Travelling In Canada
To make your travel a little easier, we have included relevant travel information, including laws, customs and border rules plus other pertinent tips.
Metric At A Glance
To convert kilometres to miles, multiply number of kilometres by 0.6. To convert miles to kilometres, multiply by 1.6.
|Posted Speed Limits|
CENTRAL STANDARD (CST) ZONE
Manitoba, Saskatchewan, south to Texas
MOUNTAIN STANDARD (MST) ZONE
Alberta, south to Arizona
PACIFIC STANDARD (PST) ZONE
British Columbia, south to California
Travelling with U.S. Dollars?
Exchanging U.S. funds for Canadian funds is easy at any chartered bank in the U.S. or Canada. The exchange rate varies due to stock market conditions.
All travellers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada must have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States.
Border Crossing Information
The following information is designed to help visitors cross Canadian borders with a minimum of formality. Officials at points of entry will issue any permits required for vehicles and outfits. Citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States do not require passports or visas but must have photo identification. Personal identification and proof of citizenship is required. Parents, guardians, and others crossing the border with children under the age of 18 years of age are advised to ensure that they have the child’s birth certificate and other identification for presentation at the border. For more detailed information, contact Canada Border Services Agency:
From within Canada, call 1-800-461-9999 (toll-free)
From outside Canada, call 204-983-3500 (long distance charges apply)
Check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at www.cbp.gov for the most current information on border crossing requirements. Citizenship and Immigration Canada can advise you regarding the documentation requirements.
Travelling with Children
Due to international concern over child abduction, children travelling with one parent, grandparents or other guardians should carry proof of custody or letters from the non-accompanying parent/s authorizing travel. (This is in addition to proof of the child’s citizenship.) Travellers without such documentation may experience delays when seeking admission to another country. Any person under the age of 18 and travelling alone should carry a letter from his/her parent or guardian authorizing the trip. Travellers without such documentation may experience delays at the Port of Entry.
Does my pet need a permit?
Many live animals require permits. Often animals require a health inspection in the country of origin. A domestic dog or cat travelling with the owner need only meet the rabies certification requirements.
Keeping Canada Safe
Canada’s new firearms laws help make Canada safer for both residents and visitors. These new laws will result in changes to the procedures residents and visitors have to follow.
You have to declare all firearms and weapons at customs when you enter Canada. If you do not declare all firearms or weapons, the weapons will be seized and you will face serious criminal charges. You will need documents to prove that you are entitled to possess a firearm in Canada, and you will have to transport the firearm in an approved, safe manner. In Canada, the registered owner of a firearm is legally responsible for crimes committed with the firearm, even if the firearm has been reported stolen. Be smart and be safe; leave your guns at home.
Canadian Import Restrictions
Canada’s import restrictions apply to travellers. As a general rule, every traveller entering Canada must declare all food, animals, plants and related products they are carrying. Declarable items that do not pose a risk are returned and can be brought into the country. Those that could affect Canada’s animals, plants and natural habitats are confiscated.
Entry By Automobile
Visitors should carry their motor vehicle registration forms or car rental contracts. Rental contracts should bear endorsements that the vehicles are permitted entry into Canada. International driver’s licences, as well as licences from the U.S. and other countries, are all valid in Canada.
Trucks pulling campers and boats should ensure the regulations have been met. Visitors can generally bring vehicles and trailers not exceeding 2.6 m (8’6”) in width and 23 m (75’6”) in length into Canada for touring purposes for periods up to 12 months without paying customs assessment. Obey posted speed limits. Note that the speed limit when passing police or emergency vehicles and when driving through construction zones is 60 kph.
Construction / Emergency Speed Limit
A number of people have been killed or injured working on or adjacent to the roadway. This new law will make it safer for police officers, firefighters, ambulance workers, tow truck drivers and construction workers who work on or near Canada’s busy roadways.
Motorists must slow to 60 kph or less if the posted speed is lower when passing stopped emergency vehicles (police, ambulance, fire-fighting, public utility or designated emergency response vehicle) or tow trucks on the same side of the highway with their flashing lights in operation.
