In addition to ICBC, public agencies and thousands of private businesses rely on the security features and integrity of the information that appears on our licences and ID cards to confirm your identity. That’s why our ID cards protect you with extensive security features. 

How our cards help protect your identity

Our photo cards meet the highest standards for integrity and security.

EDL front sample
  • Polycarbonate, durable design. You will notice a “tinny” sound if dropped on a hard surface.
  • Raised laser etching of your name on the surface of the card.
  • Additional miniature/micro-printing throughout the face of the card.
  • Fine line background and security spiraling to make photo substitution difficult. (This is why you will find your photograph appears in black and white.)
  • A slightly overlapping signature to make photo substitution difficult.
  • Colours that blend across the front of the card.
  • A ‘ghost’ image with your year of birth on the right-hand side that can be felt by touch.
  • Starting February 2020, cards issued will have the silhouette of a B.C. provincial animal.

Why we collect your personal information

ICBC is committed to respecting both your individual rights and following B.C.’s laws for recording your information. We always strive to give you the best service while balancing these needs.

Your privacy is important to us. We collect your personal information to issue driver licences and BC Services cards and BCID cards. We also use facial recognition software to protect you from fraud and identity theft.

For driver’s licences, the information is used to create and issue licences, keep driving records, and operate driver safety and improvement programs. For BC Services Cards and BCIDs, information is used to create and issue the cards and keep any associated records.

What authorizes ICBC to collect this information?

Driver’s licences

  • The collection of information is authorized by section 25 of the Motor Vehicle Act.

BC Identification Cards

  • The collection of information is authorized by section 3 of the Identification Card Regulation.

BC Services Cards

  • The collection of information is authorized by section 9 of the Identification Card Regulation.

What is facial recognition software?

Facial recognition software is a computer application that automatically identifies or verifies a person from a digital image. Generally speaking, it compares selected facial features from an image with images in a facial database.

Why we use it

ICBC uses facial recognition technology to help protect you from identity theft and fraud. In addition, it is used to compare images to prevent one person from obtaining a driver’s licence or government-issued ID in more than one name.

How facial recognition software works (why you can’t smile!)

Facial recognition technology

We are required by BC’s Motor Vehicle Act to issue our cards with the photo image of the holder. In 2008, we introduced facial recognition technology to enhance the security of your ID and protect you from identity fraud and identity theft. Before a B.C. driver’s licence or BCID card is issued, it will be compared against a database to ensure that nobody else is trying to assume your identity.

To ensure that our facial recognition technology works, we ask that when you get your photo taken, you remove your eyeglasses, non-religious or non-medically required headgear and that you use a neutral expression (sorry, no smiles). You’ll be given a chance to see your photo before you leave our office and if you would like to have it re-taken please ask. We don’t want you to be stuck with a bad photo for five years!

When your photo is entered into the database, the system creates a template and then looks for a match. If it finds one, it refers the possible duplication to an ICBC investigator to determine if the photos are of one person or two.​

Does it really recognize my face?

No. It works by measuring certain facial features. It reduces those measurements to a numeric template or map. The computer doesn’t know your face – it knows your face’s numbers.​

Is it perfect?

No. Two pictures of you, taken years apart, may not result in exactly the same template and two faces may be so similar as to produce a similar template. For that reason, we use investigators to make a final determination.​

Religious expression

ICBC affirms your rights to religious expression. You will not be asked to remove any head covering that does not interfere with facial recognition technology as long as it is worn in conjunction with religious practice, or for hair loss due to medical treatments.  This includes but is not limited to hats, bandanas, head bands, scarves, helmets or other hair accessories that act as a head covering. 

Customers who have their image captured in circumstances where ICBC does not have information that the head covering is worn regularly in public as part of their religious beliefs or due to medical treatment will be sent a letter asking them to return to the office to have their image captured again without any head covering.


If you have any questions on the collection and use of your personal information, please contact us by phone or mail:

Manager, Privacy & FOI department
151 W Esplanade,
North Vancouver, B.C., V7M 3H9