Interested in becoming a truck driver in Quebec? If you want the most job options driving you are going to want get your class 1 license in Quebec. In this summary we will go over:
- What is a Class 1 licence in Quebec
- Air Brake (F) Endorsement and Other Endorsements
- 6 Easy Steps to Get your Class 1 Licence in Quebec
- Class 1 Licence Costs in Quebec
- Contacts, Forms and Resources
Let’s show you how to get your Class 1 licence in Quebec in 6 Easy Steps. First, let’s go over the basics.
What is a Class 1 Licence in Quebec?
A Class 1 licence in Quebec is a driver’s licence that allows you to drive almost any motor vehicle or combination of vehicles other than a motorcycle. In Quebec, a Class 1 licence is often referred to a heavy vehicle driver’s licence, as well as Classes 2 & 3.
What kind of vehicles can you drive with a Class 1 Licence?
With your Class 1 licence in Quebec you can drive almost any type of vehicle:
- a road tractor with 2 axles and a net weight of 4,500 kg or more, hauling one or more trailers or semi-trailers
- a road tractor with three axles or more hauling one or more trailers or semi-trailers
- a truck covered by Class 3 hauling a trailer or semi-trailer whose net weight is 4,500 kg or more and which is only used to transport equipment, tools or furnishings as part of its permanent equipment
- a truck covered by Class 3 hauling any trailer or semi-trailer other than those described above and whose net weight is 2,000 kg or more
In other words, a number of large trucks that are typically referred to as referred to as semi-trucks, semi-trailers, 18-wheelers, truck tractors or tractor trailers.
You can also drive:
- emergency vehicles
- transit buses
- motor coaches
- vehicles transporting dangerous goods
- tow trucks
You can’t drive a taxi though unless you get a permit and a school bus license requires additional training.
What is the difference between a Class 1 and a Class 3 license in Quebec?
A Class 1 license in Quebec let’s you drive your standard big rig, a truck with a large trailer attached to it.
A Class 3 license is more for lighter, single vehicles with 3 axles, like a dump truck or large fixed box truck. They typically have one axle in the front and two in the rear. There are also some heavy two axle vehicles that required a Class 3 license. With a Class 1, you can drive them all, providing you have the correct endorsements too.
The biggest difference between a Class 1 and a Class 3 license in Quebec is the weight and the number of axles of the vehicles you are allowed to drive.. A Class 3 let’s you drive a 2 axle truck that weighs more than 4,500 kg. You can also drive a 3 axle truck that weighs up to 4,500 kg with some exceptions.
If you are interested in driving large trucks, particularly with trailers, chances are you want to get a Class 1 license. It is a bit tougher than getting your Class 3 license but expands your career options because you drive just about anything.
Interested in getting your Class 3 license instead? You can find out all the different types of vehicles you can drive and what the requirements are with our guide to Getting your Quebec Class 3 License in 6 Easy Steps.
Air Brakes (F) and Other Endorsements
Endorsements in Quebec are letters that go beside your class of license. There are many types of endorsements, usually relating to a restriction placed on your license. Others grant extra privileges to drivers. You usually need to complete special courses in order to obtain these endorsements.
What Kind of Endorsements can you get in Quebec?
In Quebec, the relevant endorsements to truck driving are:
- “F” – Air Brakes
- “M” – Manual Transmission
- “T’ – Road Train
“F” – Air Brakes Endorsement
The F endorsement in Quebec permits you to drive a heavy vehicle with air brakes. The air brakes are often equipped to the tractor and often the trailer too.This is one of two endorsements you should have in order to get your Class 1 license in Quebec.
“M” – Manual Transmission Endorsement
The M endorsement allows you to drive a heavy vehicle with a manual transmission. Although some trucks now come with automatic transmissions, this won’t cut it to drive most big rigs. You should know how to operate a stick shift and get your M endorsement when obtaining your Class 1 license.
“T” – Road Train Endorsement
This endorsement is for experienced drivers only and no, you don’t get to drive a train on the road! This is to allow you to operate a long heavy vehicle, typically a tractor with two trailers attached to it. You actually need special permits to operate these types of vehicles on Quebec roadways.
You must have your Class 1 license for at least 5 years before you can get a T endorsement. You then have to pass a two-day training program in one of the transport training centres in either Charlesbourg or Saint-Jérôme. You can find the contact information for these centres in our contact section.
6 Steps to Get your Class 1 License in Quebec:
We have broken the whole process down into 6 easy steps so you can get an overview of how you can obtain your Class 1 License in Quebec:
- Step 1: Ensure you meet the minimum requirements
- Step 2: Complete the vision test and medical exam
- Step 3: Take the knowledge tests
- Step 4: Begin your on the road training
- Step 5: Complete your road tests
- Step 6: Exchange your license
Step 1: Minimum Requirements
The minimum learning or licensing age is 19 years old for a Class 1 license in Quebec. Sort of.
