative to using a car.
Information and tips on preparing your car for winter and what special precautions to take when driving. Includes a number of instructional videos.
Use this online tool to enrol to receive email notifications for renewing your driver's licence and vehicle licence plate information.