How to Become a Referee

New Officials Information

The Vancouver Female Ice Hockey Association (like many minor hockey associations) hosts a BC Hockey Officiating Clinic for new officials each year at the beginning of the season.  The clinic has classroom and on-ice components to train new officials in the skills and understanding needed to officiate a game. There are three age groups for new officials:

  • Entry:  11 years old (as of 31 December of the current year).
  • Level 1:  12 to 15 year olds (as of 31 December of the current year).
  • Level 2:  those 16 years old, and older (as of 31 December of the current year).

The prerequisite for all new officials to register for the BC Hockey Officiating Clinic is to complete Hockey Canada's Hockey University, which is an online course. Hockey University takes about 3 hours to complete and can be done anytime during the year and can be completed in multiple sessions. It is recommended that you fully complete each module at a time as it tends to “forget” where you stopped part way through a module and, when you return to complete the module, puts you back at the beginning of the incomplete module, which is annoying.  Start the next module just to make sure the app knows that you have completed the previous module.  Please note that it is important to complete the survey at the end in order to be recognized for completing Hockey University.  PLEASE NOTE THAT HOCKEY UNIVERSITY WILL NEED TO BE COMPLETED BEFORE YOU CAN REGISTER FOR THE CERTIFICATION CLINIC.

18 years and older officials (as of 31 December of the current year) must have a valid Criminal Record Check (CRC) prior to registration. NOTE: CRC submissions may take multiple weeks to be verified and updated on your Hockey Canada Profile, so it is advisable to submit your application as soon as possible.

Your first officiating will be reffing U7 and U9 games and lining U11 games.  Whenever possible, you will be with a "Shadow Referee" who will help you maintain the correct position on the ice and make calls (e.g. off-sides and icing). Our organization also provides classroom and on-ice clinics during the season to help you develop your skills and there are quizzes on the Hockey Canada rules.

Returning Officials Information

At the beginning of the hockey season there are BC Hockey Officiating Clinics throughout British Columbia. Returning officials (i.e. not new officials) can attend any of the Level 1 and Level 2 clinics and, if successful completing the clinic, can officiate anywhere in the province until December 31st of the following year . It is important to register as early as possible as the clinics fill up very quickly. In the past there have been clinics in October and November, but it's best not to depend on them happening in the current season. Every year we have people missing out on re-certifying as an official because they are unable to find a clinic to attend due to not registering early in September.

The qualifications attained at the clinics are valid until 31 December of the following year, e.g. if you are "certified" (pass the clinic) in September 2024, you are qualified until 31 December 2025.

Insurance (Participant Assessment Fee)

Hockey Canada Insurance is mandatory for all BC Hockey officials.

Officials who are NOT also registered as a player or team official with a minor hockey association are required to purchase Hockey Canada Insurance. The premium for Hockey Canada Insurance is $53.73 and is payable by adding insurance (also called the Participant Assessment Fee) to the clinic registration fee.

Players and goalies of VFIHA teams are not required to pay the $53.73. The term ‘team official’ includes those who are rostered to a team on the Hockey Canada Registry, this includes Coaches, Assistant Coaches, Managers and Safety People. It does not include any on-ice officials who hold positions within the association such as Referee-in-Chief (unless they were also a team official). These volunteers are required to purchase the Hockey Canada Insurance when they sign up for their annual clinic.

Additional Training

BC Hockey offers Summer Officiating Schools in late July/early August each year at Salmon Arm and Lake Cowichan. These schools are for females and males, from age 12 to 18 (as of 31 December of the current year) and, after successful completion of the Hockey Canada exam at the end of the camp, provide you with the same qualifications to officiate as a standalone BC Hockey Officiating Clinic. Top level refs run these summer schools with training activities such as power skating, positioning on the ice, with recreational activities each day like swimming and mini-golf.

Association Equipment Requirements

Like a player, it is important for an official to wear protective equipment to reduce the chance of getting injured during a game.  The circumstances for injuries often occur unexpectedly and can happen at all levels of hockey games from U7 to U21.  It is a requirement that VFIHA officials are on-ice with the equipment listed below.

  • ACME Thunderer Fingergrip Metal Whistle (only!).  We sell these to new refs at their BC Hockey Officiating Clinic.
  • CSA approved helmet (black in colour & without association or team identification), to which a CSA approved half visor must be securely attached and not altered in any way.  It's highly recommended to get the hockey store to install the visor you buy from them.
  • BNQ certified neck guard
  • Official referee jersey with BC Hockey crest sewn on the front top left.  A Hockey Canada shoulder badge is to be sewn on the top left jersey arm. BC Hockey crest and Hockey Canada shoulder badge are provided at officiating clinics.
  • Elbow pads
  • Black, pressed pants (no stripes, etc)
  • Pelvic protector (Jill) / Athletic support and cup
  • Shin and knee pads
  • Polished hockey skates with clean white laces

In the course of duty as an Official, you shall be neat and clean in appearance and to be properly dressed at all times.


BC Hockey makes a special effort to support young referees. During the hockey season there are opportunities to attend Vancouver Canucks games. There has been many times when our referees have been selected to attend a Vancouver Canucks' game where prior to the game they met the game's NHL referees and linesmen and/or got to be on the ice with the Canucks during the National Anthem.

VFIHA supports our referees with officiating on-ice training clinics and other incentives.

The BC Ministry of Education Recognized Official Programs includes hockey officiating.

How Much Do I Get Paid?

The Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association sets the Expense Allowances for the division and length game.  As a new official you will be reffing U7 & U9 games and lining U11 games.  The current rates are here: PCAHA Referee/Linesperson Expense Allowances. You will receive cash at the end of each game at the time-keepers box.  Please check the money you receive to ensure it is the correct amount.

Other districts in BC may have different expense allowances.  Tournaments generally have a central point for you to collect your money which you need to remember to do before you leave the rink.