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Latest travel advice for Canada including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-02-28T15:45:57.856+00:00: Latest update: Summary – removal of information and advice on the Davies Cup held in February 2017

Visitors travelling to Canada by air are now expected to get an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) to enter Canada. For more information about the eTA system, and to apply online, visit the official Canadian government website. See Entry requirements

If you’re visiting Canada you’ll need an eTA to board your flight unless you’re otherwise exempted (for example, if you have a valid Canadian visa or a permanent resident card). If you have British-Canadian dual nationality you won’t be able to apply for an eTA and you’ll need to present a valid Canadian passport to board your flight to Canada.

There is a general threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

Severe snow storms are a regular occurrence during winter. Monitor local news and weather reports and visit Environment Canada. See Local Travel and Natural Disasters

Around 724,000 British nationals visit Canada each year. Most visits are trouble free.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty crime. Don’t leave your handbag or luggage unattended. Thieves often target tourist hotels. Keep valuables including your passport in a hotel safe. Leave copies of important documents with family and friends in the UK. Carry a photocopy of your passport for ID. Keep luggage out of sight in cars.

If you need the police, call 911 or 0 and ask the operator to connect you. There is no charge for emergency calls placed from a public pay phone. If you lose your passport, contact the British High Commission or Consulate immediately.

Road travel

Each province and territory has the authority to establish its own traffic and safety laws.

Seat belts are compulsory. Right turns on red lights are generally allowed, but at some junctions in towns and cities, you can only turn right on a green light. In some parts of Quebec, right turns on red lights are not allowed.

You can hire and drive a car in Canada using a full UK driving licence. You don’t need an International Driving Permit. Carry your licence with you at all times.

Take out full insurance cover if you hire a vehicle.

Obey speed limits and take extra care when travelling on country roads. Watch out for wild animals.

Winter driving conditions can be extreme. Monitor local news and weather broadcasts and take advice before driving in winter. Snow tyres are required in some provinces.

For detailed information on road conditions throughout Canada and safety tips, see the Government of Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association and the Travel Canada websites.

Air travel

Check with your airline and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority for information on screening procedures and prohibited/restricted items on board an aircraft.

Wildlife

If you are hiking or camping, be considerate and cautious of local wildlife. Take all rubbish with you, and treat any food items with great care to avoid attracting animals to your site. Animals with nearby young or nests will be particularly aggressive when protecting their territory. Research the region and learn how best to deal with the local wildlife you might encounter. Take particular care if you’re touring an area where bears have been sighted. Keep a safe and legal distance from any wildlife including marine animals and birds and closely follow park regulations.

Terrorism

There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. You should monitor media reports and remain vigilant.

On 29 January 2017 a shooting at a Quebec City mosque left 6 dead and 19 wounded. Police have arrested and charged the suspected gunman who is believed to have acted alone.

On 22 October 2014, a Canadian soldier was killed by a gunman in central Ottawa. The suspect was subsequently shot dead. On 20 October 2014, a man was shot dead by police in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec after he struck two Canadian soldiers with his car. One of the soldiers was fatally injured.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British Citizens don’t usually need a visa to visit Canada for short periods, but you’ll need to get an Electronic Travel Authorisation before you travel (see below). If you have a different type of British nationality or intend to travel for a longer period, check entry requirements with the Canadian High Commission. When you arrive you will need to be able to show that you have enough funds available to support yourself during your stay, even if you’re staying with family and friends.

If you have any doubts about whether you’re eligible to enter Canada (eg if you have a criminal record or have been arrested even if it did not result in a conviction), or about visa matters generally, contact the Canadian High Commission before you travel.

Some unauthorised websites charge for submitting visa applications. These websites are not endorsed by or associated with the Canadian government. Be wary of such sites and businesses, particularly those that seek additional fees.

Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA)

Visitors travelling to Canada by air are now expected to get an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) to enter Canada.

