Canada - Consular Information Sheet
January 22, 2001
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, telephone (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.
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 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. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department
of State's pamphlet, 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. Serious medical
problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to
the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors
and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether
your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical
evacuation, and adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems
requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United
States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor
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.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions 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.
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 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/Ambulance 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 web site 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
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. Quebec prohibits turning right at
a red light. 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
at a green light. 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.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Canada's Civil Aviation Authority
as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of Canada's air carrier operations. For
further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign
air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at tel. 1-618-229-4801.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Canada's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Canada are strict, and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines.
IMPORTATION OF FIREARMS: Firearms are strictly controlled.
As of January 1, 2001, visitors bringing firearms into Canada,
or planning to borrow and use firearms while in Canada, are required
to declare the firearms in writing using a Non-Resident Firearm
Declaration form. Multiple firearms can be declared on the same
form. At the border, three copies of the unsigned declaration
must be presented to a Canadian Customs officer. The declaration
will serve as a temporary license and registration certificate
for up to 60 days. The Non-Resident Firearm Declaration costs
$50 (Canadian). Visitors planning to borrow a firearm in Canada
must obtain in advance a Temporary Firearms Borrowing License,
which costs $30 (Canadian). The form must be signed before a Canadian
Customs officer and the fee paid at the border. In order to save
time at the border, Canadian authorities recommend that visitors
complete the declaration form, but not sign it, and make two copies
of the completed form before arriving at the port-of-entry. Requests
made at the border for photocopies of the form may be denied.
Full details on this new policy are available at the
Canadian Firearms Centre web site, http://www.cfc-ccaf.gc.ca,
under the heading "Visitors to Canada." The Non-Resident
Firearm Declaration and the Temporary Firearms Borrowing License
applications may also be obtained from this web site.
Canada has three classes of firearms: non-restricted, restricted,
and prohibited. Non-restricted firearms include most ordinary
hunting rifles and shotguns. These may be brought temporarily
into Canada for sporting or hunting use during hunting season,
for use in competitions, for in-transit movement through Canada,
or for personal protection against wildlife in remote areas of
Canada. Anyone wishing to bring hunting rifles into Canada must
be at least 18 years old, and the firearm must be properly stored
for transport. Restricted firearms are primarily handguns; however,
pepper spray and mace are also included in this category. A restricted
firearm may be brought into Canada, but an Authorization to Transport
permit must be obtained in advance from a Provincial or Territorial
Chief Firearms Officer. Prohibited firearms include fully automatic,
converted automatics, and assault-type weapons. Prohibited firearms
are not allowed into Canada.
In advance of any travel, please contact a Canadian embassy or
consulate, or the
Canadian Firearms Centre (http://www.cfc.ccaf.gc.ca) for detailed
information and instructions on temporarily importing firearms.
In all cases, travelers must declare to Canadian Customs authorities
any firearms and weapons in their possession when entering Canada.
If a traveler is denied permission to bring in the firearm, there
are often facilities near border crossings where firearms may
be stored, pending the traveler's return to the United States.
Canadian law requires that officials confiscate firearms and weapons
from those crossing the border who deny having them in their possession.
Confiscated firearms and weapons are never returned.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: Many governments, including Canada's,
have initiated procedures at entry and exit points to prevent
international child abduction, including requiring documentary
evidence of relationship and permission of the parent(s) or legal
guardian not present for the child's travel. Having such documentation
on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure.
further information on international adoption of children and
international parental child abduction, please refer to our
Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: U.S. citizens
living in or visiting Canada may register at the Consular Section
of the U.S. Embassy or at a U.S. Consulate General in Canada,
and may obtain updated information on travel and security within
U.S. Embassy is in Ottawa, Ontario, at 490 Sussex Drive, K1N
1G8, telephone (613) 238-5335, fax (613) 688-3082. The Embassy
web site is http://www.usembassycanada.gov. The Embassy's consular
district includes Baffin Island, the following counties in eastern
Ontario: Lanark, Leeds, Prescott, Renfrew, Russell and Stormont;
and the following counties in western Quebec: Gatineau, Hull,
Labelle, Papineau, Pontiac and Tamiscamingue.
U.S. Consulates General are located at:
Calgary, Alberta, at Suite 1050, 615 Macleod Trail SE, telephone
(403) 266-8962; emergency-after hours (403) 228-8900; fax (403)
264-6630. The consular district includes Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan,
and the Northwest Territories, excluding Nunavut.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, at Suite 910, Cogswell Tower, Scotia Square,
telephone (902) 429-2480; emergency-after hours (902) 429-2485;
fax (902) 423-6861. The consular district includes New Brunswick,
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the islands
of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
Montreal, Quebec, at 1155 St. Alexander Street, telephone (514)
398-9695; emergency-after hours (514) 981-5059; fax (514) 398-0702.
The consular district includes southwestern Quebec with the exception
of the six counties served by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
Quebec City, Quebec, at 2 Place Terrasse Dufferin, telephone
(418) 692-2095; emergency-after hours (418) 692-2096; fax (418)
692-4640. The consular district includes the counties of Abitibi-West,
Abitibi-East, St. Maurice, Trois-Rivieres, Nicolet, Wolfe, Frontenac
and all other counties to the north or east within the province
of Quebec. The new arctic territory of Nunavut is also in this
Toronto, Ontario, at 360 University Avenue, telephone (416) 595-1700;
emergency-after hours (416) 201-4100; fax (416) 595-5466. The
consular district includes the province of Ontario except the
six counties served by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
Vancouver, British Columbia, at 1095 West Pender Street, telephone
(604) 685-4311; fax (604) 685-7175. The consular district includes
British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated February 23,
2000 to update the sections on Crime, Traffic Safety and Road
Conditions, Importation of Firearms, Children's Issues, and Embassy
and Consulate Locations.