Getting a BC Driver's Licence

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

If you are a newcomer to British Columbia, and you drive a vehicle, you can use a valid driver's licence from your country for the first 90 days. You must apply for a BC driver’s licence within these 90 days.

You need different types of licences to drive a car, a motorcycle, bus, truck or taxi.

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) manages licences and provides insurance to BC motorists.

There are ICBC driver licensing offices throughout British Columbia. To find an office near you, go to the ICBC website at www.icbc.com. Select “Driver Licensing.”

Knowledge test and road test

Most newcomers to BC have to pass a knowledge test and road test.

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Knowledge test

The knowledge test is about the driving rules in BC.

To get ready to take the knowledge test, go to an ICBC driver licensing office and pick up the publication Learn to Drive Smart. You can also download this publication from the ICBC website. At the website, select “Driver Licensing.” The publication has information about British Columbia’s traffic laws, the rules of the road, and safe driving.

When you know what is in the publication, you can take the knowledge test.

The ICBC website has an online practice test so you can practise before you take the test. To take the practice test, go to the ICBC website. Select “Driver Licensing,” and take the practice test in English or Punjabi. You can also watch the online video, What's the Real Knowledge Test Like?

You take the knowledge test on a computer at an ICBC driver licensing office. The test takes about half an hour.

There are 50 questions in the knowledge test. You have to get at least 40 right, to pass the test.

If you do not get 40 questions right, you need to study some more. You can go back and take the test again whenever you feel ready.

You can take the knowledge test in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, English, Farsi (Persian), French, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Tell the ICBC driver licensing office if you need a translator.

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Road test

The road test usually takes about an hour. An ICBC driver examiner goes with you to test how safely you drive. The examiner will take you on city streets and on the highway. You have to do things like park, back up, change lanes, merge with traffic, and obey speed limits, traffic lights and stop signs.

If you pass the road test, you can get a British Columbia driver’s licence. You fill out the forms back at the office, pay the fees, and ICBC mails you the licence.

If you fail the test, you do not get a driver’s licence. You have to practise driving some more. Ask the examiner when you can take the test again.

Stages in getting a licence

If you have never had a driver’s licence before, you go through three stages:

  1. Learner’s licence
  2. Novice licence
  3. Full-privilege licence

Learner's licence

Learner’s licence

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

  • You must always have a licensed driver 25 years or older sitting beside you.
  • You cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • You cannot drink any alcohol when you are driving – your blood alcohol must be zero.
  • Your car must have an "L" sign (for learner) on it.

If you break any of the special rules for a learner driver, you have to pay a fine. You can also lose your right to drive, for a period of time.

If you break any traffic rules while you are a learner, you can lose your right to drive very quickly. For example, if you have two traffic tickets, you would lose your right to drive for one month. You can take the road test 12 months after you get your learner’s licence.

Novice licence

Novice licence

When you pass the road test at the end of the learner stage, you get a novice licence.

  • You can have only one passenger with you unless:
    • You have a licensed driver 25 years or older beside you, or
    • Your passengers are close family members.
  • You cannot drink any alcohol when you are driving – your blood alcohol must be zero.
  • Your car must have an "N" sign (for novice) on it for 24 months.

If you break any of the special rules for a novice driver, you go back to the beginning of the novice period.

If you break any traffic rules while you are a novice driver, you can lose your right to drive. The rules are the same as for a learner driver. For example, if you get two traffic tickets, you would lose your right to drive for one month.

Full-privilege licence

You can take the road test for a full-privilege licence after you have had the novice licence for two years.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2011.



Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence Driving in BC © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.
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