P.E.I. makes it easier for Ukrainian newcomers to get driver's licence

·3 min read
Nadia Pivovarova was studying for her driver's test before the province announced that newcomers with a full-stage Ukrainian Category B passenger vehicle licence will be able to get their P.E.I. Class 5 without having to write an exam or take a road test. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)
Nadia Pivovarova was studying for her driver's test before the province announced that newcomers with a full-stage Ukrainian Category B passenger vehicle licence will be able to get their P.E.I. Class 5 without having to write an exam or take a road test. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)

Ukrainian newcomers to P.E.I. will now be able to get their driver's licence faster.

The province announced Thursday that starting next week, newcomers with a full-stage Ukrainian Category B passenger vehicle licence will be able to get their P.E.I. Class 5 without having to write an exam or take a road test.

Commercial or motorcycle licences aren't eligible. And those who want the P.E.I. licence must provide their valid driver's licence or a translated copy in English and French, as well as two documents that show their address.

For Nadia Pivovarova, the announcement is a welcome relief. She arrived from Kyiv with two children and her dog in April, and her four-month period where new residents and visitors are allowed to drive with their original licence was about to expire on Aug.15.

"I need to pass exam the first of September, and I prepared and studied test. And of course I was very happy because [I have the] opportunity to change my licence," she said.

"It save my time, it save my feelings, my nerves. And I think especially for people for example who have little children it's good. It's like present."

Equivalent licences

Reciprocal licence agreements such as this one are available to a handful of countries, including the U.K., South Korea and Taiwan.

"Our systems and how we do driver testing, driver licence, driver records, is very similar," said Graham Miner, director of P.E.I.'s Highway Safety Division.

"So person who is trained in Ukraine who holds an equivalent of our Class 5 is very similar to a driver that's trained in this country."

Miner said that P.E.I.'s decision was based on the work by members of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators in other jurisdictions in the country, including an in-depth analysis of Ukrainian driver requirements.

Some of that work was impacted when Ukraine's digital licence system was temporarily shut down over privacy concerns at the beginning of the war with Russia, he said.

"We are pleased we can do this," Miner said. "I have no idea what it would be like to leave where I live and move to another country, and have all those worries for family left behind and what's happening in my country. So if this is one less stressor, that is a good thing."

One less worry

In a statement, P.E.I.'s Immigrant & Refugee Service Association welcomed the announcement, adding that obtaining a driver's licence is one of the first steps of settling in P.E.I., and that having one "broadens the options" when looking for employment and housing.

Pivovarova said she can't afford to buy a car, but she'll need one in the future.

She currently lives in Cornwall, and she said she can't do stuff like take evening English lessons in Charlottetown unless she takes a taxi because bus service is limited.

Pivovarova said that although studying for the driver's test was very useful, it's good to have one less thing to worry about. She said that when you're in a country where everything is familiar, getting a driver's licence is not a big deal ...

"But when you're blind kitten in the river and you can't make orientation, it's one of the things which support and give you maybe [assurance]," she said.