Immigrating to BC? How to Get Your Driver’s Licence

Have you recently arrived in British Columbia? As a new resident of Canada, you’re able to exchange your international driver’s licence for a B.C. licence within 90 days of your arrival.

Orchestrated by ICBC, our province’s licensing body, the process of exchanging your driver’s licence is typically straightforward. However, there are several steps to follow before you can drive.

To learn how to apply for your new B.C. licence, read this helpful guide prepared by our local driving experts at North Shore Driving School.

Requirements for New Residents

As of September 1, 2019, new B.C. residents only need to hold a valid driver’s licence from their previous country of residence.

Certain groups can continue utilizing their current valid driver’s licence, including:

  • Tourists visiting for less than 6 months
  • Full-time students at designated educational institutions in B.C. that hold valid student exemptions
  • Temporary foreign workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) that hold valid federal work permits. If you’re staying for longer than 12 months, you must apply for a B.C. driver’s licence.

Feeling out of practise? Want to get used to the roads in Canada? Check out our refresher courses!

How to apply

This has to be done in-person at one of the province’s licensing offices. ICBC requires that you bring with you:

  • Valid photo ID
  • Your current driver’s licence
  • The fee for your B.C. licence
  • Proof of previous driving experience

When applying, you must surrender your current license to the ICBC. In B.C., residents are only permitted to have one driver’s licence. If you are required to take a road test and fail, your current license will not be returned to you.

Reciprocal and non-reciprocal licence exchanges

Under B.C. law, there are two types of international driver’s license exchanges, reciprocal and non-reciprocal.

If your current driver’s license is from a country with which B.C. has a reciprocity agreement, you won’t have to take a knowledge or road test, provided you apply for the licence within 90 days of arrival in Canada. Eligible countries include:

  • Austria
  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea (not motorcycles)
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan (not motorcycles)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

However, if your country is not on ICBC’s reciprocal exchange list, you will need to successfully pass both a knowledge test and a road test within 90 days of arriving in Canada. If you want to brush up on your road knowledge and Canadian driving laws, we encourage you to browse our driving school courses or sign up for an in-vehicle lesson to assess your abilities.

Need a driving school in North or West Vancouver?

To familiarize yourself with the rules of B.C.’s roads, sign up for a course at North Shore Driving School, based in North Vancouver. Our driving school’s expert instructors offer one-on-one lessons throughout the Greater Vancouver Area, including West Vancouver, Lions Bay, Deep Cove and Bowen Island. Contact us today to learn moreabout the comprehensive courses we offer to new residents.

5 Tips for Rookie Truck Drivers in BC

Becoming a proficient truck driver requires training and practice.

However, you can get a head start by adhering to these helpful tips.

  1. Stay on track
    A good GPS designed especially for commercial trucks is a must-have. Just don’t make the mistake of buying one designed for cars, which may lead you down roads that are problematic or prohibited to trucks. Make sure you always have a paper map as a back-up and that you know how to read it.
  2. Be careful backing up
    Backing up is one of the biggest challenges for truck drivers, especially rookies. The difficulty is in properly lining up to the loading dock or parking space and staying straight as you back up. When you’re starting out, you’ll want to back up in stages: every 5 feet or so get out of the truck and check that you’re well-aligned.
  3. Don’t rush
    Even if you’re behind schedule, don’t hit the road until you’ve double-checked that all the necessary prep tasks were completed. This includes unhooking air lines and raising or lowering landing gear. Working too fast can lead to costly mistakes.
  4. Look after yourself
    Staying alert at the wheel depends a great deal on factors like sleep and nutrition. Getting seven to eight hours of rest every night is crucial to ensuring peak alertness on the road. Staying well-hydrated is also important. Studies show that it improves one’s focus and reaction times. In addition, it’s important to eat well. Healthy meals and snacks will give you an energy boost, whereas fast food will leave you feeling tired and sluggish.

    Finally, having a regular exercise routine is also key. When not balanced by physical activity, sitting for hours on end can negatively impact your health, detracting not only from your ability to stay alert when driving but also from your overall quality of life.
  5. Get properly trained
    Only get behind the wheel once you feel ready and confident. The best way to prepare yourself for a trucking career is with hands-on training at a reputable truck driving school. In addition to giving you the credentials you need to land a great job, a comprehensive training program will provide you with the skills you need to be a safe and effective driver.