If you’re visiting Canada you’ll need an eTA to board your flight unless you’re otherwise exempted (for example, if you have a valid Canadian visa or a permanent resident card). If you have British-Canadian dual nationality you won’t be able to apply for an eTA and you’ll need to present a valid Canadian passport to board your flight to Canada.

If you’re travelling by land or sea, you won’t need an eTA when you enter Canada. However, you must travel with acceptable travel documents and identification.

For more information about the eTA system, and to apply online, visit the official Canadian government website.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required, but if your passport has less than 6 months validity remaining when you arrive in Canada it may take longer to pass through immigration control.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Canada. You can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation using an ETD.

Travelling with children

If you are travelling with children, and only one parent is present, you should carry a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent. Immigration officers have the right to question children using simple and appropriate language to establish whether there are any concerns about child abduction. A letter of consent may help to dispel potential concerns. For further information check with the Canadian High Commission or the Canada Border Services Agency.

Travelling to the United States

If you intend to travel on to the United States you should check the entry requirements of the US authorities (see the US section of the FCO’s Travel Advice.)

Travellers who have been admitted to the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme and make a short trip to Canada are usually readmitted to the United States under the VWP as long as they still meet the requirements. Granting entry under the VWP is a matter for the US authorities. You can check the US entry requirements on the website of the US Customs and Border Protection.

Local laws and customs

Don’t attempt to bring meat, animal or dairy products into Canada at any time without declaring them to the customs authorities. Banned food products will be confiscated and you could be fined. For more information see the website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

You must declare any visit to a farm within 14 days of arrival.

Local laws can vary depending on the province or territory you are visiting.  

For more information on customs regulations in Canada visit the website of the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

The cost of medical treatment can be very expensive and there are no special arrangements for British visitors. For emergency health care you can go to a hospital’s emergency room or to a large number of walk-in clinics where an appointment is not required beforehand.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you have dual British-Canadian citizenship you may still have to pay for medical treatment if you don’t meet provincial residency requirements for health care. Check with the relevant province or territory for more information.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Hurricanes

From July to November coastal areas are sometimes affected by hurricanes. For the latest weather conditions and hurricane activity check the National Hurricane Centre, Environment Canada and The Weather Network websites. See Tropical cyclones.

Winter conditions

During the winter, highways are often closed in Alberta, British Columbia and other Provinces because of snow storms and avalanches. You can check local weather conditions on The Weather Network website.

Even when roads remain open during a winter storm, driving conditions may still be treacherous. Take care, follow any local restrictions or guidelines, and make sure your vehicle has snow tyres and emergency supplies.

Avalanches

Avalanches can occur in mountainous regions, especially in Alberta and British Columbia. Always comply with avalanche advisories and stay away from closed trails. Follow the directions of local nature guides or instructors. For more information and updated avalanche bulletins visit the Canadian Avalanche Foundation.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

British Columbia and Yukon are located in an active earthquake zone with the coast of British Columbia being most at risk from a major earthquake. Parts of the British Columbia coastline are also at risk from tsunamis. For up to date information please visit Earthquakes Canada and West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center websites.

You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of either of an earthquake or tsunami. Further information on emergency preparedness can be found on the Government of Canada’s ‘Get Prepared’ website.

Thunderstorms

Summer thunderstorms are fairly frequent in most parts of Canada. A small number of these intensify causing property damage, and threatening lives.

Tornadoes

Tornadoes can occur almost anywhere in Canada. May to September are the main tornado months with the peak season in June and early July in southern Ontario, Alberta, south eastern Quebec, and a band stretching from southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba through to Thunder Bay. The interior of British Columbia and western New Brunswick may also experience tornadoes. Monitor local and international weather updates on television and radio and follow any instructions from Canadian officials or law enforcement personnel. You can also find updates on the National Hurricane Centre website.

Forest fires

Forest fires can break out at anytime, regardless of the season. In the grasslands and forests of western Canada the fire hazard is higher. Generally Canada has cold dry winters and warm dry summers. Follow any local warnings and monitor news bulletins for latest details on outbreaks.

