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How to Get an AZ License in Ontario

Written by Stephen Hoenig
In order to be a truck driver anywhere in Canada, you need to get your license. In Ontario, this type of license is called Class AZ. This type of license also includes your air brake endorsement.
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    If you’re considering getting your commercial class AZ license and starting a truck driving career, it can be a great choice. It can be expensive, though. This is why government funding is offered to help cover these costs for new truck drivers. Once you have your license, you can start earning a liveable wage in the trucking industry. This is only one of the reasons people choose to be a truck driver. One of the other reasons is because goods will always need to be transported so many truck drivers are needed.

    Class AZ License and What It Is

    In Ontario, there are many different classes you can get as a driver. You can also get a combination of these different classes. Let’s take a look at what they are. 

    • Class A - Required to drive any tractor-trailer combination (can also get A restricted class)
    • Class B - Needed to drive school buses
    • Class C - Required to drive any bus
    • Class D - Allows you to drive vehicles weighing 11,000 kg; can have a tow that doesn’t exceed $ 600 kg
    • Class E - Needed to drive a school bus carrying passengers up to a max of 24
    • Class F - Needed to drive ambulance and buses up to 24 passengers
    • Class G - This allows you to drive any standard motor vehicle up to 11,00kg (with a towed vehicle). These would be regular transportation vehicles such as cars and trucks. 
    • Class G1 - This is the first level of the graduated licensing program. You’re subject to conditions and need to drive with someone who has at least 4 years of experience.
    • Class G2 - Hold your license and don’t have an accompanying driver. Still have some conditions, though. 
    • Class M - This allows you to drive a motorcycle. 
    • Class M1 - Allowed to drive a motorcycle with some conditions.
    • Class M2 - Allows you to drive a motorcycle but with a zero blood alcohol level. 
    • Class Z endorsement- This is your air brake endorsement and allows you to operate vehicles with air brakes. 

    It’s also important to note that some of these classes overlap for license holders. For example, With a class A, you can also run vehicles that fall in class D as well as a car or a light truck covered under the G class. You can also combine these classes together. You’ll notice that with the class AZ. 

    Most people who hold a class AZ license are long-haul truckers who operate commercial vehicles. For this reason, the class AZ can also be referred to as a commercial AZ license or commercial driver’s license. 

    The types of vehicles that they can run are:

    • Straight trucks
    • Tractor trailers
    • Towed vehicles that have air brakes
    • Tractors that pull double trailers
    • Towed vehicles (total gross weights over 4,600 kg)

    There are many different vehicles included in the class AZ category. Operating lower-class vehicles is also allowed as long as they fall within your license restrictions. These types of vehicles are:

    • Cement trucks
    • Dump trucks
    • Fire and rescue trucks

    There are many more that could fall into this category as well. 

    The Cost to Get Your License

    As we mentioned before, getting your class AZ license can add up quite fast. In total, it can actually cost up to $10,000. How does it equal that much? Well, let’s take a look at everything you need in order to learn how to safely operate vehicles in this class. 

    • Air Brakes Knowledge Test - This is where you start when getting your AZ license. The cost is $16.00
    • Ministry of Transportation Truck Handbook - You’ll need to purchase this book, and the cost is $20
    • Ministry of Transportation Airbrake handbook - You’ll need to purchase this book as well for $20
    • Mandatory Entry-Level Training Course - The cost to take this course can range anywhere from $5,000 - $10,000
    • Medical Examination - The cost of the exam depends on your doctor, but the cost varies between $50 and $150
    • Class A Knowledge Test and Road Test - To take all of your AZ license tests, including air brakes, the cost is equal to around $125
    • 5-year license - Once you pass, you’ll need to purchase the license for $90

    In some cases, it can actually end up costing a lot more. It really just depends on what commercial driver training class you take and where you’re located. 

    Getting Your AZ License for Free

    While it may be difficult to get your class AZ for free, there are ways you can reduce your total cost. In Ontario, there are government grants that are available to help you cover the cost of training programs, as well as other job-related expenses. 

    Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit

    While the Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit is a great way to cover the cost of some of your training expenses, it’s only available to those who did training in 2021 and 2022. It was available to those who were changing careers, needed job training, or just needed to refresh some of their skills. With this credit, you could get up to $2,000 per year for up to 50% of the cost of your expenses. 

