British Columbia

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)
151 West Esplanade
North Vancouver, BC V7M 3H9
(604) 661-2800; 1-800-663-3051 | www.icbc.com

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
“E” Division
657 West 37th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K6
(604)264-3111 | http://bc.rcmp.ca/

Title Application

(see Vehicle Registration)


Title Transfer of Ownership

(see Vehicle Registration)


Titles for Mobile Homes

(see Vehicle Registration)

Registration Application

An application for registration and licensing must be made to an ICBC Appointed Agent (an Autoplan Agent). In British Columbia (BC), registration refers to maintaining a registry of vehicle ownership and licensing refers to annual licensing/operating authority and annual fee payment.

All trailers operated in BC must display a valid license plate. Out-of-province licenses of trailers are treated the same as motor vehicle licenses as outlined above.


Registration for Non-Residents

An out-of-province motor vehicle may be operated for touring purposes in BC for up to 6 months. All out-of-province vehicles used for other than touring purposes must be registered, licensed, and insured in BC within 30 days. Students attending a BC university, college or educational institution, and Armed Forces personnel may be exempted from registration, licensing, and insurance in BC upon providing proof of financial responsibility from their out of province insurer. This exemption is not automatic. Contact ICBC at 1-800-661-1866 or 604-443-7357 for additional details.

Commercial use vehicles, other than those operating under an inter-jurisdictional licensing agreement, must be registered, licensed, and insured immediately.

Motor vehicles imported into BC and that are registered, licensed, or titled outside of BC may, as a condition of issuing the registration, require the vehicle to first pass a mechanical safety inspection. ICBC may require the applicant to surrender the existing certificate of registration and the current license plate(s) issued for the motor vehicle outside of BC before ICBC will register the car in BC.


Registration Type

Passenger vehicles must be registered, licensed, and insured within 30 days of arrival if in BC for non-touring purposes.

If the vehicle is to be imported into BC from another country, contact the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (www.riv.ca or 1-888-848-8240) to determine the importation procedures and requirements.

BC License and insurance expires at midnight on the date indicated on the insurance certificate and on the license plate decal. No grace period.


Emissions Inspection

Light-duty vehicles, 5,000 kg and under, licensed for use in and around the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley must be tested at an AirCare Inspection Centre. Vehicles that are 7 model years old and newer are exempt. Further information can be obtained at www.aircare.ca or (604) 930-5633.

The emissions program (AirCare) does not apply to vehicles licensed for use outside of the Lower Mainland (Vancouver).


Safety Inspection

Used passenger vehicles imported from out-of-province must pass a safety inspection before ICBC will register the motor vehicle. Some vehicles may be exempt. Contact the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Branch, Ministry of Transportation at (250) 952-0577 for details.

BC registered vehicles that are rebuilt from salvage or amalgamated must undergo an inspection before a license is issued. Most homebuilt (Ubilt) vehicles must also pass an inspection before being registered.

Commercial vehicles with a licensed GVW in excess of 8,200 kg, all taxis and commercial or business-insured buses, heavy commercial trailers, and all vehicles that require a Passenger Transportation License must be periodically inspected under the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program.

The safety inspection will determine whether the vehicle complies with the standards for motor vehicles and whether the frame of the motor vehicle has been compromised.


Title and Registration Fees

AUTOMOBILE

Title Fee: N/A

Registration Fee: $53.00 – $142.00 based on weight *

MOTORCYCLE

Title Fee: N/A

Registration Fee: $33.00

DUPLICATES

Plate Fee: $18.00

Registration Fee: $18.00

Driver’s License Fee: $17.00

Title Fee: N/A

Special Plates: $100.00 + $5.00 GST

* British Columbia charges an $18.00 registration fee upon initial registration.

Plate Disbursement

Front and rear license plates must be displayed on all BC licensed passenger vehicles except motorcycles and trailers, which require a rear plate only. BC utilizes an expiration decal that includes the month, year, and date of expiration of the vehicle license and insurance. A decal is applied to the rear plate for passenger cars and trailers (front for commercial trucks and buses over 5,500 kg GVW) indicating expiration of license and insurance. Vehicle licenses are issued for periods ranging from 3 months to 12 months.

Transfer of Plates

License plates remain with the original registrant when a vehicle is sold. The new owner must register the vehicle within 10 days by submitting a transfer form (APV9T) signed by the previous owner along with the previous registration, and pay provincial sales tax and applicable transfer fee. License plates no longer in use may be disposed of, returned to ICBC for recycling and a refund of the unexpired portion of the licensing fee, or attached to a replacement vehicle if the transfer is registered with ICBC within 10 days of the plates being attached to the replacement vehicle.

Driver's License Examination

Every applicant for a driver’s license may be required to pass a vision and medical screening, knowledge test, and road test to obtain the class of license applied for.

