British Columbia is a great place to drive and getting your Class 1 license in BC is a great way to make a living. The Class 1 license cost in BC ranges depending on the type of training you are going to get and what type of school you go to. In this summary we will go over:
- BC Driver’s License Classes
- Air Brakes Endorsement in BC (Code 15)
- 7 Easy Steps to Get your BC Class 1 License
- What Will It Cost to Get Your Class 1 License In BC?
- Contacts, Forms and Resources
Let’s show you how to get your Class 1 driver’s license in BC in 7 Easy Steps. First, let’s go over the basics.
BC Driver’s License Classes
BC Driver’s License Classes go by a number system. A Class 1 license in BC will give you the most driving options and is known as a commercial driver’s license. Commercial driver’s licenses in BC range from Classes 1 – 4. Classes 5 and 7 are for your standard passenger automobile. Classes 6 and 8 are for motorcycles.
If you want more information on the types of BC driver’s license classes, you can visit the ICBC website.
Who is the ICBC?
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is a provincial crown corporation that is responsible for driver licensing in BC as well as mandatory public car insurance.
What is a Class 1 License in BC?
A Class 1 license in BC allows you to drive semi-trailer trucks and any other vehicles you can drive with a Class 2 – 5 license. You cannot drive motorcycles with a Class 1 license.
What kind of vehicles can you drive with a Class 1 License?
With your Class 1 driver’s license you can drive almost any type of motor vehicles. Examples of vehicles you can drive with a Class 1 license in BC are:
- semi-truck trailers
- large straight body trucks like a flatbed or cube
- commercial heavy equipment like mixer trucks and dump trucks
- tow trucks
- taxis or limousines
- mobile crane truck
What is the difference between a Class 1 and a Class 3 license in BC?
A class 1 license in BC is primarily to allow you to drive semi-truck trailers. With your Code 15 air brakes endorsement, it allows you to drive vehicles and trailers equipped with air brakes, like tractor-trailer units.
A Class 3 license is for large trucks with more than 2 axles, like straight-body trucks, heavy equipment trucks like mixer or dump trucks, tow trucks of any weight and mobile truck cranes. It also allows you to tow a tractor or vehicle providing it is not equipped with air brakes.
With a Class 3 license you cannot drive vehicles from other classes except for Class 5. A Class 1 license allows you to drive most motor vehicles but this means the testing, even though you might just want to drive a truck, will cover other classes of commercial vehicles like buses.
Interested in getting your Class 3 license instead? You can find out all the different types of vehicles you can drive and what the requirements are with our guide to Getting your BC Class 3 License in 6 Easy Steps.
Air Brakes Endorsement in BC (Code 15)
Endorsements in BC are extra privileges or restrictions added to your driver’s license. As a truck driver going for their Class 1 license in BC, you need to get an air brakes endorsement on your BC driver’s license because most vehicles you are going to drive will be equipped with air brakes.
There are two different types of air brake endorsements you can obtain:
- On-highway. For large trucks, buses and RVs equipped with air brakes that drive on roads and highways in B.C. If you are going to be driving a truck commercially, transporting goods on public roadways, this is the endorsement you will need.
- Off-highway (industrial). Generally used for large vehicles equipped with air brakes when transporting natural resources on logging roads. This endorsement does not allow you on public roadways. You need an industrial endorsement if you will be:
- operating unlicensed vehicles that are equipped with air brakes, and
- these vehicles are being used to transport natural resources on industrial roads.
You do not need an industrial air brake endorsement to operate skidders, loaders, graders or yarders on industrial roads.
7 Steps to Get your Class 3 License in BC: The Process
We have broken the whole process down into 7 easy steps so you can get an overview of how you can get your Class 1 License in BC:
- Step 1: Ensure you meet the minimum requirements
- Step 2: Complete your Air Brake Course
- Step 3: Study for your knowledge tests
- Step 4: Apply for your Class 1 Learner’s License
- Step 5: Practise driving
- Step 6: Complete your road tests
- Step 7: Apply for your full-privilege Class 1 license
Step 1: Minimum Requirements
You have to be at least 19 years old to get a Class 1 license in BC. Before you begin the licensing process, you should make sure you meet the rest of the minimum requirements. You must:
- Possess a full-privilege Class 5 (or 6) license. If you are still in the graduating licensing system you cannot apply for a Class 1 license yet.
- Have less than 4 penalty point incidents in the past 2 years on your driving record.
- Have no driving-related criminal convictions within the past 3 years.
- Ensure you are in good health and do not have any serious medical conditions.
- Ensure any fines or debts owed to ICBC are paid.