    Canada Training Credit

    If you haven’t taken the course yet, so the Ontario Tax Credit doesn’t work for you, then you could be eligible for the Canada Training Credit, also referred to as the CTC. Essentially, this is a refundable tax credit, and it’s available to help with the cost of training fees. In order to qualify, though, you do have to meet some requirements.

    1. You must file your income tax return for the year
    2. Your CTC limit for the year is higher than zero
    3. You were a Canadian resident throughout the year
    4. You’re between the ages of 26 and 66
    5. The fees were paid to an eligible educational institution 
    6. The fees are eligible for the credit

    You can qualify for up to 50% of the cost of your tuition if you’re approved. 

    The OSAP

    Depending on where you take your course, you could be approved for funding from OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program). One of the programs that is covered is The Commercial Driver Training Class G to AZ Tractor Trailer Training Program. The reason for this is that it’s a 7-week program that’s considered to be a micro-credential, and micro-credentials are eligible for OSAP funding. 

    In order to qualify for OSAP funding, you must first pay for the course in full. The few other requirements you need to meet are:

    • You must be an Ontario resident
    • Have an OSAP loan in good standing (if you already have one)

    Once you’ve applied and been approved, then the money will be deposited directly into your bank account. You are able to receive up to $5,000 and an extra $5 per study contract hour. 

    AZ License Requirements

    Now that we’ve discussed a bit about the Ontario AZ license, how can you go about getting one? Well, in order to be eligible for your AZ license, you must:

    • Be at least 18 years old
    • Have a valid Ontario license (G1, G2, M, M1, M2 don’t count)
    • Have a valid medical report
    • Have completed the government-approved training course
    • Have completed and passed a vehicle test
    • Pass your written knowledge test
    • Pass class A road test
    • Have a clean driving record

    After that’s all completed, you’ll then need to take the class AZ road test, which includes air brakes practical testing. This is similar to the class A test, but you’ll need to operate a vehicle that has air brakes. 

    How Long It Takes to Get Your License

    How long it takes to get your license really just depends on what program you take and how long it takes you to book your road test appointment. That said, though, you do need to complete 103.5 hours of mandatory entry-level training in order to successfully complete the course. If you complete everything in a timely manner, you can complete and receive your AZ license in 5 - 8 weeks. However, this is only possible if you’re able to commit to your training full-time. 

    AZ Training Course and What’s Included

    No matter which course you decide to go with in Ontario, the requirements are similar. The general breakdown for the AZ tractor-trailer program includes:

    • 37 classroom hours
    • 12 hours for Z air brake endorsement
    • 17 hours for pre-trip inspections to go over vehicle safety
    • 18 truck hours off the road
    • 32 truck hours on the road

    Once this course is completed along with the knowledge tests, you can take your practical tests. When you’re getting ready to take your written tests, though, there are practice tests you can take to prepare. 

    New Rules for Getting an AZ License

    Before June 1, 2022, whether you took your class A or class A/R using an automatic or manual vehicle didn't matter. Now, the rules have changed slightly, and they’ve implemented a manual transmission restriction. If you complete your practical exam with an automatic transmission vehicle, you won’t be allowed to operate a manual transmission vehicle. The restriction will be added to your driver’s license. However, if you take the exam with a manual transmission vehicle, there will be no restrictions on your driver’s license. 

    How Difficult is it to Get Your AZ License?

    How difficult it is to get your AZ driver's license is subjective. That said, it does take time, money and dedication to complete. Not only do you need to get your class A license, but you also need to test to get your Z endorsement. 

    That said, out of all the licenses, it’s considered the most difficult because having a class A allows you to haul without a haul limit. All of the other trucks carry a load limit, making the AZ test more expensive. Plus, you need to take two road tests. Once to get your class A, then again with the air brake endorsement. 

    Final Thoughts

    As you can see, in order to get your class AZ license in Ontario, it’s a bit of a process. Not only do you have to do all of the requirements for your class A, but you also need to get your class Z endorsement. That said, once you complete the course and get your license, it can open up many opportunities for you in the truck driving industry, especially for long-haul trucking. It pays well, companies are always looking for qualified drivers and goods need to be transported all over the country. Not only that but having your class AZ can also allow you to operate class D and class G vehicles. 

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