Service charges/gratuities are not usually added to restaurant
bills in Canada. Salary levels in many restaurants are based
on the assumption that staff will receive a propotion of their
income in tips. If satisfied with the service received, a
tip of 10-15% is the usual amount. Barbers, hairdressers and
taxi drivers are also usually tipped. Bellhops, dooormen and
similar staff at hotels, airports and railway stations are
generally tipped as well.
Currency & Credit Cards
Canada's currency is based on the decimal system with 100
cents to the dollar. Coints are minted in denominations of
1 cent(penny), 5 cents(nickel), 10 cents(dime), 25 cents(quarter),
along with $1 and $2 coins (known to Canadians as the 'loonie'
and 'toonie' respectively). Paper money includes bills of
$5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1000. Check with your bank
regarding daily exchange rates. Changing all money prior to
your trip is suggested.
Major credit cards such as Visa, American Express and MasterCard
are recognized in Canada.
Canada has six time zones. The easternmost in Newfoundland,
is three and 1/2 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time(GMT). The
other time zones are the Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain
and farthest west, Pacific that is eight hours behind GMT.
Traveling to Canada by car is convenient. Many north or south
American interstates and major highways lead directly to the
Canadian border. If your vehicle is rented or borrowed, you
should have permission to use the vehicle and or trailer.
Bus and train remain popular and comfortable ways to see Canada.
As well, AMTRAK connects several cross-border crossings with
the Canadian VIA Rail System.
Visa & Passport
Permanent residents of the United States (anyone with a Green
Card) do not need to carry a passport or travel documents
to enter Canada. Just make sure you carry identification to
establish your citizenship such as a Birth Certificate and
least one ID card with photo. If you are a naturalized U.S.
citizen, you should carry this certificate. Permanent residents
of the U.S.A. must bring their "Green Card".
Temporary residents of the United States (anyone who carries
a Temporary Resident Card, Form 1-688, or Employment Authorization
Card, 1-688A or 1-688B) must carry a passport and may also
require a visa depending on their country of citizenship.
Citizens of other countries who wish to enter Canada through
the United States must also carry a valid passport and may
require a visa, which they should obtain from a Canadian Embassy
or Consulate outside Canada.Those in this should check with
an office of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
before they enter Canada.
Most Canadian cities have "911" emergency service. If this
does not work, simply dial "0" and ask the operator to connect
you to the police or medical services. There is no charge
for emergency calls placed from a public pay phone.
When to go
Spring, summer and autumn are all ideal for touring, though
if you want to ski you'll naturally have to come in winter
or early spring. For campers, and those who want to visit
the far north, the summer months of July and August are best.
Note that the peak tourist season is between mid-June and
Although spring and autumn have less crowds, lower prices
and a more relaxed pace than the summer months, some visitor-oriented
facilities and attractions may be closed during these shoulder
If you want to fly direct to Canada, its main international
airports are in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
Departure tax: Vancouver has an airport improvement
fee which is C$15 for international departures and approximately
C$10 for departures to other North American destinations,
including Hawaii and Mexico. Montrιal (Dorval) has a departure
tax of C$10 for international departures and C$7.50 for departures
to other North American destinations. Transit passengers and
children under two years of age not occupying a seat are exempt.
Many visitors enter Canada from major continental US cities
by plane, train, bus, and car. There are three main rail routes
from the USA: New York-Montreal, New York-Toronto and Chicago-Toronto.
The Greyhound network in the USA connects with most major
destinations in Canada, but involves a bus transfer at the
border. There are numerous road border crossings. Note that
popular crossing points (such as Niagara Falls) can have lengthy
queues on weekends.
Land travel is much cheaper and, if you don't mind long distances,
much more interesting than flying. The bus network is the
most extensive public transportation system and is generally
less expensive than the now limited train service.
The longest, continuous train route in the country runs
from Toronto to Vancouver. The train that does the trip, the
Canadian, looks like the classic 1950s stainless steel
original, complete with the two-storeyed windowed `dome car'
for sightseeing. Air fares are fairly expensive but if you're
strapped for time, the distances you may need to travel are
so great that you'll probably have to fly. Air Canada and
Canadian Airlines are the major domestic airlines. In many
ways, the best way to experience the country is to hire a
car. Canadians drive on the right side of the road, as in
the USA. A valid driver's license from any country is good
in Canada for three months.