If you are not from BC, you will need a 3 year driving record abstract. For more information on out-of-province driver abstracts, visit this section of the ICBC website. You will need to bring the driving abstract with you when applying for your Class 1 Learner’s License at the licensing office.
If you meet these requirements, you are ready to being your journey to get your BC Class 1 license.
Step 2: Complete your air brake course
If you are driving semi-trailer trucks, which is primarily what the Class 1 license is for, then both the tractor and the trailer will be equipped with air brakes. This means you need to get an air brakes endorsement (Code 15) on your license as you are getting your Class 1 license.
Many driving schools offer the air brakes course as part of a commercial driver training package, so you might want to call a couple first and ask them about the process they recommend following if you are going to enrol in their course. They may have their own requirements, like getting your Class 1 learner’s license first before starting any training or courses.
To get your on-highway air brake endorsement in BC you need to:
- attend an air brakes course
- complete a knowledge test
- pass a pre-trip air brake inspection test
A course is not required to obtain your industrial air brakes endorsement. You will get this endorsement after a 30 day training period with an employer operating on industrial roads. They will send the ICBC a proficiency letter on your behalf.
Air brakes (air to all foundation brakes):
A vehicle with an air brake system has brakes that are initiated by air pressure from an engine-driven compressor. This sends air pressure through a series of hoses, reservoirs and control valves to all the vehicle’s foundation brakes.
Types of on-highway air brake courses
There are two types of air brake courses:
- Driver-Certification Air Brake Course
- Standard Air Brake Course
The Driver-Certification Air Brake Course includes 16 hours of classroom theory and 4 hours of training on pre-trip air brake inspections. The Standard Air Brake Course only includes the classroom theory part.
If you complete the Driver-Certification Air Brake Course, you can skip the ICBC air brake pre-inspection test because it is done as part of the course. This means you are eligible for your air brake endorsement right after you successfully complete the knowledge test.
If you took the standard course, we recommend doing your air brake pre-inspection test at the same time as your road test, so you don’t have to arrange to bring a vehicle to the licensing office twice.
You can visit the ICBC website to find an approved driving school.
Make sure you get your air brake endorsement added to your driver’s license within one year, otherwise you will have to complete the course again.
After you have finished your air brake course, it is time to hit the books!
Step 3: Study for your Knowledge Tests
Now that you have completed your air brakes course, you need to study for your knowledge tests. You should complete your air brakes knowledge test at the same time as your Class 1 license knowledge test.
You will need to review the Driving Commercial Vehicles Handbook to prepare for your test, which is available to read or download online.
The tests you will be completing when applying for your Class 1 learner’s license are:
- Class 1 commercial license knowledge test
- Air brakes knowledge test
You will need to go through all the chapters of the handbook for your Class 1 and air brakes tests except Chapter 12 as it is only for industrial air brakes. There is a license study chart on page 2 of the handbook.
Make sure you are familiar with all your road signs which are covered in Chapter 11. Be sure to try the online practice test too.
What is an axle? An axle is a shaft on which two or more wheels revolve.
Step 4: Apply for your Class 1 Learner’s License
You will need to attend an ICBC licensing office to apply for your Class 1 Learner’s License. Use this search feature to locate an office near you. Testing is not available at the Cloverdale and Surrey Guildford locations. Make sure to bring the following documents with you:
- Two pieces of ID
- 3 year driver abstract (only if you are new to BC)
- Certificate of completion for air brakes course
At the ICBC licensing office you will be asked to complete the commercial license knowledge test. You should also do your air brakes knowledge test as well. If you do them at the same time, there is only 1 fee of $15 instead of 2 fees if you write them separately.
You must get 80% on the tests to pass. If you fail, you can retake test after waiting 7 days. You don’t have to retake both of them, just the test you failed. If you don’t pass after the third attempt on your air brakes test though, you will need to retake the whole air brakes course again. There will be additional test fees for each attempt.
If you pass your air brakes knowledge test and did the Driver-Certification air brakes course, you will now be able to have your Code 15 air brakes endorsement added to your license. You don’t actually have to get a new photo license card with the endorsement on it, you can just keep your completion paperwork on you in the vehicle and wait to add it to your license once you are ready to reclassify it to a Class 1 license at the end of the process.
If you did the standard course, you will have to do a pre-trip air brakes inspection test before obtaining your endorsement. This can be done at the same time as your Class 1 road test. If you go this route, the ICBC will issue you a learner’s license with a “courtesy” air brakes endorsement on it so you can practice with an instructor legally.
Vision and Medical Assessments
The other requirements to get your Class 1 learner’s license is a vision test (completed at the licensing office) and a medical questionnaire.
You will be asked about any known medical conditions that may impair your ability to drive. If you are concerned about anything, talk with your doctor or contact Road Safety BC first. You will have to sign a declaration regarding your answers.
