All drivers in British Columbia must have a valid (legal) driver’s licence. If you are a new B.C. resident, and have a valid driver’s licence from your country or from another province of Canada, you can use your licence for 90 days. You must apply for a B.C. licence within 90 days.
If you are a visitor, you can drive in B.C. for up to 6 months with a valid driver’s licence from your country. If you hold an International Driving Permit, you must also carry the accompanying foreign licence.
If you have a licence from the United States, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea or another province of Canada, you may not need to take the knowledge test or road test. You can apply for a B.C. licence right away.
If your driver’s licence is from anywhere else, you will need to take a knowledge test and a road test. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) driver licensing offices have free books you can study for the knowledge test. They are in English only.
Driving in B.C.
In Canada, people drive on the right side of the road.
You must have a driver’s licence, a vehicle licence and insurance to drive in B.C.
You must respect the rights of cyclists and pedestrians (people walking), and stop for pedestrians crossing the street.
You must not leave young children alone in a car.
Applying for a driver’s licence
In B.C. you need different types of licences to drive a motorcycle, bus, large truck or taxi.
To apply for a B.C. driver’s licence, you must be 16 years old or older. If you are under 19 years old, a parent or guardian (someone who is responsible for you) must sign the application.
You can apply for a driver’s licence at an ICBC driver licensing office. You will need to take two pieces of identification (ID).
ID in B.C. is getting an upgrade.
The new BC Services Card will provide secure access to provincial government services. Starting February 15, 2013, new cards will be issued with the goal of eventually replacing all existing CareCards, Driver’s Licences and B.C. ID.
To get a driver’s licence you must know the driving rules in British Columbia. Ask for the free RoadSense for Drivers guide. This booklet has information about learning to drive, B.C.’s traffic laws, the rules of the road and safe driving. You can get it from any ICBC driver licensing office or from the ICBC website.
After you have studied the booklet, you must take a knowledge test. The test is on a computer. You must answer at least 40 out of 50 questions correctly to pass. The ICBC website has practice questions in English, so you can practice before you take the test.
You will also have a vision test. If you use glasses, wear them to take the vision test.
Knowledge tests are available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, English, Farsi (Persian), French, Punjabi, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese. If you need a translator, check with the ICBC driver licensing office.
Driving schools can help you learn to drive. You may be able to find a teacher who speaks your language.
Graduated Licensing Program
If you have never had a driver’s licence before, you will have to go through B.C.’s Graduated Licensing Program.
If you have had a driver’s licence for at least two years, you may not need to go through the Graduated Licensing Program. You must bring original documents to show how long you have been driving.
When you pass the knowledge and vision tests, you will get a learner’s licence, which is good for two years and has certain restrictions.
You can practise driving with this licence, but you must always have someone 25 years old (or older), who has a full privilege driver’s licence, sitting next to you. Your car must
If you have never had a driver’s licence, you may want to take driving lessons or an ICBC-approved course from a driving school.
You may take the road test 12 months after getting your learner’s licence.
When you pass the road test at the end of the Learner stage, your car must have an "N" sign (for novice) on it for 24 months.
You can have only one passenger with you-unless there is a licensed driver 25 years or older beside you or the passengers are close family members (parents, spouse, brother or sister).
You must not drive after consuming any alcohol.
After 24 months of the novice stage, you can then take a second road test and get a full-privilege licence.
During the road test, an ICBC driver examiner will come with you to test how safely you drive. If you pass the road test, you will get a B.C. driver’s licence. If you fail the test, you will need to practice more. Ask when you can take the test again.
There are fees for the knowledge test, road test and driver’s licence.
Registration and Insurance
You must not drive a car without insurance. Every car in B.C. must have basic Autoplan insurance. Basic insurance pays for the damage to someone else’s car if you cause a crash. It also pays costs for anyone hurt in the crash. You buy this insurance from ICBC.
Many things affect the cost of your car insurance – for example, where you live, the type of car you have, if you use your car for work or just for pleasure and your driving record.
If you were a safe driver in your country, you can ask your insurance company in that country to write a letter about your insurance claims record. This must be a notarized (official) letter in English. Take the letter with you when you buy your insurance. You may get a safe driving discount.