General Money Entry Requirements Health & safety Weather Embassies Etiquette Public Holidays Attractions Map
Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada ©Isruma
The vast nation of Canada, second largest country in the world, offers a range of experiences for visitors that are as wide as the land itself. From its large, cosmopolitan cities to its frozen northern tundra; its snowy mountain peaks to its rugged coastlines; and its rich farmlands to its pioneering outposts, Canada offers something to suit the taste of every traveller. Canada is bound to the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the north by the polar ice cap, and to the south by the United States of America.
It is a country renowned for its stunningly beautiful scenery and love of the outdoors. Even the cities have been carefully designed to preserve metropolitan green belts and parklands, ensuring that Canadians are never far from their natural heritage. The country has a French and British colonial heritage, which is reflected in its cuisine, culture and customs, mixed in with the legacy of the country's own enigmatic aboriginal First Nations history.
In the south the Rocky Mountains intrude into Canada across the border with the United States, separating Canada's two main tourist provinces, British Columbia and Alberta. The mountains abound with winter sports resorts. Throughout the nation the most popular venues for outdoor pursuits, year round, are the country's huge national parks. There are more than 41 of these, with one of them, Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, larger than the country of Switzerland. Canadian national parks are unique in that they have cities and towns inside the protected areas, which provide comfortable bases for exploring the natural and manmade attractions of the reserves.
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. Internet cafes are widely available. Most international mobile phone companies have roaming agreements with Canadian operators, however it will be cheaper to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card if visiting the country for long periods.
The official languages are English and French (spoken predominantly in Quebec).
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. The plant Qhat (Khat) is illegal in Canada and prison sentences are heavy.
Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs and a plug with a third round grounding pin are standard.
Being such a large country, Canada's climate varies substantially depending on which area one visits. The whole country, however, has very distinct seasons. The warmest months are June, July and August, and in winter (December, January and February) it is very cold, with heavy snowfalls in most provinces. Autumn is a beautiful season with crisp air and brilliant fall foliage, while in some areas spring brings the emergence of carpets of wild flowers.
All visitors must hold a valid passport. We recommend that passports always be valid for six months after 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 Authorization (eTA) form online prior to travel to Canada. This is a new requirement implemented as of 28 September 2016 and 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 document to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities.
US travellers should have a valid passport if departing from the USA, otherwise a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, as well as proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, is recommended or a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six months. Note: if departing from the US, a valid passport is required by US immigration authorities.
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.
Australians must hold passports valid for period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six 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.
New Zealanders require a passport valid for the period of the intended stay. No visa is necessary for stays of up to six months.
No vaccinations are necessary for travel to Canada. Medical care is excellent, but expensive, so medical insurance is advised.
Most visits to Canada are trouble-free. The country is politically stable, but does share the common international risk of terrorism. There have been no recent terrorism events. The crime rate is low, but travellers are advised to take sensible precautions to safeguard their belongings, as they would anywhere. Canada is prone to tornadoes between May and September.
Emergency Phone Number
* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov
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.
Exchange RateNot available.
Embassies of Canada
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.
Foreign Embassies 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.
Smoking bans have been implemented in Canada in enclosed public places such as restaurants, bars and shopping malls.
Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal are the main business centres. 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 meetings tend to begin on time so punctuality should be taken seriously, as should appearance. Canadians dress conservatively and smartly for business meetings 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.
There is no service charge added to restaurant bills in Canada and staff expect a tip of around 15 percent. Hairdressers and taxi drivers are also usually tipped at the same rate, while bellhops, doormen, porters and similar service providers at hotels, airports and stations are generally paid at the customer's discretion. It has become more common for places with counter service to display 'tip jars', but in such cases tipping is not necessary.
Public Holidays in Canada
Canada has an abundance of things to see and do within its vast borders. After all, few countries are blessed with such a rich endowment of natural beauty and astounding physical attractions. Complementing these are world-class cities such as the west coast gem of Vancouver, the vibrant metropolis of Toronto, and elegant Montreal. Alberta and British Columbia attract the most tourists, and the majority of travellers choose to develop their itineraries around one of the major cities.
Canada is certainly a year-round destination: the warm summer months (June to August) are perfect for sightseeing and overland travel, while the admittedly icy winters (December to February) provide for some incredible skiing and beautiful snow-covered vistas. Visitors to Canada generally choose to focus on one particular region, as there are major distances to travel if you want to see everything. Canada is vast enough to fill a lifetime of holidays.
Canada's attractions are as diverse as the travellers they appeal to: sporting enthusiasts flock here for the skiing and back-country hiking, families for the laid-back charm and warm welcome of the urban centres.
Map of Canada
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