Distracted Driving Laws
Canada has strict laws against distracted driving. Essentially, drivers can be charged with this offense and heavily fined if they operate any electronic device such as a cell phone right up to eating or grooming while driving. It is also an offense to drive in a way that will distract, startle or interfere with users of the highway.
The use of seat belts is mandatory for drivers and passengers in Canada. Visitors should note that an infant car seat is required for children weighing up to 9 kg (20 lbs). For residents, an infant or child car seat is required for children weighing up to 18 kg (40 lbs).
It is a criminal offense to operate, or be in the care or control of a vehicle, whether in motion or not, with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.08 milligrams of alcohol in the bloodstream.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, immediately contact the local police or RCMP.
Motor Vehicles & Trailers
Recreational vehicles (RVs) and trailers not exceeding 2.6 metres (8' 6") in width and 12.5 metres (41 feet) in length are permitted entry into Canada, for touring purposes, for periods of up to 12 months. No customs fees are payable.
Motor Vehicle Registration
Forms and proof of insurance are required for every vehicle and trailer. If the vehicle is not registered to the driver, documentation authorizing your use of the vehicle or trailer must be provided.
If the vehicle is rented from a company, the motor vehicle registration form and a copy of the rental agreement should be carried. The rental document should bear an endorsement to the effect that the rented vehicle is permitted entry into Canada. Canadian residents may not bring a U.S. rented vehicle into Canada.
Automobile Radar Detectors
Radar detection devices are illegal in Canada. In some provinces, including Ontario, Québec and Manitoba, simple possession of this device is prohibited even if it is not in use. Fines may run as high as CAD1,000 and the device will be confiscated.
Vehicle Towing Regulations
When a vehicle or trailer weighing 1,400 kg (3,087 lbs) or more is towed behind an RV, the towed vehicle must be outfitted with functional braking and emergency breakaway devices which apply the brakes at the end of the axles. Additionally, one or more safety chains that can hold the weight of the towed vehicle must be attached. A towed recreational vehicle must not exceed 12.5 metres (41 feet) in length. The maximum combined length for a recreational vehicle and trailer is 20 metres (65.6 feet).
Recreational Vehicle Towing
All trailers and towing dollies (car dollies) must have brakes on all wheels when their GVW (trailer/dolly and load) exceeds 1,400 kg (3,086 lbs). Every trailer with brakes must have a breakaway device hooked to the trailer brake system. Surge brakes must be used when towing a vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of up to and including 2,800 kg (6,173 lbs).
From 2,800 kilograms and up the towed vehicle brakes must be able to be applied by the driver of the tow vehicle. Motorhomes (only) may tow motor vehicles via a tow bar without brakes hooked up onthe towed motor vehicle, when the towed motor vehicle’s laden weight (weight of towed vehicle and its load) is less than 2,000 kg (4,409 lbs), and less than 40% of the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the motorhome towing it.
Motor vehicles with a laden weight of 2,000 kg and over towed by a motorhome must have brakes and breakaway device hooked up.
Motor Vehicle Insurance
U.S. motorists should obtain a Canadian Non-resident Interprovincial Motor Vehicle Liability Card from their insurer before travelling to Canada. Ensure that you have proof of insurance while driving in Canada. U.S. motorists should obtain a “Canadian Non-resident Inter-provincial Motor Vehicle Liability Card” (commonly known as a “Yellow Card” or “Canadian ID Card”) from their insurer prior to travelling to Canada. This insurance card indicates that you are covered with the minimum legal insurance coverage throughout Canada if you are stopped by law enforcement officials or are involved in an accident in Canada. If your insurance representative requires further information about this yellow card, they should contact:
Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR)
Bona fide gifts intended for Canadian residents may be imported by visitors duty and tax-free, provided the value of each gift does not exceed $60 (Canadian funds), and the gifts do not consist of tobacco products, alcoholic beverages or advertising material.
Banking And Currency
Traveller’s cheques and credit cards are accepted at most commercial establishments, banks and currency exchange offices. Banking hours are generally 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday; some banks are open Saturdays. The vast majority have banking machines accessible 24 / 7.
