International Visitors to Canada

International visitors to Canada (not US citizens or US permanent residents) must carry a valid passport and, if required, a visa. Citizens from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and some other countries do not require a visa to enter Canada. Visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for a complete list of countries whose citizens require visas to enter Canada.

All other visitors should contact their Canadian embassy or consulate to learn what documents are required. Contact information for Canadian embassies around the world can be found at the Foreign Affairs Canada website.

Vancouver Airport shuttle

Limo Vancouver BC
Visitors are advised that if they are travelling through a third country, they may also need visas or other documents for that country.

United States Visitors to Canada

Effective January 23, 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires everyone entering or re-entering the US by air to show a passport, or a NEXUS card at a NEXUS kiosk at designated airports.

On June 1, 2009, the US government will implement the land and sea phase of WHTI. The rules require that most travellers entering the United States at sea or land ports-of-entry have a passport, passport card or other travel documents as approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

WHTI-Compliant Documents:

US passport card: Only valid for re-entry into the United States at land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region and Bermuda.
Trusted traveller cards (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST)
State-issued enhanced driver’s license
Enhanced tribal card (when available)
US military identification with military travel orders
Merchant mariner document when travelling on official maritime business
Native American tribal photo identification card
Form I-872 American Indian card
For further information, please visit

Requirements for Children Entering Canada
If you are travelling with children, you must carry identification, such as a birth certificate, proof of citizenship or student visa for each child under 18 years old. Divorced parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. Adults who are not parents or guardians must have written permission from the parents or guardians to accompany the children. When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should travel in the same vehicle as the children for border crossing.

Customs officers are often looking for missing children and may ask questions about the children travelling with you.

Immunizations and Vaccinations
No special immunizations or vaccinations are required to visit Canada. If you are traveling with children, it is always a good idea to ensure they are up to date on routine childhood immunizations before international travel. Contact a qualified health professional in your area for more advice. For current travel health information, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Customs and Duty Free
Prohibited and Restricted Items by Canada Customs 
To learn more about Canadian customs regulations, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.

Many agricultural items are restricted or prohibited entry to Canada. Canadian law requires that you declare all agricultural products you bring into Canada to customs officers when you arrive, whether by land, sea, or air. Permission is required to import plants to Canada, apart from houseplants from the United States. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides more information.

Handguns and weapons, such as mace and pepper spray, are prohibited from being brought into Canada. Additionally, some fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, dairy products, and plants from other countries cannot be brought into Canada. For more information, please consult the Canada Border Services Agency website.

If the Gifts valued at $60 or less each may be brought into Canada duty-free and tax-free. If you bring in gifts worth more than $60, they will be subject to duty on the excess amount. Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and advertising materials do not qualify as gifts.

Alcohol and Tobacco Products
You can bring in limited quantities of alcohol if you meet the minimum age requirements of the province or territory you enter Canada (see below). These items must accompany you on your arrival.

Minimum ages for the importation of alcoholic beverages are 18 for Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec and 19 for Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

You can import only one of the following amounts of alcohol free of duty and taxes: 1.5 l of wine; 1.14 l of liquor; a total of 1.14 l of wine and liquor; or 24 x 355 ml cans or bottles (a maximum of 8.5 l) of beer or ale.

You can bring into Canada duty free: 200 cigarettes; 50 cigars or cigarillos; 200 g of manufactured tobacco; or 200 tobacco sticks.

For more information on bringing in alcohol and tobacco to Canada, please visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.

Duty-Free Limits for International (not US residents) Visitors Returning Home 
International visitors outside the US should consult with customs officials in their home countries to determine their duty-free limits.

Duty-Free Limits for US Visitors Returning Home 
American residents returning to the US after 48 hours can take back $800 US worth of merchandise duty-free, every 30 days. This may include 1 l of alcohol (provided the resident is 21 years or over), 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigars, not of Cuban origin. If you are travelling as a family, you may combine your personal exemptions for visits over 48 hours.

If your stay is less than 48 hours, or if the $800 US allowance, or part of it, has been used within the previous 30 days, an exemption of $200 US is allowed, including 150 ml of alcohol, 150 ml of perfume and no more than 50 cigarettes, or 10 cigars, not of Cuban origin.

If you plan to bring back articles as part of an exemption, they must be for personal or household use. These articles must be carried with you and declared. Duty charged varies according to the country the article was made in and the type of article. No prohibited or restricted items are permitted across the border.

For more information on US border-crossing and duty requirements and limits, please visit the U.S. Customs website.

Customs Offices
You can locate the nearest customs office by visiting the Canada Border Services Agency website, or by calling the Border Information Service (BIS). Call toll free in Canada: 1-800-461-9999 Outside Canada, call 204.983.3500 or 506.636.5064 (long-distance charges apply).

Airlines and Airports
Canada’s major airline is Air Canada, providing air transportation nationally and internationally to more than 150 destinations. Other airlines also offer service to and within Canada.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR), located in Metro Vancouver, is the major international airport for British Columbia and a gateway for travelers from the Pacific Rim.