There is technically no minimum age to get your Class 1 license in Quebec. The earliest age you can get a learners license for your standard automobile (Class 5) is 16 years old. You then must wait a 1 year to get your probationary license. This brings you to 17 years old though you would likely be older given there would be some time in between scheduling your tests.
After obtaining your probationary license you have to wait 24 – 36 months before you can get a heavy vehicle driver’s license. This is effectively bringing the minimum age to get your Class 1 license closer to 20 years old in Quebec practically speaking. The requirements to apply for your Class 1 license are:
- You must have 36 months of experience as a holder of a Class 5 (automobile) driver’s license or probationary license
- You must have 24 months of experience as a holder of a Class 5 (automobile) driver’s license or probationary license if you have:
- completed training leading to a Diploma of Vocational Studies (“DEP”) in truck transportation issued by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur. You can find a school that offers the DEP school in our resource section below.
- completed 300 hours of driving a Class 1 vehicle on public roads AND at least 40 hours of driving with a driving school.
The other minimum requirements to get your Class 1 driver’s license are:
- You can not have more than 4 demerit points on your license
- Your driver’s license must not have been suspended or revoked in the previous 2 years as a result of an accumulation of demerit points or a driving-related Criminal Code offence
Step 2: Vision Test and Medical Exam
Before the on-the-road training and tests begin, you need to make sure you are in good shape to drive a heavy vehicle. This all starts with a vision test.
You will need to find a Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (“SAAQ”) service centre to get a vision test done. See our resources section to locate a service outlet near you. You will also sign a Declaration regarding your health status, so if you have any medical conditions that could impair your ability to drive you need to disclose them at that time.
While you are there, you can obtain a medical examination form that you need to give to your doctor to fill out. If you lose it or they didn’t give you one, we have included it in our forms section. You will have to get an examination by your doctor to confirm your hearing, vision, general health and mental state are all in good enough shape to drive a big rig. Your doctor will complete this examination and the form, which you will then mail back or drop off an SAAQ service outlet. Your doctor will most likely charge you a fee for this service.
Step 3: Class 1 License Knowledge Test
In order to get your Class 1 license in Quebec, like any other license type, you need to pass a knowledge test. You must book the test at a SAAQ Service Outlet which you can do online or by the phone. Find the link to book online in our resource section and the contact numbers to book by phone in our contact section.
The test is 32 multiple choice questions and the passing mark is 75%. You have 1 hour to take the test. If you fail the test, you can re-take it after 7 days. You will have to book another appointment and pay the fee again.
The questions test your understanding and knowledge of:
- traffic rules and the skills required to handle a heavy vehicle
- vehicle circle check standards
- the standards for hours of driving and off-duty time
- safe driving behaviours to adopt
To study for the test, you should review the Driver’s Handbook and the Driving a Heavy Vehicle Handbook. As you can drive many different types of vehicles with a Class 1 license, you need to study all the sections. You can order physical copies of these books or online PDF versions by visiting the Publications Quebec online store.
Make sure you bring your current driver’s license to the appointment to take the test.
Air Brake (F) Endorsement Knowledge Test
When you book your Class 1 license knowledge test you should also indicate that you wish to take your air brake (F) endorsement knowledge test. As discussed, most Class 1 vehicles and trailers are equipped with air brakes so we strongly recommend you obtain your F endorsement. The F endorsement knowledge test is specific to the operation of air brakes. All the information you need is found in the same Driving a Heavy Vehicle Handbook that you will review for your Class 1 knowledge test from the Publications Quebec online store.
You can take the air brake endorsement test at the same time as your Class 1 knowledge test for no additional charge. If you decide you want to wait to take your F endorsement knowledge test, they will charge you the test cost of $11.20 again. They are separate tests so if you fail one it doesn’t mean you fail both. We have broken down all the costs for a Class 1 license below.
Step 4: Schools & Training
You don’t actually have to go to a school or take a training course in order to get your Class 1 license. Perhaps a family member or friend will help you learn. You can learn to drive with them if they have held their Class 1 license for at least 2 years.
If you have 36 months of driving experience with your Class 5 you can move on to Step 5 without doing any professional practical training. If you have never driven a truck before though, you will almost certainly not pass the road test. You should sign up for some driving lessons or a truck driving school to get some experience behind the wheel before going for your road tests.
There are two options to get experience behind the wheel which will also allow you to get your Class 1 license 1 year faster. You only need to have had your Class 5 license for 24 months before going for your road tests if you proceed with some practical training. You will also be better prepared and safer.
