Driving in Canada and BC

  • In Canada, people drive on the right side of the road.
  • You must have a driver’s licence to operate a car, whether owned or rented.
  • If you own a car, you require vehicle registration, a licence plate and insurance to use it.
  • You must respect the rights of cyclists and pedestrians (people walking), and stop for pedestrians crossing the street.
  • All adults and passengers must wear a seatbelt.  Infants and Children must be carried an infant car seat, child car seat, or a booster seat.  It is the law.  Please click here for more information.
  • You must not leave young children alone in a car.

Getting a Driver’s License

All drivers in British Columbia must have a valid (legal) driver’s licence. If you are a new B.C. resident, and have a valid driver’s licence from your country or from another province of Canada, you can drive in B.C. for 90 days.

You must apply for a B.C. licence within 90 days. If you hold an International Driving Permit, you must also carry the accompanying foreign licence.

If you have a licence from the following countries you may not need to take the knowledge or road test. You can apply for a B.C. licence right away. If your driver’s licence is from anywhere else, you will need to take a knowledge and road test.

  • Austria ​
  • Australia ​
  • France ​
  • Germany
  • Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand ​
  • South Korea (not motorcycles)
  • Switzerland ​
  • Taiwan (not motorcycles)
  • United Kingdom (includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
  • United States (includes Washington DC and Puerto Rico)
  • another Canadian province

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) driver licensing offices have free books you can study for the knowledge test (English only). Knowledge tests are available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, English, Farsi (Persian), French, Punjabi, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese.  If you have never had a driver’s licence before, you will have to go through B.C.’s Graduated Licensing Program.

If you are getting a new BC licence, or are renewing your licence, you will now have a combined single card for both your BC driver’s licence and BC Medical Services Plan health card.  For more information, please see:    BC Drivers Licence and Services Card

At WelcomeBC – licence you will find full details on:

  • BC Driver’s Licence
  • Applying for a Driver’s Licence
  • Knowledge test
  • Graduated Licensing Program
  • Road test
  • Registration and Insurance

Use these links for extra information on

Car Insurance

You must not drive a car without insurance. For more information on car insurance read our Insurance page.

Winter driving

Whistler and Pemberton are in a mountain climate, and you must be prepared for winter conditions on the roads.  If you own a vehicle, you must have the proper tires for the conditions.  It is highly recommended that you have snow tires, or chains.  You can be fined if you are driving without proper tires.

Winter driving can be dangerous but Transport Canada has a handy and easy-to-read brochure, “Winter Driving” that is full of great safety tips. It explains how to get your vehicle ready for winter, like adding snow tires, getting an emergency kit and checking your lights, brakes and battery.  It also has information about the different types of winter driving conditions – like blizzards and black ice – and gives tips on how to stay in control while braking or skidding.  Keep a copy of this brochure in your glove compartment and stay safe on the road.  You can download your own copy when you click here.

Parking in Winter

It is important to know that parking regulations are not the same in winter as in summer.  Parking may be limited to one side of the street, or allowed only during certain times, so that snow plows are able to work to remove snow from the streets.  You can be ticketed or towed for parking illegally.  Be sure to obey all signs.  Click the link for more information:  http://www.whistler.ca/snow-clearing-and-winter-parking-regulations

Drinking and driving

In BC, the law means driving after having only one drink (.05) can be enough for the police to take your license. Also, drinking in public is not allowed.  If a driver is found to have a blood-alcohol level of between 0.05 and 0.08, the so-called “warning” range, there will be an immediate three-day driving ban, possible vehicle impoundment, and fines or related fees of up to $600. Those caught in this warning range multiple times will face a driving ban of up to 30 days and fines or fees of up to $800.