The basic knowledge test contains 50 multiple-choice questions that test the applicant’s understanding of material in the ICBC driving guide including rules of the road and traffic signs.

The test is available in English, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Croatian, Farsi, Mandarin, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.


Graduated Drivers Licensing

BC’s Graduated Licensing Program applies to new drivers of any age. At 16, teens are eligible for a Learner’s License.

The Learner’s License includes the following conditions/restrictions: must be accompanied by a qualified supervisor (at least 25 years of age who holds a valid full-privilege driver’s license); the supervisor must sit beside the learner; a Learner Driver (L) sign must be displayed in the back windshield or on the rear of the vehicle; the learner must not drive after consuming any amount of alcohol (zero BAC); only 2 passengers may be in the vehicle – the supervisor and 1 additional passenger; the learner may only drive between 5 a.m. and midnight.

After holding the Learner’s License for at least 12 months (9 with approved driver education), the learner is eligible to take a road test to graduate to the Novice stage.

The Novice stage includes the following conditions/restrictions: a Novice Driver (N) sign supplied by ICBC must be displayed in the back windshield or on the rear of the vehicle; the novice must have a zero BAC; must not carry more than 1 passenger other than immediate family members unless accompanied by a qualified supervisor at least 25 years of age who holds a valid full-privilege driver’s license.

After holding the Novice License for at least 24 consecutive months (18 months with approved driver education) without a citation, the driver is eligible to take a Class 5 or 6 road test to graduate to a full-privilege license.


Drivers License Issuance/Application

A new resident may use their out-of-province driver license for the first 90 days they reside in BC.

An applicant for a driver’s license must: be at least 16 years old, obtain parental/guardian consent if under 19; provide primary identification (e.g., birth certificate or certain immigration documents) and secondary identification (e.g., Passport, school ID, credit card).

Knowledge and road testing may be waived for applicants surrendering a valid Canadian, American, Austrian, German, Japanese, South Korean, or Swiss driver’s license.

An applicant for a full-privilege BC driver’s license must provide proof that they have held a driver’s license for at least 24 months. Otherwise, the applicant will be placed in BC’s Graduated Licensing Program.

License includes photograph, but not social security number.


Drivers License Renewal

License renewal is generally every 5 years from the birthday of the applicant nearest the date the license was issued. A new photo is taken and an interim license issued to use until new photo license is received by mail.


Types of Drivers Licenses

The types of licenses are classes 1 through 8.

A Class 1 license holder can drive a semitrailer truck and all motor vehicles or combinations except motorcycles.

A Class 2 license holder can drive all buses and vehicles in Classes 4 and 5.

A Class 3 license holder can drive trucks with more than 2 axles, including dump trucks, large tow trucks, and Class 5 vehicles.

A Class 4 license holder can drive taxis, limousines, ambulances, special buses used to transport people with disabilities, and also Class 5 vehicles.

A Class 5 or 7 license holder can drive 2-axle vehicles except for Class 4 vehicles and motorcycles. These include cars, vans, 2-axle trucks, and utility vehicles, motor homes (including those with more than 2 axles), limited speed motorcycles (e.g., mopeds or mini-scooters), all-terrain vehicles, construction vehicles, trailers 4,600 kg or less, and buses or vans seating not more than 10 people.

A Class 6 or 8 license holder can drive motorcycles, all-terrain cycles, and all-terrain vehicles.

Distracted Driving

The use of text messaging and handheld cell phones while driving are prohibited.


Emergency Radio/Cellular

Citizen band radio channel 9 is not monitored for emergencies.


Headsets

No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.


Impaired Driving

Canadian federal law prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (.08 BAC). British Columbia sets an illegal per se limit of .05 BAC. Violating this law could result in temporary loss of driver’s license.

British Columbia sets the legal drinking age at 19.

Ignition interlocks may be ordered for impaired driving offenders at administrative discretion.


Move Over Law

Drivers approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, including tow trucks, displaying flashing lights must slow down, and if traffic permits, move over into the adjacent lane in order to pass by.


Seat Belts

Where a vehicle is fitted with seat belts, the complete seat belt must be worn properly unless the person has an official exemption form signed by a medical practitioner.

Exemptions exist only for vehicles manufactured without seat belts, taxis, police, and emergency vehicles, buses made before 1995 weighing more than 4,536 kg, and for verified and certified medical reasons.


Child Passenger Safety

All infants must be properly secured in an approved rear-facing infant seat away from an active frontal airbag until they reach a weight of 9 kg and 1 year old.

All children weighting 9-18 kg must be secured in an approved child seat.

All children must be restrained in an age and weight appropriate child seat until 9 years of age, unless they have reached the height of 145 cm tall.