Commercial truck driving school serving Burnaby and Coquitlam

Since 1961,North Shore Driving School has been the premier professional truck driving school in Burnaby. For more information about our courses, contact us today.

Overview of the New Wheel Chain Regulations for B.C. Truck Drivers

Last November, the provincial government introduced more extensive regulations around the mandatory use of chains and other traction devices by commercial vehicles.

These rules came into effect October 1 and truck drivers who fail to comply with them will face stiff fines. In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of the new regulations.

The new rules around wheel chains

Previously, only trucks that weighed more than 27,000 kg were required to carry and use traction devices, and only one wheel needed to be chained during mandatory chain ups. Regulations around traction devices are now more stringent and extend to less heavy vehicles.

  • Commercial vehicles weighing over 11,794 (such as semi-trucks) must carry steel chains on most major highways from October 1 to April 30. During mandatory chain ups, between two to six tires need to be chained up, depending on the vehicle configuration. The installation directions for different vehicle configurations are presented in this infographic from the provincial government.
  • Commercial vehicles weighing between 5,000 kg and 11,794 kg (such as buses or 5-ton trucks) that aren’t equipped with appropriate winter tires must carry chains or other acceptable traction devices (cable chains, automatic tire chains, wheel sanders and textile tire covers) from October 1 to April 30. During mandatory chain ups, if the vehicle doesn’t have winter tires, two of the wheels need to be equipped with traction devices. Refer to the infographic to learn where the traction devices need to be placed.

Fines for noncompliance

Previously, truck drivers faced a fine of $121 for not carrying or installing chains when the law required it. As of October 1, fines of $196 are imposed for not carrying chains or other traction devices during the period of October 1 to April 30. And fines of $598 are imposed for driving without chains or other traction devices during mandatory chain ups.

The reason for the new regulations

The majority of highway closures during winter are caused by commercial trucks. For example, during the winter of 2017 to 2018, they caused 33 of the 35 closures on the Coquihalla Highway. In most cases the truck either didn’t have chains on or the chains were poorly installed, and this was one of the key factors in the incident. Following the introduction of the new regulations, this figure dropped to nine. Now that the regulations are being enforced, we can reasonably expect to see even fewer such accidents.

Commercial truck driving school serving Burnaby and Coquitlam

At North Shore Driving School, our professional truck driving school provides you with the training you need to be a better, safer truck driver. To learn more about our courses, contact us today.0

Sleep Apnea and Truck Driving: What you need to know

Sleep apnea is one of the biggest problems facing the commercial trucking industry today.

According to the most recent studies, about one-third of truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea, and drivers with this ailment are five times more likely to be in a preventable crash.

If you’re a trucker or are planning to become one, it’s important that you know the facts about sleep apnea. Here’s a basic overview of this ailment and the impact it has on truck drivers.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea, also called obstructive sleep apnea, is a respiratory condition that causes breathing interruptions of 10 seconds or longer while sleeping, with as many as 400 such pauses occurring in a single night. As sleep apnea affects the quality of a person’s sleep, it can lead to a spectrum of daytime symptoms, including:

  • Irritability
  • Feelings of depression
  • Morning headaches and nausea
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive drowsiness

The last two symptoms in particular — difficulty concentrating and excessive drowsiness — are extremely problematic for truck drivers. Sleep apnea makes it difficult for them to stay awake, focus their eyes and quickly react when driving.

What causes sleep apnea?

The main risk factors for sleep apnea are obesity and anatomical features like a thick neck, recessed chin, small jaw or narrow throat. Additional factors include nasal congestion, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

The high rates of sleep apnea among truckers may be due to the sedentary nature of the job, which can lead to obesity.

How is sleep apnea treated?

The most common treatment for sleep apnea involves the CPAP machine, which pumps air into a mask worn over the mouth and/or nose during sleep. This helps to keep the airways open and prevent breathing pauses.

Most cases of sleep apnea can be treated successfully, causing the ailment’s symptoms to greatly subside or disappear. Truck drivers with sleep apnea who undergo treatment should recover their ability to be alert, focused and quick to react when behind the wheel.

Truckers who suspect they may have sleep apnea should get tested immediately to ensure that they can safely perform their job. Moreover, note that certain truck companies in North America now require drivers who have a high body mass index (in some cases, 35) to undergo mandatory testing for sleep apnea. Testing is performed at a sleep centre, where the person’s sleep is monitored overnight.