For more information visit the Environment Canada website.

Arctic travel

Large numbers of British nationals travel successfully and safely in and around the Arctic each year. The Arctic is, however, a vast region, comprising the northerly areas of Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Alaska (United States). In addition to reading the specific travel advice for each of these countries, prospective visitors to the Arctic should also consider carefully the potential remoteness of certain destinations from search and rescue, evacuation and medical facilities. Independent travellers are particularly advised to develop contingency arrangements for emergency back-up.

The most popular way of visiting the Arctic is by ship. As some areas of the Arctic -specifically the more northerly and remote regions - can be uncharted and ice-covered, you should check the previous operational experience of cruise and other operators offering travel in the region. You should also consider the on-board medical facilities of cruise ships and talk to cruise operators as appropriate, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

The eight Arctic States take their international search and rescue obligations very seriously, and have recently signed a binding agreement on search and rescue co-operation in the Arctic. However, in the highest latitude regions of the Arctic, cruise ships may be operating in relative isolation from other vessels and/or inhabited areas. You should be aware that in these regions, search and rescue response will often need to be despatched from many hundreds of miles away, and assistance to stranded vessels may take several days to arrive, particularly in bad weather. Search and rescue assets are also likely to offer only basic transport and basic medical care, and are unlikely to be capable of advanced life-support. Responsible cruise operators should happily provide additional information relevant to the circumstances of the cruise they are offering, and address any concerns you may have.

Consular assistance and support to British nationals in the Arctic will be affected by the capacity of national and local authorities. You should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment or potential repatriation.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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Select a country below:

  • British High Commission Ottawa

    Title:British High Commission Ottawa
    Email:ukincanada@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    80 Elgin Street
    Ottawa Ontario K1P 5K7
    Canada

    Contact: Telephone:: +1 613 237 1530
    Visiting:
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
  • Department for International Trade Canada

    Title:Department for International Trade (DIT) Toronto
    Email:maria.diakos@mobile.trade.gov.uk
    Address:

    777 Bay Street, Suite 2800
    Toronto Ontario M5G 2G2
    Canada

    Contact: Investment enquiries: +1 416 593 1290 extension 2254
    Trade enquiries: +1 416 593 1290 extension 2259
    Visiting:Opening hours:
    Monday to Friday 9:00am to 2:30pm
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
  • UK Science and Innovation Network in Canada

    Title:Science and Innovation Network, Ottawa
    Email:kendra.sakaguchi@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Kendra Sakaguchi
    80 Elgin Street
    Ottawa Ontario K1P 5K7
    Canada

    Contact: Office: +1 613 364 6147
    Visiting:Geographic coverage: National Capital Region
    Services:
  • British Consulate-General Calgary

    Title:British Consulate-General Calgary
    Email:ukincanada@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    5100-150 6 Ave SW
    Calgary Alberta T2P 3Y7
    Canada

    Contact: Telephone: +1 403 705 1755
    Emergency assistance for British nationals: +1 403 538 2181
    Visiting:
    Services:
  • British Consulate-General Montreal

    Title:British Consulate-General Montreal
    Email:ukincanada@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    2000 McGill College Avenue
    Suite 1940
    Montreal Quebec H3A 3H3
    Canada

    Contact: Telephone: +1 514 866 5863
    Visiting:
    Services:
  • British Consulate-General Vancouver

    Title:British Consulate-General Vancouver
    Email:ukincanada@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    1111 Melville Street, Suite 800
    Vancouver British Columbia V6E 3V6
    Canada

    Contact: Telephone: +1 604 683 4421
    Visiting:
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
  • British Consulate-General Toronto

    Title:British Consulate-General Toronto
    Email:ukincanada@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    777 Bay Street, Suite 2800
    Toronto Ontario M5G 2G2
    Canada

    Contact: Telephone: +1 416 593 1290
    Facsimile: +1 416 593 1229
    Visiting:Public access is by appointment only.
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)

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