British Columbia offers many job opportunities for those who want to get their BC class 3 license. With a BC Class 3 license you have the ability to drive a wide range of commercial vehicles. The cost of a Class 3 license is less than a Class 1 license too. In this summary we will go over:

Let’s show you how to get your Class 3 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 BC Class 3 License will give many 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 BC Class 3 License

The BC Class 3 license is a commercial driver’s license that allows you to drive:

  • trucks with more than two axles, such as dump trucks and large tow trucks but does not allow driving a bus carrying passengers
  • a tow car towing a vehicle of any weight
  • a mobile truck crane
  • any vehicle in Class 5

You cannot drive motorcycles with a Class 3 license. You also can’t operate a trailer with air brakes, even if you have your air brake endorsement. 

What kind of vehicles can you drive with a Class 3 License?

With your BC Class 3 License you can drive almost any type of motor vehicles. Examples of types of vehicles you can drive with a BC Class 3 license are:

  • large straight body trucks like a flatbed or cube 
  • dump trucks
  • mixer trucks
  • blower or vaccum trucks
  • picker trucks
  • roll-off or lift trucks
  • crane or boom trucks
  • large tow trucks
bc class 3 license dump 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 BC 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 1 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 1 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 licence. As a truck driver going for their Class 3 licence in BC, you may want to consider getting an air brakes endorsement on your BC driver’s licence. 

Many heavy commercial trucks have air brakes so it would expand your career options if you had the endorsement. It is not a requirement to get your air brakes endorsement for your Class 3 licence but the process isn’t too hard or expensive and we recommend it. 

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 3 License in BC:

Step 1: Minimum Requirements

You have to be at least 18 years old to get a BC Class 3 License. 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 3 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 3 Learner’s License at the licensing office. 

If you meet these requirements, you are ready to being your journey to get your BC Class 3 license.  

Step 2: Complete your air brake course (optional)

If you are driving any truck equipped with air brakes you will need to get an air brakes endorsement (Code 15) on your license. You can not tow a trailer with air brakes on it with a Class 3 license. 

An air brakes endorsement is not a requirement for your Class 3 license but many large trucks are equipped with air brakes. We strongly recommend getting this endorsement while you are obtaining your Class 3 license because it will expand the types of Class 3 vehicles you can drive and open more driving opportunities up to you. 

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 3 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 (Step 5), 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

If you decided to complete an air brakes course, you should do the knowledge test at the same time as your Class 3 knowledge test. If you didn’t then you will only have one commercial license knowledge test to do for your Class 3. 

You will need to review the Driving Commercial Vehicles Handbook to prepare for your test, which is available to read or download online. 

If you are just doing your Class 3 knowledge test you need to review all the chapters except chapters 6, 8, 9 and 12. Chapter 6 goes over buses, taxis and limos so you don’t need to read that part because you won’t be tested on it. 

If you are are going to write your air brakes knowledge test too, then you have to review chapters 8 and 9. You can skip chapter 12 all together because it is for industrial air brakes. There is a license study chart on page 2 of the handbook to help guide you. 

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 BC Class 3 License Learner’s License

You will need to attend an ICBC licensing office to apply for your Class 3 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

Knowledge Tests

At the ICBC licensing office you will be asked to complete the commercial license knowledge test. If you want to get your air brakes endorsement you should be prepared to do that test too. 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.

Air Breaks Knowledge Test

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 3 license at the end of the process. 

If you did the standard air brake 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 3 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 3 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:

  • Ability to read from a distance (visual acuity)
  • The 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 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. 

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 3 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 3 license in BC. If you haven’t had experience driving a truck before, we recommend taking some lessons or attending a driving school for some training. 

Getting some instruction will prepare you to pass the road tests easily and hopefully on the first attempt. A training program from a reputable school also looks great on your resume if you are just starting out. 

bc class 3 license road test traffic cones

Some schools will offer courses for either manual or automatic transmissions. Take the manual transmission course! You don’t want to show up your first day on the job only to find out the truck they want you to drive is a stick shift. 

Many schools offer an air brakes course with some of their training programs. An air brakes endorsement is a valuable asset as we have discussed. Some schools offer extensive in class training, workplace skills and on the road training while others have short programs with just driving lessons. Make sure to shop around. 

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. 

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 3 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.

Step 6: BC Class 3 License 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. 