Direct flights connect the major cities of the globe with the larger Canadian airports, and frequent connecting flights will help you get to any Canadian destination efficiently.

Direct flights from most major US air terminals take you to many Canadian cities including Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, London, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec City, Saint John, Halifax, and Yarmouth.

Air Travel and Security
For a complete guide to Canada’s airlines, please visit Transport Canada.
Use the CATSA airport search tool to search for Canadian airports from coast to coast to coast.

To learn more about Canadian airport security guidelines, please visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) website.

Travellers with disabilities in Canada have more options and resources for exploring the country than ever before.

Visit Canada’s Persons with Disabilities Online website for information on accessibility in Canada and to use the handy Accessible Travel and Tourism Information Finder.

For details about accessible transportation in Canada and links to resources for travellers with special needs, please visit the Access to Travel website.

Embassies and Consulates
Canada hosts numerous embassies, consulates and high commissions that help foreign travellers. If you need help with documentation (for example, replacing a lost passport or extending a visa) or assistance dealing with legal, medical, or emergency matters, contact your country’s diplomatic mission or consular office in Canada.

International Travellers to Canada ‘ Contacting your Consulate in Canada 
To search a directory of consular offices across Canada by country of origin, visit the Foreign Affairs Canada website. 
US Travellers to Canada ‘ Contacting a US Consulate in Canada
American travellers can access information and services regarding passports, foreign births, customs requirements, taxes and social security by contacting a US consulate in Canada or by calling 1.800.529.4410 (toll-free). To search for US embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions in Canada, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Travel Tips

Most countries and cities have their own unique systems and policies to consider when travelling. To make your trip as easy and fun as possible, check out the following information for Canada and Vancouver:

What to Wear

Vancouver is a casual town with mild weather year-round; layers and smart casual clothes will see you through most situations.

Vancouver enjoys warm, comfortable summers that are rarely scorching. June to August daytime temperatures lingers just above 20º Celsius (70º Fahrenheit). Evenings, especially in the surrounding mountains, can be cool, so it is best to pack a light jacket and sweater.

Autumn on the coast is very mild with summer-like weather often stretching into October. By November, the air turns crisp in the mornings and leaves start to fall. Bring warm, waterproof clothing if visiting at this time of year, and expect to see some spectacular fall foliage!

Our winters are mild and wet – it rarely snows in this part of Canada except, of course, at our local ski hills. From November to February, temperatures average from 0º to 5º Celsius (around 45º Fahrenheit). To stay cozy and dry, you will need warm clothes, a raincoat, and an umbrella. Waterproof footwear is always a good idea.

The fresh spring air blows in early to our coastal city. By February or March, you will see early crocuses and daffodils popping up, quickly followed by an eruption of spring blossoms. Active locals suddenly emerge from hibernation, flooding the streets on bicycles, inline skates, and running shoes. Pack light clothing along with a few sweaters for good measure.


We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency when travelling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants, and suppliers accept the US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.

Canadian one dollar coin (‘loonie’) ($) = 100 cents 
Canadian two dollar coin (‘toonie’) ($) = 200 cents 
Notes are in denominations of $1000, $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 
Coins are in denominations of $2, $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, $0.05, $0.01 
Travelers Cheques
Traveller’s cheques in Canadian dollars are the safest and most convenient way to carry money. They are widely accepted and can be cashed at banks or foreign exchange brokers. Identification may be required when cashing travellers’ cheques.

Phone Codes

There are three telephone area codes for the province of British Columbia. Dialling in BC required 10-digit phone numbers, so ensure you include the correct area code in front of the local number you are dialling.

604, 778, 250

Greater Vancouver (including two outer communities – Abbotsford and Mission) use 604 and 778. The 604-area code has been around for decades and most local numbers will start with this. New numbers issued after November 2001 start with 778 and 236. 
The urbanized area north of Greater Vancouver to Whistler uses only the 604-area code. 
The rest of BC, including Victoria, uses the 250-area code. 
Local vs. Long Distance

Almost all phone numbers in the Greater Vancouver area are local calls. A recorded message will play if you have dialled a long-distance number and will provide redialing instructions. 
Phone calls to Whistler are long distance, but most businesses in the resort community have either toll-free or local-call numbers. 
Victoria is a long distance from Vancouver (and vice versa.) 
Direct Dial

If you are calling from within Canada or the United States, direct dialing is: 1. area code. phone. Number (e.g. 1.604.555.1212)

If you are calling from outside North America, you can dial directly to BC numbers. Simply use the international access code 00 if you are calling from most countries in Europe and 0011 if you are calling from Australia. Then dial our country code 1, the area code and the number.

There are 10 statutory holidays and one civic holiday celebrated annually in British Columbia. Generally, banks and some businesses remain closed. Theatres, restaurants, and corner grocery stores remain open for business as usual. In some centres, most shops remain open.

Canada has two official languages – English and French. English is the predominant language in British Columbia.

Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because of this, the city is considered multilingual on an unofficial level. Many banks, hotels, airline offices, service institutions, shops and key tourist destinations have multi-lingual staff.

After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino) and Spanish.