A truck driving school serving Burnaby and Coquitlam

At North Shore Driving School, our professional truck driving school teaches safe driving practices and include lessons on collision avoidance and preventable accidents. To learn more about our courses, contact us today.0

Your Guide to Choosing a Used Vehicle

Once you’ve obtained your driver’s licence, it’s time to look into getting a car. Given the high cost of new vehicles, many people decide to buy their first car second-hand. Though opting for a used car is a smart move, like any major purchase, it’s a decision that requires a lot of consideration. However, if you keep these tips in mind, you’re sure to pick the right one.

What kind of car do you need?

The first consideration when choosing a used car is to pinpoint what kind of vehicle is right for you. To do so, determine your budget, how often you’ll be using the car, what makes and models you prefer, what size you need, your ideal safety rating and the fuel economy that suits you best. This will help narrow down the many options available to you.

Book a pre-purchase inspection

Before purchasing a used car, take your potential new ride to a mechanic for a once-over. During the inspection, any problems with the vehicle, be they mechanical, cosmetic, or safety-related, will be uncovered. Afterward, you can make an informed decision about whether or not you still want to buy the car. If you decide to, the information from the inspection can be used to negotiate a better price.

Take a test-drive

Looking at a car can only tell you so much. You won’t know how it handles until you’ve driven it. Take thirty minutes to drive the car around a familiar area to make sure that it can perform all basic manoeuvres to your satisfaction. These include braking, accelerating, changing lanes and parking. Doing so will help you determine if it’s a vehicle you’re comfortable driving.

Negotiating prices

Sometimes, the listed price for a used vehicle doesn’t seem fair. Don’t be afraid to try and negotiate. For reference, there are online tools which allow you to view the average price of similar vehicles in your area. Factor in what you learned during the pre-purchase inspection, then make an offer you feel is more suited to your budget. Be sure to be confident and be willing to pass on the car if the negotiation doesn’t go your way. There will always be other cars, so you don’t have to settle.

Scheduling driving lessons

With both a car division and a truck division, North Shore Driving School Ltd. has provided excellent driving instruction since 1961. Whether you’re in need of a refresher course or are making plans to get your Class 1 driver’s licence for operating semi-trailers, we offer convenient pay-as-you-go courses that can easily be tailored to fit your busy schedule. Contact our driving school in Surrey, B.C. today to make an appointment.


When you’re driving, you have to complete numerous complicated manoeuvres, and successfully doing that requires being aware of your blind spot. Here’s a basic guide to one of many fundamental driving concepts you will learn about during one of our driving theory courses or Graduated Licensing (GLP) courses.

What is a blind spot?

Let’s start with the basics. When you’re driving, your blind spots are essentially the areas around your vehicle that you cannot see, even while using your mirrors.

Each vehicle has a slightly different blind spot on each side. Your car’s construction determines the exact location and size of your blind spots, along with the positioning of the mirrors and the driver’s seat. The latter two can be manipulated to decrease blind spot size. However, you can’t eliminate them, so you need to learn how to check them properly in order to maintain your own safety and the safety of others on the road, while operating your vehicle.

How do I safely check my blind spot?

Blind spots are large enough to hold an entire car, motorcycle or bicycle. Hence, it’s important to know how to check your blind spots efficiently and safely, particularly before switching lanes, for instance.

To see their blind spots while driving, drivers perform what’s called a shoulder check. If they’re moving to the left lane, they quickly look over their left shoulder to see if any vehicles are driving in their blind spot. To check the right lane, the driver simply looks over their right shoulder.

For enhanced safety, many drivers also opt to attach blind spot mirrors to their side-view mirrors. These convex mirrors offer greater visibility around your vehicle. However, they shouldn’t be your only method for checking your blind spots and we recommend still utilizing the traditional shoulder check while driving.

If you’re feeling a little out of practice, check out our driving refresher courses for BC drivers!

These Typical Mistakes are Avoidable

Failing to check your blind spot is the most common and basic mistake. It places everyone on the road in danger and causes a significant number of accidents every year. It’ll also get you a failing grade from your evaluator should it happen during a test.