The Truck

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 3 road test, the truck must be: 

  • a large tandem or tridem rear axle truck such as a moving van or dump truck.

Pages 11-12 of the Driving Commercial Vehicles Handbook 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. 

The Tests

The tests you need to pass to get your full-privileged BC Class 3 driver’s license are:

  • Air brakes pre-inspection test*
  • Vehicle pre-trip inspection test
  • Road test

Air brakes pre-trip inspection test*

Perhaps you decided to skip the air brakes endorsement part of the licensing process. If so, you can proceed on to the vehicle pre-trip inspection test. Also, 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 air brake course, you will have to complete and pass this test to get your air brakes endorsement. You can take it with your vehicle pre-trip inspection and road test and the cost will be 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 on 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 3 Road Test

The BC Class 3 Road test will examine your ability to drive a drive a large truck on the road safely. 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 3 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 3 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. 

bc class 3 license truck-driver-meme

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 3 and hopefully your 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 3 to your new card for no extra charge. 

BC Class 3 License Costs

So now you know what the process looks like but how much does it cost to get your Class 3 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 you want to do some training to get experience driving a truck before doing your road test. We also included the costs for the air brakes endorsement because, well, we think it’s worth it and relatively inexpensive. Although it is a bit more expensive to practice on a truck with a manual transmission, the investment will save you the headache later so we based our estimates off those courses.

Average Cost With Training

$1,695.00

Air Brake Endorsement Course $0

Class 3 Knowledge Test $15

Air Brakes Knowledge Test $0

Class 3 Learner’s License $0

Class 3 Training Course $1,500

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 3 Commercial Driving Road Test $60

Medical Processing Fee $28

Medical Examination and Report $75

Full Privilege BC Class 3 Driver’s License $17

BC Class 3 License Cost Breakdown

Let’s break down the costs of getting your BC Class 3 license in more detail:

  • Air Brakes Course – $0 
    (Typically included in your Class 3 training package. If not, then approximately $150 for the standard course up to $300 for the certified course. Remember, this is not required but recommended for your Class 3 license)
  • Class 3 Knowledge Test – $15
  • Air Brakes Knowledge Test – $0
    (Included if writing it at the same time as your Class 3 commercial license knowledge test. If done separately it is $15)
  • Class 3 Training Course – $1,500 approximately 
    (Hourly lessons are usually $125 per hour. Courses range from 36 hours of in class and on the road training for around $1,500 up to more in depth programs for $3,000 with 60 hours of training)
  • Truck Rental for Pre-Trip Inspection and Road Tests – $0
  • 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 3 training. If you only did the standard air brakes course then the test is $20 or free if done with your other road tests)
  • Class 3 Commercial Driving Road Test – $60 
    (Includes Pre-Trip Inspections tests if done at the same time)
  • Medical Processing Fee – $28
    (Charged by the ICBC)
  • 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 3 License Cost: $17

The average cost to get your full privilege BC Class 3 driver’s license is $1,695 if you do some training on a truck with a manual transmission that includes the certified air brake course and truck rental for the road test. 

BC Class 3 License Practice Tests

Here are some practice tests you can use to help prepare you for your knowledge tests.

Contacts

Here are some important contacts that will assist you in getting your Class 3 license in BC:

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)

Website: https://www.icbc.com

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 3 Road Test in BC?

To book a Class 3 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 3 road test in BC online.

Forms

Sample copy of the Driver’s Medical Examination Form

Resources

Commercial Drivers’ Fitness Requirements Fact Sheet

Commercial License Upgrade Requirements

Driving Commercial Vehicles Handbook

Find a Driver Licensing Office Near You

Find an Driving School

ICBC Licensing and Test Fees

Learn to Drive Smart Handbook 

Take the Road Signs Knowledge Practice Test


About The Author: Commercial Driver HQ

Commercial Driver HQ strives to provide you with quality information about driving for a living. Whether you’re an Uber driver or a long haul trucker, we are here to help you succeed!

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Summary
A BC Class 3 License Guide to Air Brakes, Road Tests, and Training
Article Name
A BC Class 3 License Guide to Air Brakes, Road Tests, and Training
Description
Air Brakes, Road Tests, and Practice tests to help you get your BC class 3 license. Everything you need to meet the ICBC requirements for commercial drivers
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Commercial Driver HQ
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