Driving in British Columbia as a foreign national…

By Daniel Henderson

In British Columbia, foreign nationals are permitted to drive if they are in possession of a legally issued foreign driving licence for a long as they are a full time student at a recognized University, College, or Educational Institution. Recognized means in this context that the Institution can grant degrees or local students are eligible for student loans to attend.  The foreign driver’s licence must be accompanied by an English translation if the language of the licence is not English. The foreign national must be in possession of both the licence and translation (if necessary) when operating a motor vehicle.

Foreign nationals should be aware that sometimes the local police refuse to accept a foreign issued licence as valid. In order to reduce the chance of this occurring, the foreign driver should also keep in their possession their student visa and their school transcript showing their full time attendance to show to the police if stopped. If the foreign national is, nonetheless, issued a ticket for failing to produce a valid driver’s licence or driving without a valid licence, then the driver should dispute this ticket. If a foreign driver receives an indefinite driving prohibition for driving without a valid licence, do not continue to drive. The driver can appeal this prohibition by written submissions to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. The penalty for driving while prohibited is quite severe; including the temporary seizure of the motor vehicle, a one year driving prohibition, and approximately $1500 in fines and penalties for a first offence.

If you find yourself in any of the predicaments discussed above, we would be happy to assist you in resolving the matter for you.  Please contact our criminal defence team to discuss or book an appointment with Daniel Henderson.