The vision assessment checks:
If there any issues raised in the medical screening or vision assessment, you may have to see a doctor or optometrist before getting your learner’s license.
- your ability to read from a distance (visual acuity)
- your ability to see objects on each side of you (peripheral vision)
- your ability to tell how close objects are (depth perception)
- whether you have double vision (diplopia)
- your ability to distinguish red, green and amber (colour perception)
If you passed your knowledge tests, vision screening and the medical questionnaire doesn’t raise any red flags, you will be issued a BC Class 1 learner’s license.
Step 5: Schools & Training
There isn’t a formal requirement to do any lessons or driver training courses before applying for your full-privilege Class 1 license in BC. If you haven’t had experience driving a truck before, you are going to want to take some lessons so you pass the road tests quickly and efficiently.
Even if you have your Class 3 license already and are just looking to upgrade, you likely want to get some on the road experience handling a trailer with air brakes. A training program from a reputable school also looks great on your resume if you are just starting out.
Many schools offer an air brakes course as part of the driving lessons package, so you might want to contact a couple of them before starting your Class 1 licensing process. Some offer extensive in class, workplace skills and on the road training while others have short programs with just driving lessons. Make sure to shop around.
If you want to practice with a friend or relative that has a truck, they must be at least 19 years old and have a Class 1 license. There can’t be anyone else in the truck with you other than the instructor and they have to sit beside you or behind you to your right while you are driving.
The learner’s license you obtained is valid for 1 year so don’t delay practicing.
Make sure the school or instructor is licensed/registered with ICBC. Use their school locator to find one near you.
Step 6: Class 1 Road Tests
Now that you have experience behind the wheel, you have to do your road tests. If you went to a school, they might arrange that for you. Another advantage to attending a school is they typically include a truck for you to use for your road tests.
Unfortunately you can’t book your test online for commercial road tests. You have to either call in the road testing booking centre in the Lower Mainland, Kelowna and Prince George or call your local driving licensing office if you live anywhere else.
First, make sure you know where you can get a vehicle for your road test before booking. If the school you went to doesn’t provide you a vehicle for the test or you didn’t do any professional training, then look around for a rental or ask a friend.
The truck you provide needs to have valid insurance, registration and meets safety standards. For a Class 1 road test, the truck must be:
- a loaded tandem or tridem rear axle tractor trailer combination with air brakes and with an on-road loaded weight of at least 28,000 kg. Semi-trailer must be at least 13 metres long (7.5 metres if pintle hitch trailer).
The truck must have a secure load and not contain any dangerous goods or surpass its weight restrictions. For full details of the truck load requirements, see pages 10-11 of the Driving Commercial Vehicles Handbook. Pages 11-12 deal with the safety standards the vehicle should meet and the gear you should bring to the test. Contact the licensing office to confirm any specifics that may have changed.
There are 3 tests you need to pass to get your full-privileged BC Class 1 driver’s license:
- Air brakes pre-inspection test
- Vehicle pre-trip inspection test
- Road test
Air brakes pre-trip inspection test
If you did the certification air brakes course, this test was built into the course so you don’t have to do it with ICBC. You will already have your air brakes endorsement added to your license.
If you did the standard course, you will have to complete and pass this test to get your air brakes endorsement. If you take it with your vehicle pre-trip inspection and road test, the cost is included in your $60 road test fee. If you do it separately, then it will cost you an extra $20.
All the information you need to pass this test would have been covered in your air brakes course and contained in Chapter 8-10 the Driving Commercial Vehicles Handbook.
If your vehicle is equipped with air brakes with manual slack adjusters you’ll need to perform a brake adjustment as part of the test. Make sure you have the proper tools to carry out this adjustment.
Vehicle pre-trip test inspection test
This is the test you do before getting in the vehicle and start the actual driving road test. It consists of you explaining to your driver examiner in detail what you’re checking and testing in each part of the vehicle.
You’ll be asked when you would typically conduct these tests as a commercial driver. You also need to do a written pre-inspection report. Review Chapter 10 of the Driving Commercial Vehicles Handbook for requirements for the inspection test.
If you fail this test, you can take it again after 7 days. If you pass the road test and fail the pre-inspection test, you only have to take the pre-inspection test again which is $20. This can be expensive though because you need to bring a truck back to do the test again. The cost of the initial vehicle pre-trip inspection test is included in the $60 road test fee.
Class 1 Road Test
The BC Class 1 Road test will examine your ability to drive a tractor-trailer, including coupling and uncoupling the tractor unit from the trailer. You will also be examined on:
- starting and stopping
- shifting gears
- turning, steering, backing up and parking
- merging with highway traffic and exiting from highways, and
- driving in traffic.