Another mistake is incorrect placement of side-view mirrors. This leads to decreased visibility into the blind spots. To ensure your side-view mirrors are offering maximum visibility, adjust them so you can’t see your car’s side in your own mirror.


Looking to refresh your driving safety skills and knowledge? North Shore Driving School recommends signing up for one of our refresher courses. Designed with the experienced driver in mind, these courses ensure you’re fully prepared to be a safe, informed driver on B.C.’s roads.

While our driving school is located in North Vancouver, we also serve a considerable area of Greater Vancouver, including West Vancouver, Lions Bay, Deep Cove and Bowen Island. To learn more about our refresher courses, contact us today to get started and register online for our car division!0

Know your truck: air brakes

Air brakes are used in heavy trucks and buses because they’re more reliable than standard hydraulic brakes. As a trucker, being familiar with air brakes and how they work is crucial to ensuring everyone’s safety on the road. Here’s what you should know about them.

How do air brakes work? 

The simplest way to understand how air brakes work is to compare them to hydraulic brakes. On regular cars, brakes are disengaged by default. Pressing the brake pedal forces fluid into the brake lines, engaging the brake. Air brakes, by contrast, are always engaged. Brake lines are filled with air, which is pressurized when the truck is turned on. When you engage the brake, air pressure is reduced which activates the braking mechanism.

Why do heavy vehicles use air brakes?

Heavy trailers need to be equipped with their own brakes to allow drivers to stop promptly and safely. Air brake systems make it possible to hook up a trailer’s brakes to the control system housed in the cab. This would be highly impractical with a hydraulic system.

What are the advantages of air brakes?

Air brakes are a lot easier to connect than hydraulic brakes and using air instead of hydraulic fluid prevents many potential malfunctions. For example, minor leaks in the brake lines won’t cause a complete failure of the system, and air brakes can even function despite major leaks. Plus, since air supply is unlimited, the system isn’t at risk of running out of the active braking substance.

Do I need special training to operate air brakes?

Safely operating air brakes requires professional training. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, which issues air brake endorsements, states that drivers operating commercial vehicles equipped with air brakes need to be trained to use them, as the cost of mistakes is much higher when driving heavy vehicles.

Do I need to be endorsed?

If you’re thinking of pursuing a career as a truck driver, getting an endorsement is non-negotiable. In British Columbia, being endorsed is required to drive commercial vehicles equipped with air brakes. The best way to ensure you get the endorsement is to sign up for an air brake course.

Truck driving schools serving Abbotsford, Surrey and the Greater Vancouver area

To ensure you get the most out of your air brake course, you can trust the instructors at North Shore Driving School. Contact us today to learn more about our truck driving programs.

How to stay focused and avoid distracted driving

Transport Canada reports that distracted driving now causes more collisions than impaired driving. Most of these types of incidents can be avoided if the proper precautions are taken. Here’s how to make sure you stay focused when you’re behind the wheel.

Only use your cellphone for emergencies

When you’re driving, your cellphone should only be used in the case of an emergency, never for a social call. Even using a hands-free device can distract you enough to miss a crucial visual or audio cue that would allow you to avoid a collision. Always safely pull over before using your phone.

Don’t try to power through fatigue
Fatigue, considered a type of cognitive distraction, can be lethal if you’re driving. If you start feeling drowsy, pull over to a safe location and allow yourself to doze off for a few minutes. It’s also a good idea to take regular breaks to stretch your legs, which can diminish feelings of fatigue. Nodding off or falling asleep at the wheel could have disastrous consequences.

Limit the level of activity in your car
While it’s understandable that you and your friends will want to have conversations while you’re cruising in your car, try to keep them short. Make sure your attention is on the road and not on your passengers, especially when you’re driving in difficult weather conditions.

Don’t eat and drive
Anything that pulls your attention away from what’s happening on the road increases the risk of crashing, and that includes eating while driving. You might think finishing your meal on the go will save you time, but food spills are a major source of distractions. The potential time save isn’t worth the risk to you and others.

Don’t multi-task
Never forget that when you’re driving, you’re in control of multiple tons of metal propelled by a powerful engine. It may be tempting to catch up on small tasks while driving, but don’t do it. No matter how comfortable you are behind the wheel, you can’t account for what other drivers do, and you can’t control what happens on the road. The best way to stay safe is to remain focused.