Diploma of Vocational Studies (“DEP”) in Truck Transportation
One way you can get the training you need is by attending a school that offers a Diploma of Vocational Studies in Truck Transportation. This route is great because training is subsidized by the government if you were born in Quebec. It can literally cost under $200 for the whole thing!
There are some other circumstances for French speaking residents and newcomers from other provinces or internationally to qualify for free training but if you are not originally from Quebec it can be anywhere from $1,500-$23,000! We recommend calling a couple schools to get a price for your individual situation, i.e. place of birth, residency status, language of instruction, etc. It is worth a shot it to try to get free or subsidized training. If you don’t qualify for the subsidy, we think you are better off waiting the 36 months and sign up for a non-diploma driving course in the meantime to get some experience.
The program can often be done as a full-time day or evening course in French or English. The course is 615 hours in length and lasts approximately 4-8 months, depending on whether you are attending full time or part-time.
About the DEP Truck Transportation Course
The DEP covers many areas of topics including:
- Basic Driving Techniques
- Trip planning
- Cargo securement
- Rural and highway driving
- Integration into the workplace
- Truck maintenance
- Industry Regulations
There is a fair amount of class time involved with the Diploma but tons of driving too. By the end of the program, you will be prepared to do your Class 1 license road test, as well as your F & M endorsement road tests.
In the end, it is at least a 4-5 month commitment and some people just may not be interested in this style of learning. If you want to get on the road faster and spend most of the time in the truck driving then you are going want to seek out a driving school or lessons.
Truck Driving Lessons, Courses or School
You don’t need to get an actual government issued Diploma and go through the in-depth education program as outlined above to get your Class 1 license in Quebec. If you haven’t held your Class 5 license for more than 36 months you can also be eligible for your Class 1 if you complete 300 hours of driving a Class 1 vehicle on public roads and complete 40 hours of driving with a driving school. It is still no small task but at least you will spend most of your time on the road. The on-the-road driving can sometimes be done as a professional internship.
Most courses will prepare you for your Class 1 license road test as well as your F & M endorsement road tests. You should be able to complete the course in about half the time as going the Diploma route. It will be a bit more expensive though because it isn’t subsidized by the government.
Air brakes (air to all foundation brakes):
A vehicle with an air brake system has brakes that are initiated by air pressure from an engine-driven compressor. This sends air pressure through a series of hoses, reservoirs and control valves to all the vehicle’s foundation brakes.
Get Experienced Before The Test!
As a reminder, if you have held your Class 5 license for 36 months you DO NOT need any professional training or courses before attempting your road test. If you want to get some experience though, you can sign up for driving lessons to learn how to operate air brakes, manual transmissions and general driving skills required for a Class 1 vehicle.
If you don’t have any experience behind the wheel, you should take some training before attempting your road test. Another nice thing about signing up for some lessons or a course is that many places will let you use the truck you have been practicing with for your road test as part of the package. You must provide your own vehicle for the road test as we will go over below.
Step 5: Class 1 Road Tests
Depending on how you arrived at this step, the minimum requirements are a little different. Before you can take your road test, you must have held your Class 1 learner’s license for:
- 3 months
- 1 month if you meet any of the following criteria
- registered in the truck driving training program which leads to the Diploma of Vocational Studies
issued by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur and successfully
completed all mandatory sections of the program required to drive on the road without an
accompanying rider; or
- 25 years old or older; or
- have 60 months (5 years) cumulative experience as a holder of a Class 5 license; or
- already have a Class 2 or 3 driver’s license
- registered in the truck driving training program which leads to the Diploma of Vocational Studies
Book Your Test
To book your road tests, you need to schedule them by contacting an SAAQ Service Outlet which you can do online or by the phone. Find the link to book online in our resource section and the contact numbers to book by phone in our contact section.
Circle Check Test
The road test starts with a pre-trip inspection, also know as a circle check test. You must pass this to move on to the road test. The passing mark is 75%.
This test covers the mechanical components that all drivers must inspect when carrying out a circle check before using a heavy vehicle.
During the 20-minute test, you must describe everything you are doing, as well as the defects you are looking for to your examiner. You must carry out your inspection safely and efficiently.
Heavy Vehicle Road Tests: Class 1, F & M Endorsements
Given you can get a Class 2 or 3 for to drive a bus (depending on the bus type and number of passengers) we are assuming you are going for your Class 1 because you want to be a transport truck driver. This means you need to bring a truck and trailer to the test.
If you plan on getting your manual transmission (M) endorsement and your air brakes (F) endorsement then of course the vehicle must have a manual transmission and be equipped with air brakes, including the trailer. As discussed, you should get these endorsements because most trucks you drive will have a manual transmission and are equipped with air brakes. Even if you have a job lined up where the truck doesn’t, you will expand your career options and the number of vehicles you can drive with these endorsements.