Alberta is the only province in Canada with no Provincial Sales Tax (PST). However, Alberta charges a four per cent Tourism Levy on hotel rooms. The Canadian Government charges a five per cent Goods & Services Tax (GST) on most purchases. In Saskatchewan there is a separate 10% liquor consumption tax. The non-alcoholic portion of a restaurant meal is not taxed. This chart indicates the taxes levied on most purchases at press time:
|Province||Type||Prov. Rate||Fed./Prov. Comb. Rate|
|MB||GST + PST||8%||13%|
|SK||GST + PST||5%||10%|
Duty-Free Exemption for Returning U.S. Residents
After more than 48 hours in Canada, U.S. residents may take back up to $800 fair retail value of merchandise for personal or household use free of United States duty or tax, once every 30 days. Up to 100 cigars (non-Cuban), 1L (33.8 fl. oz) of alcoholic beverage (if the resident has attained the age of 21) and 200 cigarettes (1 carton) per person may be included in the duty-free exemption. Goods must accompany the resident upon arrival in the United States. U.S. residents visiting Canada for less than 48 hours may take back $200 worth of merchandise duty-free. The following may be included, but the total fair retail value must not exceed $200; 50 cigarettes, 10 cigars (non- Cuban) 150 ml (5 fl. oz.) of alcoholic beverages or perfume containing alcohol. Products of Cuban origin are prohibited.
The legal maximum age for the purchase or consumption of alcoholic beverages in Canada varies by province. A government-issued photoidentification is required as proof of age.
Prescription drugs should be in the original packaging with a label specifying what they are and that they are being used under prescription. If this is not possible, carry with you a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor.
Sporting Goods and Equipment
Visitors may bring in sporting outfits and other equipment for their own use by declaring them at entry. All articles must be exported when the travellers leave Canada, or duty paid.
The average tip in Canada is 15 per cent. However, depending on the level and the nature of the service, tipping may range from 10 to more than 20 percent. Tips are generally given for good service by food and beverage servers in bars and restaurants, taxi drivers, tour guides, hotel bellhops and estheticians. While it is not required to tip other service staff, you are certainly at liberty to do so.
Renting a Car
All car rental companies have a strong network of outlets across Canada. To rent a car you must be 21 years old and hold a valid driver’s licence and a major credit card. (A small surcharge may apply to drivers under 25 years of age.)
Renting a Motorhome
Renting a motorhome is a convenient way to explore the Yellowhead Highway. You may purchase insurance at the time of rental. For lower rates, it is recommended that bookings be made three to four months in advance.
Weather and Road Conditions
Environment Canada maintains a website that allows instant searches for current weather conditions and forecasts. It also includes weather warnings, marine weather information, radar and satellite imaging.
To check conditions and forecasts, visit www.weatheroffice.gc.ca
For up-to-the-minute road reports, call 5-1-1
Weather on Demand
For weather forecasts, road conditions, park forecasts, UV and pollen reports:
Call 1-900-565- WEATHER(across Canada)
Callers must be 18 years or older; $1.50 minute.
BC Ferries serves almost 50 points of call along the BC coastline. For information on fares, routes and times, or to make reservations:
Call 1-888 BC FERRY (toll free in North America)
National Park Entry
Permits are required for entry into any national park in Canada. You can purchase a day pass at a park gate, but if you intend to spend some time exploring the vast network of parks, national historic sites and marine conservation areas consider buying an annual National Parks of Canada pass. The pass is valid for one year from the date of purchase. Also included with the annual pass is a booklet of discount coupons.
Camping is available throughout the four Western provinces along the Yellowhead Highway in private campgrounds and resorts, national parks and provincial parks. Reservations can be made at private campgrounds and in certain parks. Camping fees range from $10-$40 per night, depending on services.
Visitor Information Centres
Most communities along the Yellowhead Highway offer a Visitor Information Centre that provides a rest stop, travel guides and updated travel information.
In emergency situations, contact the local police, ambulance service or fire department by calling 911.
Tourist Alert Program
The news media, visitor information centres and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are frequently requested to communicate urgent messages to people on vacation in Canada. The Tourist Alert Program operates from June until September. If you see your name listed in newspapers, at Visitor Information Centres or hear it on the radio, call the nearest RCMP office immediately.