Driving in B.C.

Driving in B.C., as in most places, is a privilege that comes with responsibilities.

  • You must have a valid driver’s licence.
  • The vehicle you are driving must be licenced and insured.
  • You must know and follow the rules of the road.

Driving in B.C.

  • In Canada, people drive on the right side of the road.
  • You must respect the rights of cyclists and pedestrians (people walking). You must stop for pedestrians crossing the street.
  • You must respect the rights of other drivers.
  • You must not leave young children alone in a car.
  • You may not drive while under the influence of any substance, such as alcohol or drugs, which limit your ability to control your vehicle.
  • You must pay attention to traffic and road conditions.
  • You may not use a cellphone unless it is a hands-free device.

Your Driver’s Licence

You must have a valid licence to drive in B.C.

  • If you are a new B.C. resident, and have a valid driver’s licence from another country or province, 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 six months with a valid driver’s licence from your country. If you have an International Driving Permit, you must also carry the accompanying foreign licence.
  • If you have a licence another province of Canada or certain other countries, you can apply for a B.C. licence. You don’t have to take a test to qualify.
  • If your driver’s licence is from anywhere else, you will need to take a knowledge test and a road test. Get the free guide, Learn to Drive Smart, online in English or French, or in English only from driver licensing offices.

The Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) issues driver’s licences. Get more information from ICBC.

Driving schools can help you learn to drive and prepare for the tests. You may be able to get a teacher who speaks your language.

Applying for a Driver’s Licence

In B.C., you need different types of licences to drive a car, 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 a driver licensing office. You will need to take two pieces of identification (ID).

Learn all about applying for a driver’s license.

Graduated Licensing

Under B.C.’s Graduated Licensing Program, new drivers pass through two stages before they get a full licence.

Learner stage

When you pass the knowledge and vision tests, you will get a learner’s licence.

  • This licence allows you to practice driving before you take the road test.
  • You may drive only with a fully-licensed driver 25 or more years old beside you.
  • Several other restrictions limit your driving rights.

Novice stage

When you pass the road test at the end of the Learner stage, you get a novice licence and can drive on your own.

  • For the first 24 months, you may have only one passenger unless:
    • there is a licensed driver 25 years or older beside you or
    • your passengers are close family members
  • Several other restrictions limit your driving rights.
  • After 24 months with a novice licence, you can take a second road test and get a full-privilege licence.

If you have had a driver’s licence for at least two years, you may not need to go through the Graduated Licensing Program. When you apply for your B.C. licence, bring original documents to prove how long you have been driving.

Driver’s Tests

To get a driver’s licence, you must know British Columbia’s driving rules. Get the free guide, Learn to Drive Smart, online in English or French, or in English only from driver licensing offices.

  • After you have studied the booklet, you must take a knowledge test on a computer.
  • You will also have a vision test when you take the knowledge test. If you use glasses, wear them to take the vision test.
  • A year after you pass the knowledge test, you can take the road tests.
    • You’ll drive in your vehicle with an ICBC driver examiner to see how safely you drive.
  • If you pass the first road test, you’ll receive a licence to drive:
    • First you receive your novice licence with certain restrictions.
    • After 24 months with a novice licence, you can take a second road test to get a full licence.
  • If you fail a test, you can practice and take the test again.
  • There are fees for the knowledge test, road test and driver’s licence.

Get detailed information from ICBC’s information for new drivers.

Registration and Insurance

Every car you drive in B.C. must have basic Autoplan insurance. Basic insurance pays for the damage caused to others by a crash. It also pays costs for anyone injured. You buy this insurance from the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC).

You can buy additional insurance from ICBC or from private insurers.

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 had no insurance claims before moving to B.C., you can get a discount on your Autoplan insurance. Ask your insurance company to write a letter about your 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.

Get detailed information from ICBC.