Q&A - Temporary Student in BC

Q&A ImageI am an international student (ESL) and have a driver's license in my country. I'm already studying in Canada for 6 months and have 6 more to go. My school is not listed in the designated schools that allow me drive during the course duration.

I asked the ICBC what are the consequences of me being caught driving in this situation and they answered me that depend on the police who will stop me.

You know what are the possible consequences if I caught driving in this scenario? I'll be able to continue my trip or I'll need call someone to drive the car?


Do you need your school ...

... to obtain your BC Class 5 Learner's License? You would need to present your foreign license along with other major ID, and pass a Knowledge Test. If you're under 19 and not living independently then they'll probably want a signed permission from a parent. Reasonable enough. After that, it would just be a matter of passing the BC Driving Test. But frankly, to consider driving a car here without a license (which probably also means with questionable insurance coverage) would be incredibly foolhardy, putting both yourself and others in potential danger. Get licensed. Get legit. It's what we all had to do here, and so should you.


Some drivers eventually must apply for and obtain a BC driver's licence even though they are not residents of the province:

Exemption of non-resident and new resident drivers

34 (1.1) Subject to subsection (1.2), the following persons are exempt, for the period specified, from the requirements respecting the holding of a driver's licence issued to him or her under this Act:

(c) a person who has a validly issued and subsisting driver's or operator's licence or permit issued according to the laws where he or she is ordinarily resident, for the period that the person is registered as a full time student at and attends any of the educational institutions listed in section 21 (2) (b);

(1.2) A person claiming an exemption under subsection (1.1) must carry a valid and subsisting driver's or operator's licence or permit on his or her person while operating a motor vehicle referred to in subsection (1) and must produce that driver's or operator's licence or permit to a peace officer on demand.

This is the list of institutions:

(i)   a university, as defined in the University Act;

(ii)   an institution, as defined in the College and Institute Act;

(iii)   [Repealed 2004-33-21.]

(iv)   the University of Northern British Columbia;

(v)   [Repealed 2002-35-9.]

(v.1)   the Thompson Rivers University;

(vi)   Royal Roads University;

(vii)   [Repealed 2003-48-20.]

(viii)   any other educational institution in the Province that is authorized under an enactment to grant degrees or is designated under section 3 (1) (a) of the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act,

Here is what (viii) above refers to:

Designation of appropriate authorities

3. (1) For the purposes of this Act, the Minister may, by order, designate for a province

(a) an appropriate authority, which authority may designate as designated educational institutions any institutions of learning in Canada that offer courses at a post-secondary school level, or any class of such institutions;

This doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but it looks like if it is a post secondary institution that you can obtain a student loan to attend you would qualify under (viii).

As you have spoken with ICBC about this, likely over furnishing proof of financial responsibility required in:

34 (2) A person exempt under subsection (1.1) is also exempt for the same period, while driving or operating in British Columbia a motor vehicle set out in subsection (1) (b), (c) or (d), from the requirements respecting the holding of a motor vehicle liability insurance card or a financial responsibility card, subject, in every case, to his or her giving the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia proof of financial responsibility under sections 106 to 113.

I am expecting that the school you attend doesn't qualify, so they have advised you that after being here for 6 months you are no longer exempt and must turn in your Brazilian driver's licence and obtain a BC driver's licence to continue to drive legally.

Did they say anything about the insurance consequences of driving without the required BC licence? If you are not considered properly licenced under the ICBC insurance contract and are involved in a collision you could be denied insurance coverage. I wonder how they stand on this?

Finally, to get to the meat of your question, what will the police do if you are checked driving after having been here for more than 6 months (or not being a full time student for that matter)?

Strictly speaking, the first time around would likely result in a violation ticket for driving without a valid driver's licence. You would be stopped from driving further but left to make your own arrangements to have someone collect you and the vehicle. If you were stopped again, it would be another ticket and a mandatory impoundment of the vehicle that you were driving.

...ICBC answered,, that depend(s) on the police who stop me..

I find it strange that you asked an INSURANCE company what the consequenses would be of driving with an out of province license after living in BC over 6 months, and they address what the police may or may not do.

The REAL consequence of driving without a license isn't the relatively small fine that results from a traffic ticket but the potential phenominal cost of a denied/breached insurance claim.

