Canada - General Information

Canada - General Information

Border Entry Information

Travellers visiting the U.S. and Canada from a foreign country must be able to prove to a CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Officer that they have sufficient funds (i.e. credit cards, cash, travellers cheques, money orders etc.) to cover their travel, lodging, entertainment, meals, etc. in order to be admitted into the U.S. and Canada.  Therefore please carry a copy of your itinerary with you for entry.

Currency Information

The national currency of Canada is the Canadian Dollar (C$).

We recommend you take some local currency with you.  Major credit cards are widely accepted. Use of debit cards is widespread, although many stores impose a $5 to $20 minimum per debit card purchase, and service charges may apply.  We also recommend that you inform your bank/card company of your trip to Canada, in order to avoid any problems when withdrawing cash from ATMs; as a security method on your behalf, banks occasionally stop withdrawals in the event that they are being used fraudulently abroad.

Sterling cash can be changed at banks and exchange offices in Canada, but not generally at hotels.

Currency Restriction:

There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency, but amounts equal or greater than C$10,000 should be declared.

Means of Payment

When travelling outside of the UK, you should take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card). Make sure you have enough money to cover emergencies and any unexpected delays.

Tipping

Tipping is a way of life and a major source of income for service providers in Canada.

To give a tip is simply a way of saying thank you for the service you have received.  Employers often pay their employees lower wages in anticipation that receiving tips will increase the service levels they provide.  Many of these employees may not receive any employer-paid benefits such as health insurance, which they consequently must pay for personally.

With the exception of gratuities to hotel porters (one piece of luggage per person), tips are not included in the price of your holiday.  Tips are of course discretionary however there will be occasions when you are expected to tip.

When calculating the tip in restaurants and bars, 15-20% of the bill is usually appreciated, sometimes the tip is automatically added to the bill and when in taxi cabs, 10% of the posted fare is usually appreciated.

Duty Free

The following goods may be imported into Canada by non-residents without incurring customs duty:

  • 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars or cigarillos and 200g of loose tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks per person over 18 years of age.
  • 1.5L bottle of wine or 1.14L bottle of liquor or 8.5L of beer or ale per person over 18 years of age if entering Alberta, Manitoba and Québec, and over 19 years if entering British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Yukon.
  • Gifts to the value of C$60 per gift (excluding advertising matter, business-related materials, tobacco or alcoholic beverages). 

Please check these allowances prior to travel as they are subject to change.

Note: There are three different forms of sales tax throughout Canada; these are added onto the price of goods at the till.

A Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% is added on to the sale of most goods and services (in Québec, GST is known as TPS). A Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is payable on most items purchased in shops, on food in dining establishments and, in some cases, on hotel and motel rooms. The level of PST varies from province to province. Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon are the only jurisdictions that do not charge PST. A Harmonised Sales Tax (HST) of 13% has replaced GST and PST in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and New Brunswick.

Note: Visitors may no longer reclaim GST or HST on accommodation and any goods purchased and taken out of the country.

For cameras, radios, personal computers and similar electronic products, a deposit may be requested at the port of entry; this will be refunded to the owner upon submission of proof of export.

The Canada Border Services Agency requires people arriving in the country to declare whether they intend to visit a farm within 14 days.

Banned Imports: 

The import of firearms, explosives, endangered species of animals and plants, animal products, meat, dairy, food and plant material is subject to certain restrictions and formalities. Enquire at the Canadian High Commission or Embassy for further details.

Import Restrictions:

Some products are made from endangered animals may require an export certificate

Climate & Clothing

The below guidelines apply mainly to the settled areas of southern Canada. Travellers heading to northern areas, such as the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador, should bring warm clothing for all but the summer months (and even in summer, at least a lightweight jacket is advisable)

For all months of the year, we recommend layers of clothing.  This will allow for any change in weather conditions.  Although most of Canada can enjoy warm summer temperatures, one waterproof top is always useful for occasional rain.

March: Moderate temperatures. Winter clothing with some medium weight clothing.
April: Milder days but the evenings are cool. Medium weight clothing including a topcoat and umbrella is recommended.
May: Warm days but cool at night. Medium weight and summer clothing recommended.

June: Warm, summer clothing with some medium weight clothing for cool evenings. The weather in June is ideal for travel and all outdoor activities.
July/August: These are the warmest months of the year. Lightweight summer clothing is recommended. 

September: Warm days and cool evenings. Light- to medium weight clothing recommended.
October: Cool, with the first frost in the air.
November: Cool to frosty. Medium- to heavyweight clothing is recommended. First signs of snow.
December/January/February: Winter temperatures. Winter clothing is necessary (eg overcoat, hat, boots and gloves). Heavy snowfall in most provinces.

In the winter months it is useful to take sunglasses with you as the reflection of the snow can be a strain on the eyes.  Rubber soled shoes are also recommended. 

Food & Drink

Canadian cuisine is as varied as the country. The colonial influence is still strong, with European menus available in all major cities. The French influence in Québec is easily discernible in the many restaurants that specialise in French cuisine. Areas where particular groups of immigrants have settled have their own distinct specialties; look for German-style cuisine in south-western Ontario, Ukrainian dishes on the Prairies and Asian foods in Vancouver, for instance. Waiter service in restaurants is common. Dress requirements and billing procedures vary. Imported European and 'New World' wines and spirits are widely available.

Specialities: 

  • The hundreds of miles of coastline offer varied seafood.
  • The central plains provide first-class beef and agricultural produce.
  • Some more unusual games meats include elk, bison and caribou

Voltage

The standard voltage in Canada is 110-120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style (flat) two-pin plugs are standard.  We recommend you take an international adaptor plug with you.

