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.

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