Home / General Travel Tips /
XYZ Consular Info: Canada
» » View Travel Tips by Destination * » » View Travel Tips by Topic
XYZ Consular Info: Canada
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
For recorded travel information, call 202-647-5225
Internet Address: http://travel.state.gov
For information by fax, call 202-647-3000 from your fax machine
Consular Information Sheet: CANADA Part One
August 6, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Canada is a highly developed stable democracy.
Tourist facilities are widely available except in northern and wilderness
areas, where they are less developed and can be vast distances apart.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: When entering from the United States, U.S. citizens
must show either a U.S. passport or proof of U.S. citizenship and photo ID.
U.S. citizens entering Canada from a third country must have a valid
passport. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for a stay up to 180
days. Anyone with a criminal record (including a DWI charge) should contact
the Canadian Embassy or nearest Canadian consulate before travel. For
further information on entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy
of Canada at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W, Washington, D.C. 20001,
tel. (202) 682-1740, Internet address: http://www.cdnemb-washdc.org; or the
Canadian consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit,
Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York,
San Juan or Seattle.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have
initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring
documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel
from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such
documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
CRIME: Although criminal activity is more common in urban areas, violent
crimes such as murder, armed robbery, and rape are infrequent throughout the
country. Visitors to Vancouver should be aware that vehicles with U.S.
license plates and rental vehicles have been regularly targeted for
opportunistic smash-and-grab thefts, and they are cautioned to avoid leaving
any possessions unattended in such vehicles.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately
to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are
the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local
police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.
The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate
medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds
could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the
crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers
can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an
attorney if needed.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip
Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is
available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at
http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Good medical care is widely available. The Canadian
health care system is run on a provincial basis (e.g. the province of
Ontario has its own hospital insurance plan as does each of the other
provinces and territories) and is funded by Canadian taxpayer money.
Tourists and temporary visitors do not qualify for this health care plan and
should have their own insurance to cover any medical expenses. Health care
professionals in the province of Quebec might only speak French.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to
consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to
confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency
expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom
cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental
coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not
provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However,
many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will
cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services
such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider
that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to
providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may
cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical
care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your
insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to
the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for
expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for
psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of
Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling
Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or
autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health
precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite
protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP
(1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S.
citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those
in the United States. The information below concerning Canada is provided
for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a
particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Transport Canada is the Canadian federal government agency responsible for
road safety, although each province or territory has the authority to
establish its own traffic and safety laws. For detailed information on road
conditions throughout Canada, as well as links to provincial government web
sites, please see the Transport Canada website at http://www.tc.gc.ca or the
Canadian Automobile Association web site at http://www.caa.ca. There are
typically 3,000 vehicle-related fatalities in Canada each year. All forms
of public transportation in Canada are generally excellent.
Driving in Canada is similar to driving in parts of the United States. Most
distances and speeds, however, are posted in kilometers per hour, and some
signs, particularly in Quebec, may be in French. U.S. driver's licenses are
valid in Canada. Proof of auto insurance is required. U.S. auto insurance
is accepted as long as an individual is a tourist in Canada. Unless
otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit in Canada is 50km/hr in cities and
80km/hr on highways. On rural highways, the posted speed limit may be
100km/hr (approximately 60 miles/hr). Seat belt use is mandatory for all
passengers, and child car seats must be used for children under 40 pounds.
Some provinces require drivers to keep their headlights on during the day.
Motorcycles cannot share a lane, and safety helmets for drivers and
passengers are mandatory. In Quebec, it is prohibited to turn right on red.
As in the United States, all emergency assistance in Canada can be reached
by dialing 911.
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense. Penalties are heavy,
and any prior conviction
(no matter how long ago or how minor the infraction) is grounds for
exclusion from Canada. A waiver of exclusion may be obtained from Canadian
consulates in the United States, but it requires several weeks to process.
It is illegal to take automobile radar detectors into Quebec, Ontario,
Manitoba, the Yukon or the Northwest Territories. Police may confiscate
radar detectors, whether in use or not, and may impose substantial fines.
Winter travel can be dangerous due to heavy snowfalls and ice that make road
conditions hazardous. Some roads and bridges are subject to periodic
closings during winter. The Canadian Automobile Association
(http://www.caa.ca) has tips for winter driving in Canada. Drivers should
be aware that the frequency with which motorists run red lights is a serious
concern throughout Canada, and motorists are advised to pause before
proceeding when a light turns green. Travelers should also be cautious of
deer, elk, and moose while driving at night in rural areas. Holiday periods
can be dangerous because of increased traffic.
Travel along Highway 401 between London and Windsor, Ontario has been the
scene of several traffic accidents due to sudden and unpredictable fog, and
heavy truck traffic. This was the site of a 70-car collision in 1999 that
claimed the lives of several individuals, including three American citizens.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to
foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of
Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For
specific information concerning Canadian driving permits, mandatory
insurance and entry regulations, please contact the Canadian National
Tourist Organization at http://www.travelcanada.ca.
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated January 22, 2001 to
update the sections on Customs Regulations, Children's Issues, and Embassy
and Consulate Locations.