Practical info

 

Money
The Canadian dollar (C$) is the currency of Canada. One dollar equals 100 cents.
The most frequently used coins are: 5¢ (“nickel”), 10¢ (“dime”), 25¢ (“quarter”), $1 (“loonie”) and $2 (“toonie”). The most frequently used banknotes are: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
To see current exchange rates between your home country’s currency and the Canadian dollar, please visit www.xe.com.
Health Care
While coverage is mandatory in Canada, the exact type of health/dental insurance you need differs depending on if your stay is longer or shorter than six months.

If you are staying for less than six months, you need:
1. Private insurance to cover you for the length of your stay in Canada.

If you are staying for longer than six months, you need:
1. Private basic insurance to cover you for the first three months of your stay.
2. At the end of this three-month period, you need to enrol in the the basic Medical Services Plan (MSP) and pay the monthly premiums.

Depending on your institution, you may or may not be required to purchase extended health care/dental insurance. Extended insurance plans help to cover the cost of prescription medicine, dental care, vision care, and travel insurance.

Since healthcare provision and plans can differ depending on your institution and length of stay (for example, in some cases, the student is required to enroll in the institution’s private health insurance plan), it is best to contact the International Student Office at your institution.

Transportation
At almost 370,000 square miles, Canada’s westernmost province is almost four times the size of the United Kingdom and only slightly smaller than France and Spain combined. Aside from a car, the most commonly-used methods of transportation are:

Plane: Probably the most efficient way to get around the province. Air Canada is the largest and most recognized airline in the country. Another option is Westjet, Canada’s second largest airline. Most flights within the province are from or via Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Coach: For schedule and fares, please check www.greyhound.ca.

If you’re staying in Vancouver and considering a cross-border hop to the US, there are shuttle bus options.

Ferry: Enjoy amazing views from the top deck of a BC ferry. Visit www.bcferries.com for further details.

Train: Although a bit pricier than other options, travelling by train is a great way to comfortably travel to some lovely cities in BC, other Canadian provinces and even the United States.

  • VIA Rail: the largest railway network in the country
  • Rocky Mountaineer: offers train services between Vancouver, Whistler, Jasper, Banff National Parks
  • Amtrak: train routes available between BC and the US
Travelling around BC
Travelling around British Columbia is fairly easy. BC’s transportation system is dependable and accessible in almost all major areas (i.e. main cities and regions) of BC.

Calculate the distance between BC cities and towns
Planning on driving to a particular BC city or town? Use the distance calculator to provide you with a rough idea of how long it will take.

Plan your trip on B.C. Ferries
Check the ferry schedules for coastal British Columbia.

Canada Border Traffic
Find out the waiting time at the borders; this is especially important if you are thinking about heading over to the US for an excursion!

Explore BC Parks
Explore BC’s outdoor beauty: an adventure awaits you at BC Parks.

Weather
Check out the forecast for communities and regions around British Columbia.

Road Reports
Check real-time conditions of BC highways.

Driving in BC
As long as you hold a valid driver’s licence from your home jurisdiction, you can drive in BC for up to six months from the last time you crossed the border.

If your licence is not in English, you should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) or at least a language translation of your driver’s licence from an ICBC Approved Translator. The IDP or translated driver’s licence will assist police should you get stopped while driving.

Going to the United States
When travelling to the United States, ensure that you have all the necessary documents (passport, visa, return ticket, student ID, etc.). Depending on your nationality, US authorities may require you to apply for a visitor’s visa to enter the country. Equally important, you should check that your Canadian permit will allow you to re-enter Canada. To verify that you meet all the requirements to satisfy both Canadian and American border controls, please check first with your institution’s Student Services department.