Get identification

Once you arrive in British Columbia, you will need to get three pieces of identification.

  • A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number issued by the Government of Canada. You need a Social Insurance Number to work in Canada or to apply for government programs and benefits.
  • A BC Services Card is issued by the Province of British Columbia. You need it to get provincial services, including health care.
  • A B.C. driver’s licence is issued by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. You must have a valid driver’s licence to drive in B.C.

Social Insurance Number

You can apply for a Social Insurance Number when you arrive in Canada. There is no fee for a new Social Insurance Number card, but there is a fee to replace a lost card.

To apply for a Social Insurance Number, visit your local Service Canada office. You may also apply by mail, although this method takes longer.

Parents and legal guardians can apply for a Social Insurance Number for their child. Children 12 years of age or older may apply for their own Social Insurance Number. Parents of a new baby can apply for a Social Insurance Number, a birth certificate and other services with one application.

Learn how to register a birth and apply for a Social Insurance Number through the B.C. Vital Statistics application program.

You will be asked for your Social Insurance Number when you get a job. Your employer will deduct taxes and employment insurance premiums from your pay and send it to the federal government for you. You and your children will need a Social Insurance Number to be able to use some government programs. Do NOT share your Social Insurance Number. It cannot legally be used by anyone else.

Read more about Social Insurance Numbers.

BC Services Card

You need a BC Services Card to access provincial government services. It serves as your health care card, and you can use it when you need photo ID. You can also choose to have your BC Services Card combined with your B.C. driver’s licence, providing you with one convenient card for both purposes.

There is no fee to get a BC Services Card. However, if you’re combining your BC Services Card with your driver’s licence, the fees that apply to the regular driver’s licence renewal still apply.

To receive a BC Services Card, you must be a B.C. resident. Check out the residency requirements.

Apply for a BC Services Card

B.C. 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 from another province of Canada or certain other countries, you can apply for a B.C. licence. You do not 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.

Learn more about driving in B.C.