Getting a BC Driver’s License

Obtaining a driver’s license can seem like a daunting task to teenagers and other inexperienced drivers. After all, there are handbooks to read, as well as numerous rules and regulations to learn. What is the speed limit in a school zone? Is it legal to change lanes in an intersection? To those of us who have been driving a while, the answers to these questions come easily. But remember back to when you were first learning how to drive. Do you remember the anxiety you experienced your first time behind the wheel?

The Application Process
Fortunately, the application process for obtaining a BC driver’s license is quite simple. Teenagers can begin the application process at the age of sixteen. However, youths between the ages of sixteen and nineteen must also have the written consent of their parent or legal guardian. New residents have 90 days to apply for their BC driver’s license. Full-time students and visitors who are staying in British Columbia less than six months can continue to drive using their original driver’s license.

The Graduated Licensing Program
Applicants must successfully pass the Graduated Licensing Program to obtain their BC driver’s license. This program is a tiered system designed to give teenagers and other inexperienced drivers the information and driving skills necessary to be competent drivers.
The first of the three tiers is “L,” which stands for a “learning” driver. Individuals with this designation are only allowed to drive under the supervision of a licensed adult driver. To receive the L license, you must pay a fee, pass a vision test, and answer forty of the fifty questions on the ICBC knowledge test correctly.

After one year of driving with adult supervision, the L license holder can apply for the N driver’s license, which is for novice drivers. Obtaining this N license requires the L license holder to pass the Class 7 road test. The time frame an individual must remain classified as an N driver depends on whether or not that individual has completed an official British Columbia driver training course. Individuals with this course under their belt, can apply for the full privilege driver’s license after eighteen months. Individuals without the course must wait two years. The date an N driver is first eligible to apply for the full privilege license will be printed on the back of the N license.

The final tier of the BC driver’s license, as you may have already gleaned, is the full privilege license. To obtain this license, the N driver must have a record of safe, responsible driving for the previous eighteen to twenty-four months. This means the driver cannot have any traffic violations on his or her record and cannot have been found at fault for any traffic accidents. If these criteria are met, the N driver must pass the Class 5 road test.