Electricity

Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs and a plug with a third round grounding pin are standard.

Language

The official languages are English and French (spoken predominantly in Quebec).

Money

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.

Tipping

A tip of around 15 percent is standard in restaurants, and hairdressers and taxi drivers are usually tipped at the same rate. Bellhops, doormen, porters, and similar service providers at hotels, airports, and stations are generally paid at the customer's discretion.

Health

Travellers should be up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before traveling to Canada, and should consider taking routine vaccines as a standard precaution. Medical care is excellent but expensive, so medical insurance is advised.

Safety

While most visits to Canada are trouble-free, the country 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. Parts of Canada are prone to tornadoes between May and September.

Local customs

Rowdiness and loud speech are inappropriate except under special circumstances or in places such as bars, as Canadians tend to be soft spoken, patient and almost apologetic in their public behaviour. They are generally tolerant of the complex network of cultural differences in public behaviour, particularly in cities where such diversity is more common place. Recreational cannabis is legally available throughout Canada, though local laws can vary depending on the province or territory travellers are visiting.

Doing business

Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal are the main business centres, and 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 punctuality should be taken seriously for meetings. Canadians dress conservatively and smartly for business 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.

Duty free

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.

Communications

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, and it's recommended that passports always be valid for six months after the 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 Authorisation (eTA) form online prior to visiting Canada. This requirement 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.

Entry requirements

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, though UK travellers must have Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA).

Australians must hold passports valid for period of intended stay. Nationals of Australia with an Electronic Travel Authorisation (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 Authorisation (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 Authorisation (eTA).

Useful contacts

Canadian Tourism Commission, Vancouver: +1 604 638 8300 or www.travelcanada.ca

911 (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.