Travelling to Canada

International Visitors

The Government of Canada requires that all international visitors carry a valid passport to enter Canada. Visas are not required for visitors from the US, the Commonwealth and most of Western Europe for stays up to 180 days.

Required by those from more than 130 other countries. However, visa-exempt foreign nationals flying to Canada now require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). This excludes US citizens and those who already have a valid Canadian visa. For more information on the eTA, see www.canada.ca/eta .

For visa information, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website and review this Entry requirements by country/territory list.

All About Money

ATMs are widely available around the city. Credit cards are accepted and widely used at all accommodations and almost all shops and restaurants.

Click here to see currency conversions.

Currency

Canadian dollar (CAD)

All amounts approximate:
USD 1 US = CAD 1.33
EUR 1 = CAD 1.50
GBP 1 = CAD 1.74

All About Money

ATMs are widely available around the city. Credit cards are accepted and widely used at all accommodations and almost all shops and restaurants.

Currency Conversion: https://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/exchange/currency-converter/

Credit Cards

Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted in Canada. Credit cards can get cash advances at bank ATMs, usually for an additional surcharge. Be aware that many credit cards often convert foreign charges using unfavourable exchange rates and fees.

Changing Money

Currency can be exchanged at most main bank branches, which often charge less than the bureaux de change dotted around the city. In addition to the banks, try Vancouver Bullion & Currency Exchange, which often offers a wider range of currencies and competitive rates.

ATMs

ATM exchange rates usually beat the rates offered for traveller's checks or foreign currency. Canadian ATM fees are generally low, but your home bank may charge another fee on top of that. Some ATM machines also dispense US currency. ATMs abound in Vancouver, with bank branches congregating around the business district bordered by Burrard, Georgia, Pender and Granville Sts. Drugstores also frequently have ATMs.

More Information

Canadian dollars come in $5 (blue), $10 (purple), $20 (green), $50 (red) and $100 (brown) denominations. The original paper bills have been replaced with plasticized bills in recent years. Coins come in nickel (5¢), dime (10¢), quarter (25¢), 'loonie' ($1) and 'toonie' ($2) coins. The penny (1¢) has been phased out, although cash registers in most stores and businesses still include penny amounts; the price you actually pay will be rounded up or down to the nearest 0 or 5.

Taxes & Refunds

Expect to pay 5% Goods and Services (GST) tax on almost all purchases as well as an additional 7% PST on some purchases. These are not included in advertised prices and will be added at the checkout when you pay.

There is also a 3% hotel tax (called the Municipal and Regional District Tax) on overnight accommodations in Vancouver.

Tax rebates for visitors have mostly been discontinued in recent years.

Check in with the Canada Revenue Agency for the latest information.

Telephone

Most Vancouver-area phone numbers have the area code 604, although also expect to see 778. Dial all 10 digits of a given phone number, including the three-digit area code and seven-digit number, even for local calls. In some instances (eg. between Vancouver and Whistler), numbers will have the same area code but will be long-distance; at such times you need to dial 1 before the area code.

Always dial 1 before other domestic long-distance and toll-free (800, 888, 877 etc) numbers. International rates apply for calls to the US, even though the dialing code (+1) is the same as for Canadian long-distance calls. Dial 011 followed by the country code for all other overseas direct-dial calls.

Mobile Phones

Local SIM cards may be used with some international phones. Roaming can be expensive: check with your service provider.

More Information

Cell phones use the GSM and CDMA systems, depending on your carrier. Check with your cellular service provider before you leave about using your phone in Canada. Calls may be routed internationally, and US travelers should beware roaming surcharges (it can become very expensive for a 'local' call).

Goods and Services Tax

Taxes & Refunds

Expect to pay 5% Goods and Services (GST) tax on almost all purchases as well as an additional 7% PST on some purchases. These are not included in advertised prices and will be added at the checkout when you pay.

There is also a 3% hotel tax (called the Municipal and Regional District Tax) on overnight accommodations in Vancouver.

Tax rebates for visitors have mostly been discontinued in recent years.

Check in with the Canada Revenue Agency for the latest information.

Electricity

Canada (and USA) operates on 110V, 60Hz AC. The power plugs and sockets are of type A and B.

Travel Power Adapters are readily available at most drug and convenient stores for $15 - $35 CAN.

Emergency Hotlines

Police, Fire & Ambulance    911
Police (non-emergency number)    311

Useful Links

Getting to and from the airport

There are several options to go between Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and downtown Vancouver, including car rentals, limousine, taxi, and public transit.

Car

Most major car-rental agencies have desks at the airport, as well as multiple offices around the city. Seat belts are compulsory in Canada – proceed east after leaving the airport on Grant McConachie Way, and follow the Vancouver signs over the Arthur Laing Bridge. Take the Granville St exit and travel north along Granville St with the mountain ahead of you. Depending on traffic, expect to arrive in the downtown core in around 30 minutes.

Taxi (Cab)

Follow the signs from inside the airport (domestic and international terminals) to the taxi stand just outside. The fare to downtown, around 30 minutes away, will usually cost between $35 and $45, plus tip (15% is the norm).

Alternatively, limo-car services are also available close to the main taxi stand. Expect to pay around $20 more for your ride to the city if you want to arrive in style.

Train

SkyTrain's 16-station Canada Line (see the route maps at www.translink.ca ) operates a rapid-transit train service from the airport to downtown. Trains run every few minutes from early morning until after midnight and take around 25 minutes to reach downtown's Waterfront Station. The airport station is located just outside, between the domestic and international terminals. Follow the signs from inside either terminal and buy your ticket from the platform vending machines. These accept cash, and credit and debit cards – look for green-jacketed Canada Line staff if you're bleary-eyed and need assistance after a long-haul flight. Fares from the airport cost between $7.75 and $10.50, depending on your destination and the time of day.
 

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