Passports / Identification / Safety

If you or any member of your party is not a British Citizen or holds a non-British passport, you must check passport and visa requirements with the Embassy or Consulate of the country to or through which you are intending to travel.

Please note it is a requirement in Canada to be able to show some form of identification at all times, if requested by the police or judicial authorities. In most cases it should be sufficient to carry a photocopy of the data page of your passport. However, you should be prepared to be accompanied by the police to collect the original document if necessary, or to produce it within twelve hours of notification. A driving licence or credit card is not considered sufficient proof of identity.

Problems of pick-pocketing of handbags and passports can be common in Canada especially in the major cities, as in any major tourist destination.  We would warn you always to be careful of your personal belongings and not to carry your passports/extra cash/credit cards etc unless necessary.  These should be left in a hotel safe where possible. 

You should be particularly careful of handbags and wallets - where you need to carry money and documents it is advisable to use a money belt under your clothes rather than an exposed one.

If you’re exploring on your own we recommend you carry a card or brochure containing the hotel name and address which you can then give to a taxi driver in case you become lost.

Excursions and activities

We recommend you do not purchase excursions from hotels or street vendors as these may not have been safety checked, may not meet required local standards or have adequate insurance cover.

If you choose to partake in an activity you should ensure your travel insurance covers you for that specific activity.

We recommend you heed any additional advice specific to your destination, given to you by your Tour Manager or Local guide.

Immunisations

There are currently no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Canada however we strongly recommend that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse who will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines.

This is also a good opportunity to discuss important travel health issues including safe food and water, accidents and insect bites. Many of the problems experienced by travellers cannot be prevented by vaccinations and other preventive measures need to be taken.

Mosquito Advice

As you are travelling to a region where mosquitoes are present, we strongly recommend you are adequately prepared before you start your holiday.  While the risk of you becoming infected by a mosquito is extremely small, we would not want your holiday spoiled by a nasty bite or illness that is easily preventable with some simple pre-cautionary steps.

We therefore advise (subject to consultation with a qualified pharmacist or your doctor) you purchase high performance mosquito repellent before your trip and apply this regularly during your holiday, including when you go to bed.  We would also suggest that you take with you a ‘plug-in’ mosquito repellent device for your hotel room as an extra measure. These, along with DEET based repellents, are available from most pharmacies.

The National Advisory Committee on Malaria Prevention recommends using DEET based repellents with a concentration of over 20% as these give a longer duration of protection than other types currently available. Repellents with a concentration of 50% DEET have the longest duration of protection and require fewer applications per day.

It is extremely important to re-apply throughout the day, particularly in hot or humid conditions or after swimming.  When both sunscreen and DEET are required, DEET should be applied afterwards.

Mosquitoes are active close to any open water, but their biting habits vary between species, so it’s best to assume you are at risk of being bitten at any time throughout the day or night. Remember to adequately cover your arms and legs – long trousers and sleeves are definitely a good idea. You can also spray your clothing with DEET products, but their effectiveness is shorter on clothing than on skin.

If you are bitten by a mosquito and develop a high fever for two consecutive days, you should seek urgent medical assistance.

Accommodation & Bathrooms

You will find that in some hotels in Canada there is not always uniformity of rooms, so size and shape may vary a great deal.  We cannot therefore guarantee that all rooms for our customers will be the same in each property. 

Please also note that Canadian hotels generally do provide tea/coffee-making facilities in their rooms.

In some Canadian hotels you may find there is no shower curtain or screen, in which case please be extra careful in case of slippery floors. Bathmats are not always provided.

Tap Water

Tap water everywhere contains some bacteria and different minerals. You are used to the tap water back home but when you travel, the water is different and it may upset you. For this reason it is safer to drink the bottled water. It is safe to clean your teeth with tap water.

Hand Sanitizers

It may be prudent to carry a hand sanitizer for use overseas, especially after handling money. 

Air Conditioning/Heating

In Canadian hotels which are equipped with air conditioning, the period in the season and times of day when it is operational are at the discretion of the management.

The provision of central heating is also at the discretion of the management but in compliance with the current fuel saving requirements in Canada, this is normally limited to the period from Nov-March. 

Swimming Pools (if applicable)

Where hotels have their own swimming pools, please arrange to take your own towels, as some hotels do not provide these.  Also note that many pools do not have depth markings, so always familiarise yourself with the pool before swimming.  Diving is not recommended.

Time Zones

As Canada is such a vast country (3,000 miles from coast to coast), it has been divided into time zones. 

Toronto is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Montreal is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Calgary is 7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Banff is 7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Vancouver is 8 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

From April to late October, Canada adopts ‘daylight saving time’, which is equivalent to our British Summer Time, so the time ratios remain the same between the two countries.

Coaches

Some coaches used on our Canadian holidays may be equipped with WC and washbasin however this cannot be guaranteed.  In all cases, regular comfort stops will be made to ensure a relaxing journey.

Please note that smoking is not permitted on any of our coaches.

Extra Charges

Please note that payment for any extras such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls and meals other than those included in your tour price, must be made directly to your hotel prior to departure.

Lost Property

We will endeavour to trace any lost property and provide you with contact details in order that you may recover your property.

Smoking

Smoking laws have changed throughout Canada. Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings & areas and only permitted in some designated areas outside
where ash trays are provided.

Shopping

Many of our tours take in local shops and markets and some will visit factory shops or outlets, selling a range of goods.  

However we cannot accept responsibility for the quality of the goods you have purchased or for any costs you may incur in having them delivered to your home address. 

Please ensure you have a clear understanding of the price you have agreed with the vendor and the conversion rate of local currency to sterling pounds, before signing for the sale either in cash or using your credit card.  Please exercise care when using your PIN number abroad making sure it is not visible to others.