Railroad Crossing

Drivers must yield to all trains and must stop if a signal or flag person so indicates and not proceed until it is safe to do so. Stop between 5 and 15 meters from the closest rail. If there is a crossing gate down, drivers must wait for it to go up before proceeding.


School Buses

Drivers must stop for school buses with flashing lights whether approaching from the front or rear. The vehicle may not proceed until the school bus moves on or the driver turns off the lights or pulls in the stop sign.

Bumper Height

A motor vehicle, except a motorcycle, must be equipped with a front and rear bumper (where originally installed by the manufacturer) and where a replacement bumper has been installed, the replacement must give substantially the same protection as the original bumper. In addition, if the suspension height (bumper height) of a vehicle is altered more than 10 cm [4 inches], the vehicle must be inspected.


Headlight Use

Headlights are required to be used 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, or when visibility is 150m or less.


Hazard Light Use

Hazard lights may be used when operating a slow-moving vehicle or when a vehicle is disabled on the highway.


Tire Chains

Tire chains are required on certain roads as posted Oct.


Studded Tires

Studded tires are permitted Oct. 1 – Apr. 30.


Glass/Window Tinting

The rear window may be tinted, as may side windows behind the driver. Only the top 75mm [3 inches] of the front windshield may be tinted. If the rear window is deeply tinted to limit visibility to the rear, both left and right side mirrors must be fitted and functioning. Tinted manufactured glass on the front windshield must meet the minimum light transmittancy requirements under the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.


Telematics

It is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle equipped with a television if the television can be viewed by the driver, unless the screen displays information solely designed to assist the driver’s ability to safely drive the vehicle.

A person cannot drive a vehicle with a television unless the television is safely and securely mounted so that it does not obstruct the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle.


Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are permitted.


Windshield Stickers

A driver may not drive on a highway if a windshield sticker obstructs the driver’s view.


Other Equipment Rules

N/A.

Motorcycle Equipment

All riders and passengers under 16 must wear a motorcycle safety helmet. Motorcycle handlebars must be below the shoulder height of the operator when the operator is properly seated on the motorcycle.

All motorcycles and mopeds must be equipped with at least 1 headlamp and 1 stop lamp. Those manufactured after December 31, 1974 must be equipped with a head-lamp or headlamps, which automatically turn on when the motorcycle’s engine is started. The headlamp(s) must remain on as long as the engine is running.

Any motorcycle carrying a passenger must be equipped with footrests.


Motorcycle Licenses

A Class 6 Learner’s License is valid for 12 months (Class 8 Graduated Licensing Program Learner’s License is valid for 24 months) and permits the holder to ride under the following conditions: must ride within sight of a qualified supervisor 19 or older who holds a valid Class 6 license (25 or older for Class 8 Learner’s License); must not carry a passenger; must not exceed 60 km/h; permitted to ride only during daylight hours, that is, between sunrise and sunset. A Class 8 motorcycle learner’s license also requires the holder to maintain zero blood alcohol content and display a Learner Driver (L) sign to the rear of the motorcycle.

After passing the motorcycle skills test, the supervision and speed restrictions are removed.

After passing the motorcycle road test, a Class 6 or 8 driver’s license is issued.

If the test is taken using a motorcycle with an engine displacement of 200cc or less, the license issued does not permit carrying a passenger on the motorcycle; if the test is taken on a motor scooter, the license is restricted to motor scooters only; if the test is taken on a motorcycle with sidecar or a trike, the license is restricted to 3-wheeled motorcycles only.

A Class 8 driver’s license also requires the holder to observe zero blood alcohol content and display a New Driver (N) sign to the rear of the motorcycle.


Motorcycle Noise Limits

A motorcycle must have a properly functioning muffler.


Mopeds & Other

Mopeds and other limited speed motorcycles (e.g., most 50cc motor scooters) must be registered, licensed and insured. May be operated with any class of driver’s license. Minimum licensing age is 16. Motorcycle safety helmet must be worn.

Motor assisted cycles (bicycles with small electric assist motors or MACs) are not required to be registered, licensed or insured, and a driver’s license is not required. Minimum age of operator is 16. Bicycle safety helmet must be worn. Further details on MAC definitions and requirements can be obtained by contacting ICBC.

Trailer Dimensions

A person must have a permit to operate a trailer whose length is 12.5 meters or more. A person must have a permit to operate a semitrailer having an overall length greater than 20 meters.


Trailer Brakes

Independent trailer braking system required where licensed weight of a trailer (excluding tow dollies) exceeds 1,400 kg or over 50% of licensed weight of towing vehicle; not required with motorhome towing with a towbar a motor vehicle weighing less than 2,000 kg that is also less than 40% of motorhome GVWR.

