13 things to know about bringing your car to BC

Transferring our car from Alberta to BC wasn't hard but there were a few surprises

Moving to BC with your car isn't especially difficult but there were some unexpected differences between Edmonton and the Sunshine Coast. Here are 13 things you should know before moving to BC with your car.

1. Out-of-province inspection

Your vehicle will need to pass an out of province inspection before you’ll be able to register it in BC. If any of the items on the inspection fail, you’ll need to have them repaired or replaced and then have the vehicle re-inspected. Expect to pay between $130 and $200 for the inspection.

2. Replace your windshield

If you have a crack or a chip in your windshield, have it replaced before moving to BC with your car. Our car was in great shape but failed its inspection due to a cracked windshield. We figured we’d chance our cracked windshield and only replace it if it was a sticking point on the inspection. That ended up costing us an extra couple of hundred dollars as the cost to replace a windshield here was about double the cost we were used to in Alberta.

3. See if you need snow tires

From October 1st to April 30th, BC drivers need to have snow tires mounted on their car or truck. This is a rule every where EXCEPT for the Lower Mainland and parts of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. We get this exemption because our weather is mild, and we rarely see snow. However, if you leave this area, you’ll need to follow the same snow tire law as the rest of the province.

4. Front license plate

In BC, you need a license plate on the front and back of our vehicle. If your car doesn’t already have a place to permanently affix a front license plate, get it sorted out BEFORE you relocate between provinces.

5. Will you pay PST on your vehicle?

When you buy a vehicle in BC, new or otherwise, you’ll pay PST. But if you’re moving to BC with your car, you’ll get a one-time exemption PROVIDED that your car or truck isn’t a work vehicle AND you’ve owned it for more than 30 days before moving to BC.

6. Don’t commit insurance fraud

Some people keep their Alberta license, insurance, and registration and lie about where they’re living to get around paying PST. The Insurance Bureau of Canada considers this to be Premeditated Insurance Fraud.

7. BC’s is a “no-fault” province

ICBC is a provincial Crown corporation through which British Columbians MUST buy ICBC Basic Autoplan Insurance. BC drivers can then buy optional insurance products like collision or comprehensive from ICBC or a private insurance company. Starting later in 2021, BC will move to a full “no-fault” insurance model.

8. Driving history

When we first thought about moving to BC, we compared insurance costs between the two provinces and discovered that our rates would drop after the move. It wasn’t until we arrived in BC with our car that we learned that we didn’t receive full credit for our good Alberta driving history.

9. BC insurance rates among Canada’s highest

As of June 2020, British Columbians pay the highest average insurance premiums in Canada. ICBC is promising discounts of up to 20 per cent in 2021 and when you factor in that price drop, BC will drop to the SECOND highest average rate in the country.

10. Accept that BC has public insurance

It doesn’t matter whether the public or private insurance model is superior. If you’re going to be moving to BC with your car, you’ll need to follow BC’s rules. My interactions with ICBC haven’t been any different than my previous dealings with private insurance companies in Alberta, good or bad.

11. Gas is more expensive

Gas is 15 to 20 per cent more expensive on the Sunshine Coast than it is in Alberta. As with insurance, you just need to accept it as there's nothing you can do about it, except maybe buying an electric car. We driver fewer miles than we did in Edmonton and the car idles less in the winter. While we pay more per litre, we use less of it, so our fuel costs are close to what they were in Alberta.

12. You might need to use high octane fuel

Moving to BC with our car means we had to start using higher octane fuel. We avoided this expense in Edmonton because the elevation is higher, and the roads are generally flatter. But living at sea level in Gibsons means stepping up to higher octane to stop our engine from pinging.

13. Updating your driver’s license

After moving to BC, you have 90 days to switch to a BC driver’s license. Your vehicle registration has to change along with your driver’s license.


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