One aspect of the law that hasn't been mentioned is the instance where a person who is temporarily in BC for an extended period, returns home for a visit, or for that matter leaves BC to Alberta or anywhere.

The law requiring one to obtain a BC license after 6 months states:

"6 months from the date he or she last entered British Columbia"  (can be found under Section 34(1.1)(a) of the Motor Vehicle Act of BC)

6 months from the date he or she last entered British Columbia

Thank you everyone for your comments.

So @my5cents, does that mean if I go to Seattle for a weekend (or anywhere else outside of BC) and return to BC this period of six months restarts?

...Sure does.

Yes.  Take a few photo's of the trip, and a hotel receipt just in case you have to prove it later.

Ordinarily Resident

From what I've been reading, the fact of the actions depend on the police who will stop me, is related to interpretation of the phrase "ordinarily resident". As far as I researched there is no clear and single definition for the phrase and its meaning may vary according to context.

I'm checking now if I as an international student with date to back to my country and having no plans or intention to stay here, if I am a "ordinarily resident" or not.
If you guys know of something along those lines, I'll be grateful.

Interesting case on "Ordinarily Resident"

Your answer can be found at https://www.rbs.ca/publications/ordinarily-resident/

This case involves an ICBC claim, and that's the insurance company who will be breaching your coverage if you remain "ordinarily resident" without leaving BC before 6 months, or obtaining a BC DL.

Take a quick trip to AB for a day, that starts the 6 month clock all over.



It would for a tourist, but not for a student.

That's the point...

This is a very interesting point of all this. The Motor Vehicle Act actually does not mention at any time if the person must be a citizen, tourist or student. It does only mentions ordinarily resident, as we can see bellow:
Section 34, 1.1, a: a person who has a validly issued and subsisting driver's or operator's licence or permit issued according to the laws where he or she is ordinarily resident, for 6 months from the date he or she last entered British Columbia;
Section 34, 1.1, b: a person who has become ordinarily resident in British Columbia and who has a validly issued and subsisting driver's or operator's licence or permit issued according to the laws of the jurisdiction where he or she was most recently ordinarily resident, for 90 days after he or she became ordinarily resident in British Columbia;
I think I fit in the first case (34, 1.1, a), since even living here to study, I have family, home and work in my country. May be the problem will be convincing other about it LoL...
I don't know, may be there is a gap here about how to define a student as ordinarily resident or not.
Any way, I really thank you guys for the help.


You fall under (c), NOT (a) or (b).

.. the student falls under (c).... I disagree

Weren't we told that this "student's" school "didn't fall into the list" in Section 21 ?  Thus for all  intents and purposes this person isn't a student under "c"

In the case I pointed out, I think it basically says the opposite.  The claimant was studying in BC, but really was going to return to their home in the US, the claimant's lawyer got the judge to agree that the claimant was "ordinarily resident" in BC for the purposes of their claim because they were studying here, thus ordinarily resident in BC.  Not the first judgement I haven't ageed with.

That actually shoots down the entire 6 month issue under (a), and basically says that this student IS ordinarily resident in BC and falls under (b) and thus should obtain a BC DL within 90 days of becoming "ordinarily resident"

However if we ignor the case, the simple answer is...

(c) doesn't apply because of the "and",

- "has a validly issued (DL) where he or she is ordinarily resident"

- "is registered as a full time student"

- AND "attends any of the educational institutions listed in section 21 (2) (b)"

This person is then either "ordinarily resident" in BC and falls under (b) or IS NOT (my vote) and falls under (a) and then can escape the 6 month requirement by leaving the province and coming back.  According to the Act they don't have to return to where they are ordinarily resident, just out of BC.

If we say this student falls under (b) (follwing the case law). If this student attended at a Driver's Service Centre and states that they are a student, not at a school on the list, and they were from X and intended on going back as soon as they have completed their schooling in one year, I don't think the DSC would consider them qualified to obtain a BC DL, saying that they weren't "ordinarily resident" BC.

Not fish and not fowl.

Like so many areas of the MVA and MVR it's a can of worms.



I think so

Thanks @my5cents,

I probably will do it.
And also thanks for the tip about photos and receipts. I truly hope not need to use anything as "evidence", but I will be ready if needed.

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