• Travel Advice

DFAT advice for Canada

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When travelling to Canada, you should always get travel insurance in case the worst happens. To help you ensure you travel safely, we have included the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Canada.

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 04 April 2014.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. The overall level of the advice has not changed.

Canada overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • You should be aware that you may be required to pay in full at the time of service for Canadian health services as there is no reciprocal healthcare agreement in place between Australia and Canada. Travel insurance is strongly recommended, including for dual Australian-Canadian citizens who may not be eligible for free Canadian healthcare due to provincial residential requirements.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Map of Canada ( This map is presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature.  Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy. )

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Canadian Embassy or Consulate for the most up to date information. Information is also available from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) .

If you are travelling to Canada through the United States of America (USA), or if you are transiting Honolulu or another USA point of entry, you are required to meet USA entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check with your nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States regarding your visa requirements well in advance of your travel. You will also find information on US entry and exit requirements in our travel advice for the United States of America .

We advise children travelling alone or with only one parent to carry a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent(s). The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) may question you or the child regarding the child’s status and supporting documentation may be beneficial. More information is available at the CBSA website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Canada. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers .

Crime

The crime rate in Canada is similar to that in Australia. Crime is more likely in large cities.

Petty crime such as pick pocketing and street theft can occur at tourist destinations, hotels and on public transport.

Theft from unattended vehicles is common in some places in Canada, particularly Montreal.

Canadian emergency services can be reached by dialling 911.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency is not accepted in Canada and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many places. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering and theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority .

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Local traffic and safety laws are determined by provincial governments and may differ slightly between provinces.

The British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure provides links to provincial road condition websites . Transport Canada provides detailed information on road conditions across Canada and the Canadian Automobile Association provides tips for winter driving. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Environment Canada provides detailed information on weather conditions across Canada.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information on air travel.

Laws

When you are in Canada, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter .

Australians visiting Canada for the purposes of commissioning commercial surrogacy arrangements should seek independent legal advice before doing so. You should see our Overseas births, adoptions and surrogacies page for further information.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Health

The standard of health facilities in Canada is comparable with that in Australia but the provincially run health care systems are not easily accessible to temporary visitors. Many physicians will not take new patients, however walk-in medical clinics are available throughout major cities. Visitors who seek medical attention in Canada should be prepared to pay in full at the time the service is provided. This includes dual nationals who may not be eligible for free Canadian healthcare due to provincial residential requirements. There is no reciprocal health care agreement in place between Australia and Canada.

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Where to get help

In Canada, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian High Commission, Ottawa

Suite 710, 50 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L2 CANADA
Telephone +1 (613) 236 0841
Facsimile +1 (613) 786 7621
Website http://www.canada.embassy.gov.au

Australian Consulate General, Toronto

Suite 1100, South Tower
175 Bloor Street East
Toronto, Ontario M4W 3R8 CANADA
Telephone +1 416 323 4280
Facsimile +1 416 323 4295

Australian Consulate, Vancouver

Suite 2050, 1075 West Georgia Street
Vancouver B.C. V6E 3C9 CANADA
Telephone +1 604 694 6160
Facsimile +1 604 684 1856

If you are travelling to Canada, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register on-line or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate . The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

During winter, heavy snowfalls and ice bring severe cold. The wind-chill factor can also create dangerously cold outdoor conditions beyond the thermometer reading.

Some mountainous areas of Alberta and British Columbia are subject to winter avalanches. Skiing, snowboarding and riding skidoos (snow mobiles) on closed trails is unsafe and should not be undertaken. Information on avalanches is available from the Canadian Avalanche Association .

During summer, temperatures in many parts of Canada can reach more than 30 degrees Celsius. Many areas experiences humid air that can make the temperature feel as much as 10-15 degrees higher. These conditions can create the potential for tornadoes, especially across the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Forest fires can occur in Canada during the warmer months (June - August). Check local media before visiting forested areas and follow the advice of local authorities.

The province of British Columbia in western Canada is in an active earthquake zone. Although less frequently, earthquakes have also occurred in Quebec and Ontario, in eastern Canada. Information on earthquakes is available from Earthquakes Canada .

Hurricanes can occur in the Atlantic Provinces from June to November and tornadoes occur in some areas of Canada between April and September. Environment Canada and the US National Hurricane Centre provide information on hurricanes and tornados. In the event of a hurricane or tornado you should monitor local television and radio for up to date information on procedures to be followed.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure .

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. The Government of Canada's 'Get Prepared' website provides information on natural hazards in Canada and advice on how to be prepared.

Wildlife

Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.

Beware of bears in forested areas and obtain local advice before setting out on hikes in areas inhabited by bears.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.

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