Country guides North America
Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs and a plug with a third round grounding pin are standard.
The official languages are English and French (spoken predominantly in Quebec).
The currency used is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). Banks and bureaux de change will change cash, as will some hotels. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are widespread. US Dollars are widely accepted.
There is no service charge added to restaurant bills in Canada and staff expect a tip of around 15 percent. Hairdressers and taxi drivers are also usually tipped at the same rate, while bellhops, doormen, porters, and similar service providers at hotels, airports, and stations are generally paid at the customer's discretion. It has become more common for places with counter service to display tip jars, but in such cases tipping is not necessary.
No vaccinations are necessary for travel to Canada. Medical care is excellent but expensive, so medical insurance is advised.
Most visits to Canada are trouble-free. The country is politically stable but does share the common international risk of terrorism. The crime rate is low but travellers are advised to take sensible precautions to safeguard their belongings, as they would anywhere. Canada is prone to tornadoes between May and September.
Smoking bans have been implemented in Canada in enclosed public places such as restaurants, bars, and shopping malls.
Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal are the main business centres. English is the language of business except in French-speaking Quebec, where all written material and business cards should be in French. Business cards are not traditionally exchanged during an initial meeting, but at some appropriate time thereafter; it is best to wait for the host to offer theirs first.
A firm handshake is used by way of greeting, and meetings tend to begin on time so punctuality should be taken seriously, as should appearance. Canadians dress conservatively and smartly for business meetings and suits are the norm. Gifts can be given in conclusion to celebrate a deal, but should be understated; taking someone out for a meal is a popular way to conclude business dealings.
Canadians are reserved and frown on emotional outbursts. Business is based on facts and figures rather than relationships, so it is best to be as prepared as possible for meetings. Hours of business are usually 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Travellers to Canada are allowed to enter the country with the following items without incurring custom duties: gifts to the value of C$60 per recipient (excluding advertising material, tobacco and alcoholic beverages); 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or cigarillos and 200g of tobacco or 200 tobacco sticks; 1.14 litres of liquor or wine or 24 x 355ml bottles or cans of beer or ale. There are strict regulations governing the import of the following: explosives, endangered animal and plant species, items of heritage, fresh foodstuffs and weapons. The plant Qhat (Khat) is illegal in Canada and prison sentences are heavy.
The international access code for Canada is +1. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code. The outgoing code is not necessary for calls to the US and the Caribbean. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widely available. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.
Passport & Visa
All visitors must hold a valid passport. We recommend that passports always be valid for six months after intended period of travel. Visitors are required to hold onward or return tickets, all documents needed for the next destination and sufficient funds to cover the period of intended stay.
Travellers from most visa-exempt countries arriving in Canada by air need to fill in an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) form online prior to travel to Canada. This is a new requirement implemented on 28 September 2016 and is applicable to all but U.S citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers travelling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel documents to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities.
US travellers should have a valid passport if departing from the USA, otherwise other proof of citizenship is accepted in the form of a birth certificate, a US certificate of citizenship, or US certificate of naturalisation. More suggestions would include a NEXUS card. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six months.
UK nationals must have a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six months. However, the individual must have Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
Australians must hold passports valid for period of intended stay. Nationals of Australia with an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) are visa exempt for a maximum stay of 6 months.
South African nationals must be in possession of a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is required. South African temporary passports are not recognised. Passports, identity or travel documents of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda are not accepted.
Irish nationals must hold a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to six months. However, the individual must have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
New Zealanders require a passport valid for the period of the intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 6 months. However, the traveller requires an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
Canadian Tourism Commission, Vancouver: +1 604 638 8300 or www.travelcanada.ca911 (all emergencies)
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Canadian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 682 1740.
Canadian High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7258 6600.
Canadian High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6270-4000.
Canadian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 422 3000.
Canadian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 234 4000.
Canadian High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 9577.
Embassies / consulates in Canada
United States Embassy, Ottawa: +1 613 688 5335.
British High Commission, Ottawa: +1 613 237 1530.
Australian High Commission, Ottawa: +1 613 236 0841.
South African High Commission, Ottawa: +1 613 744 0330.
Irish Embassy, Ottawa: +1 613 233 6281.
New Zealand High Commission, Ottawa: +1 613 238 5991.