Develop good driving habits early

Good habits start in driving school. If you live in Surrey, Burnaby or elsewhere in the Greater Vancouver area, you can trust the instructors at North Shore Driving School to provide quality courses. Our truck driving schools are accessible to residents throughout the Lower Mainland (including Langley, Abbotsford and beyond). Contact us today to find out more about our programs or simply register for more info using our easy and quick registration form.0

5 tips for staying safe when driving in the rain

According to Transport Canada, over 25,000 people were injured in traffic collisions due to wet pavement in 2016, and difficult weather is becoming increasingly common every year. Follow these five tips to ensure you and your passengers stay safe when driving in wet conditions.

1. Focus 

Rainy weather alters most aspects of driving. Visibility is reduced, your vehicle reacts more slowly and other drivers are more unpredictable. Avoid distractions and stay focused on what’s going on around you.

2. Turn on your headlights
Headlights allow you to see the road better and make you more visible to other drivers. Moreover, it’s illegal to drive without headlights on in low visibility conditions anywhere in Canada.

3. Beware of aquaplaning
Aquaplaning, also known as hydroplaning, happens when a layer of water builds up between the road and your tires, causing them to lose traction. This can lead you to lose control of your vehicle. All it takes for aquaplaning to occur is one-fifth of a centimetre of water on the road and a speed of about 55 km/h.

If you start to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas pedal and maintain a straight course until you regain control. Avoid hitting the brakes as this can cause your car to spin. If your car does start spinning, turn in the direction you’re spinning. Fight the instinct to jerk the steering wheel in the opposite direction, as it could cause your car to flip over.

4. Turn off your cruise control
Using cruise control to maintain a steady speed may seem like a good idea when driving on slick roads, but it’s actually dangerous. First, the system’s sensors could be affected by the dampness. Second, cruise control could, ironically, make it more difficult to control your car

5. Slow down
The speed limits posted along the road assume optimal driving conditions, meaning low traffic, good visibility and favourable weather. Rain reduces visibility and slows down your car’s reaction time, so make sure to ease up on the gas when driving in the rain. You should also maintain a greater following distance from other cars.

Pick the right driving school

Whether you’re learning how to drive or upgrading your skills, picking the right truck driving school is important. With a service area that includes Surrey and Coquitlam, North Shore Driving School is a great choice for people residing on the Lower Mainland. Contact us today to find out more about our programs.

How to stay healthy when you’re on the road

For many truckers, life on the road is synonymous with limited exercise, a poor diet, long hours and mental health struggles due to isolation and lack of routine. As a result, truckers are more likely to develop health problems and on average have a lower life expectancy than the general population. Here’s what you can do to stay healthy while you’re on the road.

Modify your diet

Poor eating habits have been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and digestive cancers. Ideally, you should aim to replace fast food, fatty snacks and sugary drinks with healthy alternatives. However, you don’t need to do it all at once. Start by snacking on fruits and vegetables, then progressively integrate healthier proteins such as fish and poultry to your diet. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

Stay active
Spending all of your time sitting increases your risk of developing cardiovascular issues. Try to take regular breaks to stretch and walk around and maybe do simple exercises like push-ups. You should also aim to get at least 150 minutes of cardio a week, but even 10 to 15 minutes a day is beneficial. Again, start small and work your way up. Some companies even offer wellness programs that provide support and keep you motivated.

Ease up on the stimulants
While one or two cups of coffee a day aren’t dangerous for otherwise healthy people, excessive caffeine consumption should be avoided, especially in the form of energy drinks. These contain very high concentrations of both sugar and caffeine and are likely to disrupt your sleep schedule. They may also cause you to become jittery, which can be dangerous when you’re behind the wheel.

Sleep well
A regular sleep schedule will ensure you stay sharp, help your body recuperate and let you retain a sense of routine and stability while on the road. This is key to maintaining your mental health.

Mind your mental health
Isolation, long hours and lack of routine have all been linked to various mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Many drivers deal with these feelings by adopting unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive eating. Instead of adopting such behaviours, set aside some time every day to make phone calls to your spouse, family and friends. This will help you feel more grounded and connected.

Build good habits early

Attending the right truck driving school is the first step towards developing good habits that’ll stick with you over the long haul. Serving residents in Surrey, Abbotsford and other parts of the Lower Mainland, North Shore Driving School is a great choice for aspiring truckers. Contact us today to learn more about our driver training programs.