You have just completed your move. You spent months finding the right neighbourhood, arranging to buy or rent a new home and then packed up your old one and moved to the new one. There are a million and one things to organize – hook up power, internet and natural gas. Register the kids for school. Buy a dog tag from your new town office.
With all of the tasks that come with establishing yourself in a new location, what so many people forget to do is switch over their drivers licence and insurance information to their new location. This has to be done in the time allotted by the insurance company (ICBC in BC) which can have serious consequences if you fail to do so.
Whenever you change your address, even to a new neighbourhood or town within BC, you should make sure your vehicle licence, registration and insurance is up to date to maintain your coverage. This is due to the fact that different locations carry different risks of theft, collision patterns and road hazards.
If your licence or policy information isn’t up-to-date, you might not be covered if you have an accident and could be on the hook personally for the damages and ICBC has a collection department specifically for this purpose. The basic rule is that your drivers licence and insurance policy must always show your current home address. You can easily change your address at any auto plan broker in BC.
If you move to BC from another province, you have 90 days to exchange your existing licence to a BC licence. However, you only have 30 days to register, licence and insure your vehicle after arriving in B.C. unless the vehicle is commercial, in which case it must be done immediately and has special rules for that.
When exchanging your drivers licence, you will need to prove your driving history which is done with a letter or driving abstract from the jurisdiction you moved from (if moving from within Canada) or an international driving permit and corresponding drivers licence (if moving from out of country). If the driver licence you are exchanging is your first licence ever issued then you just need to provide that and if you obtained your first licence in BC and are now returning, they already have your driving experience information. You will receive up to 15 years credit for driving experience you had in any previous jurisdiction.
Interestingly, you do not have to provide your claims history to exchange your drivers licence. Your rates are only set based on the length of driving experience.
Remember that ICBC requires any documents not in English to be translated by an ICBC approved translator at an additional cost – this includes licences from Quebec.
Because of the serious consequences, it is prudent if you’re temporarily relocating to study or work (or any other reason) to contact ICBC to be sure you don’t need to exchange your licence or change your vehicle insurance.