The vehicle you provide needs to be free from mechanical issues and have an up to date mechanical inspection certificate. You likely do not have a vehicle of your own yet so you might need to borrower one from a family member of friend in the industry. You may also be able to rent one from the school you attended or they could refer you to a place that rents them for the test. Many schools allow you to use a truck for the test as part of their training package.
Your Class 1 license heavy vehicle road test will cover common “on- and off-highway“ manoeuvres, traffic rules and defensive driving skills. The examiner will look to assess:
- your driving skills in regard to commonly executed manoeuvres;
- your observance of traffic rules and use of approved driving techniques;
- your general driving behaviour;
- your ability to execute the double-clutch technique if you are driving a vehicle with a manual transmission (which you should be)
Remember you must have completed your knowledge test for the air brake (F) endorsement prior to getting assessed on a road test. There is no knowledge test requirement for the manual transmission (M) endorsement.
You must get a 75% to pass the road test, for each component. Given you are getting your F and M endorsements, you need to get 75% on which are done at the same time as your general Class 1 road test. If you fail one of them, you can pay the fee and redo the Class 1 road test or the specific endorsement road test you failed.
Step 6: Exchange your license
Now that you passed the road test, you are almost there finished! Go get a new picture taken and have the SAAQ office add Class 1, F & M to your license so you can show it off your future employer to prove you have what it takes. Now go out there and start driving!
Class 1 License in Quebec: Cost
So now you know what the process looks like but how much does it cost to get your Class 1 license in Quebec? There will be a number of fees, some ranging in price depending on the school you choose for training, medical examinations and truck rentals. Some prices like the knowledge and road tests are set by the government.
The below costs are assuming you wait until you have your Class 5 license for 36 months and want to do some training to get experience driving a truck before doing your road test. More details are available below for other circumstances.
Class 1 License in Quebec
Air Brake (F) & Manual (M) Endorsement Course $0 (typically included in Class 1 Training)
Medical Examination & Report $55
Air Brake (F) Endorsement Knowledge Test $0 (if written at the same time as Class 1 knowledge test)
Class 1 Training $1,600 (approximately)
Class 1 Knowledge Test $11.20
Class 1 Learner’s License $58.64
Class 1 Road Test $66.95
Truck Rental $0 (typically included in your Class 1 course)
License Reclassification $15.40
Costs in summary
- Air Brake (F) Endorsement Written Knowledge Test: $0 or $11.20 if you didn’t write it at the same time as your Class 1 knowledge test.
- Medical Examination & Report: $40 – $70 approximately. Rates are set by your doctor.
- Class 1 License Written Knowledge Test: $11.20
- Class 1 Learner’s License: $58.64
- Class 1 Training (optional): Schools and courses can range anywhere from 20 hours total for as low as $700 all the way up to 160 hours total for around $5,200. We looked at a number of schools and found you could get all this for around $1,600 with about 60 hours experience total.
- For a diploma course, the cost could be as low as $200 depending on your status as a resident of Quebec. For everyone else, it can range from $1,500 to $23,000.
- Class 1 License Road Test: $11.20 for the Circle Test and $55.75 for the Driving Test
- Truck Rental Fee for Road Test: $500 approximately or included with a course at a driving school
- Adding the Class 1 & Endorsements to your Driver’s License: $15.40
The average cost to get your Class 1 license in Quebec is $1,807.19 for an inexperienced driver not attending a diploma program and who has had their Class 5 license for more than 36 months.
Here are some important contacts that will assist you in getting your Class 1 license in Quebec
Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ)
This is the government agency the manages and regulates transportation Quebec. You will go here to do:
- a vision test
- the knowledge tests
- the road tests
- Québec area: 418-643-7620
- Montréal area: 514-873-7620
- Elsewhere (Québec, Canada, United States): 1-800-361-7620
Hours of Operation
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Booking Knowledge & Road Tests
Automated telephone service
Québec area: 418 643-5213
Montréal area: 514 873-5803
Elsewhere in Québec: 1 888 667-8687
Schools for a DEP in Truck Transportation
Note: All the websites listed below are in French only.
700, rue de l’Argon
Québec (Québec) G2N 2G5
Telephone: 418 634-5580
17000, rue Aubin
Mirabel (Québec) J7J 1B1
Telephone: 450 435-0167
Toll free: 1 877 435-0167
2220, rue Louis-Allyson
Trois-Rivières (Québec) G8Z 4P3
Telephone: 819 379-9209
2150, rue André-C.-Hamel
Drummondville (Québec) J2C 8B1
Telephone: 1 888 472-9209
12305, boulevard Métropolitain Est
Montréal (Québec) H1B 5R3
Telephone: 514 640-1666
1263, rue Volta
Boucherville (Québec) J4B 7M7
Telephone: 450 641-2626