Getting a driver's license-BC

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  • The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) administers driver licensing. See their website here.

  • A visitor can drive in BC on a foreign or out of province license for up to six months. A new resident to the province must obtain a British Columbia driver's license within 90 days of their arrival if they wish to continue to drive in BC.

  • The first step is to take your UK license and identification to a driver services centre. Your details will be entered into ICBC’s system. If you have held your UK license for less than two years you will be required to enter the graduated licensing program. For expats with two or more year’s full driving experience you can exchange your passenger vehicle and motorbike license for the BC equivalent on passing a sight test, answering a few simple theory questions and paying the appropriate fee.
  • Holders of driver's licenses issued by jurisdictions that do not have an exchange agreement with BC (e.g. Channel Islands, Isle of Man) are required to also pass a knowledge and road test. Once you are in the system you are eligible for the knowledge test. The knowledge tests are based on the ICBC booklet Learn to Drive Smart. This is the BC version of the Highway Code. The booklet is available at the driver service centre or can be downloaded. There are two separate tests. One is traffic safety awareness and the second is for road signs. These tests are automated and are taken on a touch screen. The cost is $15.00. You need an 80% or better mark in each to pass. On the ICBC website there is a practice Online practical knowledge test which you can take as many times as you wish prior to taking the actual test.
  • You will also need to have a vision test. There is no charge for this test and it can be taken at the same time as the knowledge tests.
  • The road tests are by appointment. There can be a waiting list for these appointments so it is best to book as soon as you have passed the knowledge tests. If you are in a hurry you can ask for any cancellations. The fee for the road test is $50.00
  • In the opinion of the author the BC road tests are a little easier than the UK test. Particular attention is paid to safe driving such as stopping at the correct position at road junctions, shoulder checking when maneuvering, and observation of speed limits. Details of the test are on ICBC’s website here

  • Two suggestions are:
  • 1 Take the test in a car with automatic transmission. There are no restrictions on the type of vehicle transmission you can drive once you have passed the test, and there are a lot less things for the examiner to fail you on.
  • 2 Even if you are a competent and confident driver consider taking one or two lessons beforehand. The instructor can take you round a likely test route and point out what the examiner will be looking for, and any bad habits you have.

  • If you fail your driving test the examiner will retain your UK license and you will be issued with a provisional BC license. You will need to make another appointment for a road test.
  • Assuming you pass, you will be charged a further $31.00 for a two year driver's license. You will have your photo taken and issued with a temporary paper license. Your UK license will be returned. The actual plastic BC license will arrive in the mail in a week to ten days.