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Comparing Class 3 Automatic & Standard

A class 3 licence will allow drivers to operate a variety of vehicles that have more than two axles, such as dump trucks, large tow trucks, and mobile crane trucks. Whether you’re starting the licensing process and are trying to decide between a class 3 automatic or class 3 standard, or if you are already licensed and not sure where you can go from here, we’re going to be comparing the two licenses for you.

Let’s jump behind the wheel and look at automatic compared to standard licensing, as well as what you can drive with each licence!

Class 3 Automatic and Standard Licences

A class 3 standard licence, also known as a class 3 manual or class 3 unrestricted, allows you to drive both manual and automatic class 3 vehicles. It requires you to learn how to operate a manual transmission, which can take some practice to master, as well as road test in a class 3 standard vehicle. Having a class 3 standard licence does have the potential for more job opportunities, as many employers will prefer an employee that can drive their entire fleet as opposed to a driver that is restricted to only one type of transmission.

A class 3 automatic, or restricted, licence allows you to only drive automatic class 3 vehicles. It is easier to obtain because drivers don't need to learn how to operate a manual transmission. If you prefer a simpler driving experience or find shifting gears difficult, an automatic licence may be a better option for you. If you opt for the class 3 automatic licence and then later decide to upgrade to a class 3 standard, drivers will need to go through the licensing process once again. This will entail going to ICBC and successfully completing a road signs knowledge test, then obtaining a learner’s licence, and successfully passing an ICBC class 3 road test.

Drivers that hold a class 3 licence, standard or automatic, are able to pull trailers or towed vehicles as long as they do not exceed 4600 kg. Drivers would be able to exceed 4600 kg as long as neither the truck or trailer had an air brake equipped system. Any driver wanting to pull a trailer or towed vehicle that does exceed 4600 kg and has an air brake equipped system would need to hold a class 1 licence instead of a class 3 licence.

The licence that you end up with after the ICBC road test is determined by the type of vehicle you use to complete the road test itself. If you road test with a standard transmission, you will receive a full class 3 licence. If you road test with an automatic transmission, you will receive a restricted class 3 licence.

Class 3 Automatic and Standard Vehicles

Many class 3 vehicle types can be found in either automatic or standard, increasing the employment opportunities for drivers with either class 3 licence. Vehicles you can drive with a class 3 licence include dump trucks (no trailer), cement mixer trucks, and heavy-duty tow trucks. Class 3 licence holders can also drive fire trucks, garbage and recycling trucks, mobile crane trucks, and semi-trucks (no trailer).

Automatic vehicles often tend to be more specialized, like fire trucks are typically only class 3 automatic transmission vehicles, so unless you’re going into a field where you know exactly what you’re going to drive, we recommend getting the class 3 standard licence.


The final decision for choosing between a class 3 automatic licence or a class 3 standard licence will depend on what you want to drive and what career path you choose! If you’re unsure of where a new licence will take you, opting for a class 3 standard licence may be the best choice, since it won’t hold the same restrictions like the class 3 automatic licence might.

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