Tow dolly braking systems are required where the aggregate net weight of the tow dolly and the GVW of the towed vehicle exceeds 1,400 kg except where the GVWR on the towing vehicle is greater than the combined net weight of the tow dolly, the GVW of the motor vehicle being towed and the GVW of the towing vehicle.


Trailer Hitch/Signals

Must be secured to frame; safety chain required.


Trailer Lighting

Trailer must be equipped with taillights, brake lights, turn signals, license plate light and reflectors. Clearance lights and reflectors required if overall width 2.05 meters or more or gross weight over 1,400 kg.


Trailer Mirrors

Two mirrors required; if trailer obstructs view through inside mirror, then 2 outside mirrors required.


Trailer Speed Limits

80 km/h on provincial highways, and 50 km/h in populated areas, or as posted.


Trailer Towing

A person must not drive or operate a motor vehicle and trailer unless the following occurs: the drawbar or other connection between the motor vehicle and trailer holds them together; the device which couples the trailer to the motor vehicle is firmly attached to a structurally adequate integral part of the frame of each vehicle; and the vehicles are equipped and connected with an auxiliary coupling device consisting of a chain or metal cable equal in strength to the principal coupling device. This provision does not apply where the coupling device is a 5th-wheel and kingpin assembly used to couple a semitrailer to a truck.

  • Except when the combination of vehicles consists of a motor vehicle and a pole trailer, the length of the drawbar or other connection between the motor vehicle and the trailer must be 6 meters or less to operate without a permit.
  • Tow dollies displaying valid license plates are exempt from BC licensing requirements for a period of up to 6 months.

Trailer Other Provisions

N/A.

Accident Reporting

No reporting requirement.


Bail Bonds

Contact your local AAA club about AAA Guaranteed Arrest Bond validity in Canada.


Liability Laws

Vehicle insurance is compulsory for vehicles operating in BC.

The minimum third party legal liability insurance limit for passenger vehicles is C$200,000 exclusive of interest and costs indemnifying for legal liability arising from bodily injury or death to 1 or more persons, or loss of or damage to property in 1 accident.

Claims by residents or by tourists for damage to vehicles or injuries to occupants caused by ‘uninsured’ or ‘hit-and-run’ vehicles when operated on a highway in BC are payable by ICBC subject to a maximum of C$200,000. However, the payment to a tourist is limited to the lesser of either C$200,000 or the maximum amount that would be available, under similar circumstances, to a BC resident touring in the tourist’s home jurisdiction. All claims for property damage by a hit-and-run vehicle in BC are subject to a C$750 deductible.

Tourists visiting BC are required to produce proof of financial responsibility if their vehicle is involved in an accident in BC. In that case the tourist should be able to produce a “financial responsibility card.” The tourist should obtain the card before entering Canada. The financial responsibility card is obtained from the insurer providing the current insurance on the vehicle used by the tourist. That insurer must have undertaken to pay claims arising in Canada in accordance with the compulsory insurance laws in the jurisdiction where the accident occurs.

Tourists and non-residents can maintain their out-of-province insurance if the respective vehicle is licensed outside of BC and it complies with the BC licensing exemptions noted above.

 


Weigh Stations

Commercial vehicles, agricultural vehicles, and buses over 5,500 kg must stop at inspection stations as directed. Before entry into the province, commercial vehicle operators must call the permit line (1-800-559-9688) and obtain a nonresident vehicle permit (temporary license) if they are not licensed for travel in BC under an inter-jurisdictional licensing agreement.


Bicycles

All bicycle riders are required to wear helmets.


Other

U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. from Canada by land or sea are required to present proper travel documents according to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Proof of citizenship is required for travel to Canada by land or sea. A U.S. passport is required for travel by air to Canada and to the U.S. Permanent U.S. residents who are not citizens should carry their Alien Registration Receipt Card.

All children must have their own travel documents. In lieu of a U.S. passport or passport card, U.S. children under 16 traveling to and from Canada by land or sea may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization Certificate. If the parents are separated or divorced, the parent crossing the border should have proof of custody or a letter from the other parent. Persons under 18 years of age who are not accompanied by a parent should bring a letter from their parent or guardian giving them permission to cross the border.

A visitor is permitted to bring a reasonable amount of personal effects, a reasonable supply of food, and a full tank of gas. “Reasonable” means enough for personal use during the length of stay in Canada. Any unreasonable amounts are subject to duty.

A visitor must have a rabies vaccination certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian to bring dogs or cats into Canada.

Open containers are prohibited in British Columbia. The legal drinking age is 19.

The maximum legal blood alcohol content is .08 percent.

A Class 7 or 8 Learner’s or Novice Driver’s License holder cannot have any alcohol in his or her system while operating a motor vehicle (zero BAC).