Step by Step Guide to Convert Foreign Drivers License to Canadian – BC Drivers License

Final_image-min 2How to convert my foreign driver’s license to a BC drivers license? This was a first question that I thought about before moving to Vancouver. Here we are explaining how you can get it done. Some quick facts before we dive into the details.

  • BC does not allow you to have two driving licenses. So when you are eligible for a BC driving license, you will have to surrender your foreign driving license.
  • You can use your foreign driver’s license during the first 3 months to drive in BC.

Step 0 – Check Your Eligibility

If you have a license from one of these countries and got two years of driving experience, you can convert your driving license to a BC driving license no questions asked.

If you a have a driving license from any other country/region you have to take a Knowledge test and a Road test. Depending on the driving experience, you will have to follow one of the following paths.

Has 2 years of driving experience

  1. Pass the knowledge test
  2. Pass a Class 5 road test you will get the full BC driving license

Has 1-2 years of driving experience

  1. Pass the Knowledge test
  2. Pass the class 7 driving test you will get a Novice driving license (what is a Novice driving license)
  3. Drive 2 years then pass a Class 5 road test to get a full BC drivers license

Has less than 1 years of driving experience

  1. Pass the Knowledge test
  2. Get the Lerners Drivers License (what is a Lerner’s drivers license)
  3. Wait till your original driving license  is 1 years old (if you got your drivers license on March 2018, you have to wait until March 2019)
  4. Pass the class 7 road test you will get a novice driving license (what is a Novice driving license)
  5. Drive 2 years then pass a Class 5 road test to get a full BC drivers license

Step 1 Before Arriving in BC

Get driving experience certification

If your driver’s license does not show an issue date, you need to get a certificate to show the period that you had your drivers license from a local authority

Get an IDP (International Drivers Permit)

An International Driving Permit is required only if your driver’s license is not in English or in French

Start Studying for the Knowledge Test

You can already start studying for your Knowledge test. Refer to study guide below.

Step 2 Pass your Knowledge test

You should have a permanent address in BC before taking the Knowledge Test.

Practice

You can walk into any ICBC office and get a free study guide. Personally, it took me about a total of 20 hours of reading and practice time. ICBC has an IOS app to help with both studies and practice. There are countless other resources online, But I recommend not to spend time/money time on them.

Take the Test

You can walk into any ICBC center and take the exam, no appointments needed. Find locations and opening hours of ICBC centers here. Note some ICBC centers are open till 9pm.

If you pass the test successfully, ICBC asks you to surrender your foreign driver’s license. But you don’t have to. Especially if you have some time of your 3 months quota you can keep it for some more time. But you have to surrender your license before taking the road test.

Step 3 Pass the Road Test

Practice

Although you have a good driving experience, I recommend you to take a few hours (1-3) of training with a certified instructor. Especially if you are moving from Asia like me you will discover lots of new rules. You can find driving instructors online. If you go with an independent trainer, they provide pick up/drop off. In Vancouver, they charge 70 – 90 CAD per 90 mins.

Be aware of the driving instructors, they will underplay your driving skills to sell more lessons to you.

Discuss with your instructor which ICBC center you should book for the exam. They also know ICBC road test areas. Practice around the area where you will have your road test.

Schedule a Test

Book the road test online. Usually, there is a waiting time of a couple of months. You can always change your appointment. Often people cancel their appointments. So regularly check for available slots.

Road Test

Road test takes around 40 mins. You have to bring a vehicle for the test. Also, bring a backup driver in case you fail.

Most of the personal driving instructors provide a “Road Test Package” which includes 40 mins warmup + Road test.

What happens if you Fail the Road Test

You can retake after 2 weeks. You have 3 attempts. So it’s really not a big deal failing the first attempt. I recommend taking a road test when you are reasonably confident about your driving.

Personally, I spent around 1200 CAD and it took me around 2 months to get it done. Finally, refer to the ICBC site for more information.

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