I'm planning a move to Canada and apparently you have to give up your old license in order to get a local one. This would be extremely inconvenient as I would then have issues with driving back in Czech Republic whenever I visit, since I won't give up my residency.

What is the current penalty for driving in B.C. (Canada) for more than 3 months without exchanging your license? And is it common for police officers to enforce it?

  • 1
    Surely the Czech Republic would recognize a Canadian license with an IDP for short-term visits.
    – choster
    Jul 19, 2017 at 22:08
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    Get the paperwork you need (driving experience, etc.) from the Czech authorities. "Lose" your Czech license and get a replacement. Hand over the "lost" one to BC.
    – mkennedy
    Jul 19, 2017 at 23:59
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    Well then if you are correct that it's not also fraudulent to maintain your resident status in the Czech republic when you do not actually reside there, then it seems you must choose between that and being able to drive legally in British Columbia after having been there for more than 3 months; the BC law seems unambiguous that you can't have two licenses. (If BC is like the US states I'm familiar with, the legal penalty after 90 days is the same as for being unlicensed, and on top of that any local insurance you may purchase will be invalid.)
    – phoog
    Jul 20, 2017 at 9:43
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    @phoog, BC law is more-or-less the same as Ontario law. It isn't that you can't have two licenses, it is only that they really want to take your old license when they swap for one of their's. When I moved to Canada I gave up a California license for an Ontario one. When I moved back to California I applied for a new California license, since I still had a car in Ontario that required that license to keep insured and California won't swap for a foreign license anyway, so I now have two licenses. It would be illegal to not present the ON license when there, otherwise all is well.
    – Dennis
    Jul 20, 2017 at 15:49
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    @phoog, It is at 25(5) in this law, but I think it is fairly well understood that this is best interpreted as "If you have a BC license any other card you have is not a license (in BC)" since what cards you keep in your drawer at home, and what you (are required to) legitimately use when driving outside of Canada aren't really topics they can legislate about.
    – Dennis
    Jul 20, 2017 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


According to the BC government:

The consequences of driving without a valid driver’s licence are severe in this province. As a deterrent to individuals who continue to drive illegally, the consequences ramp up.

1st time – The first time police find you driving unlicensed, you will receive a violation ticket for driving without a valid driver’s licence. You will not be permitted to drive the vehicle any further on the road.

2nd time – When found a second time driving without a valid driver's licence, the notice on your driving record will inform the police that you have a previous 'No Driver’s Licence' conviction and state they will immediately impound the vehicle you are driving for seven days, whether it is owned by you or not. You will immediately be prohibited from driving. The driving prohibition period is indefinite – it will continue until you get a valid B.C. driver’s licence, meeting all other licensing requirements you may have had placed on you, such as paying any and all outstanding traffic fines.

Subsequently: If you continue to operate a motor vehicle after being prohibited from driving, you will be charged with ‘Driving While Prohibited’ which is punishable by a $500 fine and up to six months in jail for a first offence.

There are more pdfs of the fines etc at the bottom of the page.

It's also worth noting a potentially more critical implication - if your license has 'expired' (as in you've been more than 90 days without changing it), you essentially have no license (as above). What this means though, is in the event of an accident, you WILL NOT BE INSURED. And that could be a far more costly experience than any small fine from the government, in the event of an incident.

  • I'm not sure that I agree with the conclusion that waiting more than 90 days after moving is the same as a license expiry. Aug 24, 2017 at 20:42
  • @JacobHorbulyk It's not the same, but the effect is the same. If your license is expired or is no longer valid due to your settlement in B.C., you are driving without a valid license. That means you're subject to a ticket for doing so, and your insurance is no longer valid. Dec 26, 2017 at 14:35

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