What You Should Know about Traveling to Canada

by admin on January 31, 2013

Traveling to Canada

So you want to visit Canada? Whether you favor skiing or kayaking in Vancouver, the world-class shopping and French heritage of Montreal, the hiking or natural beauty of Banff, the cosmopolitan nature of Toronto, the cowboy culture of Calgary or the multitudes of other attractions, Canada has much to offer travelers from all over the globe.

Nearly 16 million tourists made at least overnight stops in the country in 2011, according to the Canadian Tourism Commission. While the bulk of them, more than 11.5 million, came from the United States, large numbers of travelers also came from the following countries:

  • United Kingdom: 679,828 visitors.
  • France: 459,140 – up 5.4% from the previous year.
  • Germany: 315,901 tourists.
  • Australia: 242.430, up 4.1% from 2010.

Tourism officials also consider Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, China and India to be emerging markets for travel. Here are some tips travelers should know before entering Canada.

Entering the country

  • You must have a passport to enter Canada. That includes travelers from the U.S.
  • Anyone with a criminal record, including being convicted of drunken driving, can be barred from entering Canada. Getting a waiver for this provision can take several weeks.
  • Anyone traveling with children, including one parent, grandparents or other relatives, should have carry proof of custody or letters from the parent or parents not present authorizing the trip. This is because of international concerns about child abduction.
  • There are strict limits on the amount of alcohol and cigarettes and other tobacco products you can bring into Canada. Check with authorities in the provinces you plan to visit.
  • You must declare any weapons in your possession when entering the country, and most cannot be brought into the country. The main exception is for hunting rifles and shotguns.
  • Pets. Owners of dogs and cats that are at least three months old must have certificates to show the animal has been vaccinated against rabies in the prior three years.
  • Prescription drugs should be kept in their original packaging. If you have syringes used for medical reasons, you must declare them to customs officials and have on hand a certificate showing that they are for medical use.

While in Canada

  • Your health insurance in your native country usually is not in force while you’re in Canada. Check with your provider to make sure. If not, you might want to consider travel health insurance. Many health-care providers will require full payment up front before administering care. Medical evacuations, if required while you’re visiting any foreign country, can have devastating financial consequences.
  • You cannot rent a car in Canada unless you have a valid driver’s license. U.S. licenses are valid in Canada. If you are from any other country, then you must have an International Driving Permit. You must get that permit from your home country.
  • Your car insurance might not be in effect in Canada. If you’re from the U.S., check with your carrier. Some providers, but not all, permit policyholders to carry their coverages to Canada. Your best bet is to ask your agent. The same advice applies to visitors from other countries. Don’t assume you’ll have coverage; ask your agent. Be sure to ask whether it will cover rental cars.
  • Even if your auto insurance remains in force, you might not have enough liability coverage to meet Canada’s minimum requirements. If not, you can purchase additional coverage fairly inexpensively. Minimum coverage can differ by province.

Canada has much to offer to tourists from nations around the globe. But it is a foreign country, and rules could be different from those of your home. Be patient, ask questions and investigate as much as you can before you leave home. The time you invest will pay dividends during your trip.

This article was contributed by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley, Editor of the HomeInsurance.com blog. Carrie has been writing insurance news and consumer information for HomeInsurance.com since 2008. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington in 2005 with a B.A. in Professional Writing and Journalism.

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