If you fail the test you must wait 14 days to try again. If you failed the second time (or any time after that) you have to wait 30 days to do the test again. You will have to pay the full $60 again for each attempt.
If you did some lessons or went to a truck driving school for a course, your instructor will be able to tell you when you are ready to attempt your road test.
Step 7: Apply for your full-privilege BC Class 1 Driver’s License
Did you pass your road tests? You’re almost there! After successfully completing your road tests you have to get a medical examination. The licensing office will give you a form that you take to your doctor to fill out upon examining you. In the meantime, you will be issued a temporary Class 1 driver’s license.
There may be a fee your doctor charges for the exam and completing the report. They will send it directly to Road Safety BC. You have 45 days from the time you receive the form to have it completed and returned to the ICBC. Though they say you only have 45 days, they send out reminders and warning letters that realistically extend this time frame to 90 days or so.
There will be an additional fee for the processing of the medical exam form charged by ICBC of $28. You also need to have your license changed to reflect your Class 1 and air brake endorsement. This fee is $17 or if you are within 6 months of your current license expiring, you can just pay the standard 5 year renewal fee of $75 and they will add your air brakes endorsement along with the Class 1 to your new card for no extra charge.
What Will It Cost to Get Your Class 1 License In BC?
So now you know what the process looks like but how much does it cost to get your Class 1 driver’s license in BC? There will be a number of fees, some ranging in price like deciding which school to attend and the type of training course. Prices like the knowledge and road tests are set by the government.
The below costs are assuming want to do some training to get experience driving a truck before doing your road test.
Class 1 License in BC
Air Brake Endorsement Course $0
Commercial Knowledge Test $15
Air Brakes Knowledge Test $0
Class 1 Learner’s License $0
Class 1 Training Course $3,500
Truck Rental for Pre-Trip Inspection Tests and Road Tests $0
Air Brake Pre-Trip Inspection Test $0
Vehicle Pre-Trip Inspection Test $0
Class 1 Commercial Driving Road Test $60
Medical Processing Fee $28
Medical Examination and Report $75
Full Priveledge BC Class 1 Driver’s License $17
BC Class 1 License Cost Breakdown
Let’s break down the costs of getting your BC Class 1 license in more detail:
- Air Brakes Course – $0
(Typically included in your Class 1 training package. If not, then approximately $150 for the standard course up to $300 for the certified course)
- Commercial Knowledge Test – $15
- Air Brakes Knowledge Test – $0
(Included if writing it at the same time as your Class 1 commercial license knowledge test. If done separately it is $15)
- BC Class 1 Learner’s License Cost – $0
- Class 1 Training Course – $3,500 approximately
(Courses range from 60 hours of in class and on the road training for around $2,500 up to extensive 100+ hours for $7,500-$10,000. Hourly lessons are usually $125 per hour.)
- Truck Rental for Pre-Trip Inspection and Road Tests – $0
(Typically included in your Class 1 training package)
- Air Brake Pre-Trip Inspection Test – $0
(Not required if you have completed a certified air brakes course which most training courses offer with Class 1 programs. If you only did the standard course then the test is $20 or free if done with your other road tests)
- Vehicle Pre-Trip Inspection Test – $0
(Included with the cost of the road test. If you fail, then the cost if $20 to try it again)
- Class 1 Commercial Driving Road Test – $60
(Includes Pre-Trip Inspections tests if done at the same time)
- Medical Processing Fee – $28
- Medical Examination and Report – $75 approximately
(Price is set by your doctor. They can get reimbursed by Road Safety BC for some or all of their costs so they might pass the savings on to you)
- Full Privilege BC Class 1 License Cost: $17
Average cost to get your full privilege BC Class 1 driver’s license is $3,695 for an inexperienced driver doing some training before going for their road test.
Here are some important contacts that will assist you in getting your Class 1 license in BC:
Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)
General Inquiries Phone Numbers:
604-661-2800 – Lower Mainland
1-800-663-3051 – Rest of BC, Canada and US
Hours of Operation are 8:00 am – 6:00 pm Monday to Friday and 9:00 pm – 5:00 pm Saturday.
Driver Licensing Info Line Phone Numbers:
1-800-950-1498 – BC, Canada & US
250-978-8300 – Greater Victoria
250-978-8300 – Other countries (collect calls accepted)
How do I book my Class 1 Road Test in BC?
To book a Class 1 road test in BC you must call one of the following numbers:
604-661-2255 (Metro Vancouver)
1-888-715-7775 (Rest of BC)
Hours of operation are 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.
You cannot book a Class 1 road test in BC online.