You must hold a valid passport of your country of citizenship/residency. In the event of lost travel documents, many local consular offices can assist you while in Canada.
In most urban jurisdictions, for police, fires, and ambulance emergency calls, dial 911, a free assistance number on all public telephones.
English and French are the 2 official languages in Canada. Within Quebec, French is the language spoken by the majority, and is the official language of business. English is widely understood. The province of New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada, and English is the language of business in the rest of the country.
System of measure
In Canada, measurements are in the metric system – we speak of kilometres, kilograms and litres.
Relative to much of the European continent, it is 6 hours earlier in Quebec, 8 hours in Alberta and 9 hours earlier in British Columbia. Thus when it is noon in Paris or London, it is only 6 am in Montreal. (Canada spans 6 time zones!)
Legal tender is the Canadian dollar, divided in 100 cents. Paper money comes in 5, 10, 20. 50 and 100 dollar denominations. There are 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents coins, and 1 and 2 dollar coins – divisions much like the Euro.
All the more common credit cards are generally accepted in Canadian establishments: Visa, MasterCard et American Express. In Canada, credit cards have bank affiliations: Visa is associated with Caisse Desjardins, CIBC the Royal Bank. MasterCard : National Bank, and the Bank of Montreal (BMo).
Automatic teller machines (ATM) are found in financial institutions, charging bank fees, and commercial areas, charging service charges. Most are open 24/7. Note that to obtain cash from an ATM you will use your credit card, and money will have the terms of a cash advance on your card. Cheque cards and other debit cards are not always accessible from foreign banks. Regarding traveller’s cheques, they are negotiable at large hotels, some restaurants and large stores in urban areas. Otherwise they can be cashed at banks during business hours, or at currency exchange kiosks. Banks are generally open between 10 am and 3 pm, some until 4 or 5pm, Monday through Friday.
Household electric current
As in the rest of North America, the standard current is 110 volts. Electric sockets do not accept European plug configurations, so plug and voltage adapters are required. Generally, larger hotels have hairdryers in the rooms and can loan plug adapters for 110 V compatible items.
To call outside Canada, dial 011 followed by the country code and then the number. Many public pay telephones are equipped to read your credit card to pay for your call. The most reasonably priced long distance calling is through the use of calling cards, available in different preloaded values. These can be purchased in convenience stores. Numbers commencing with 1-8(XX) are toll free numbers and can be called from anywhere within Canada.
Quebec and Ontario have true 4 season climate, each with their own distinctive weather patterns. Summers are marked by hot days, typically with significantly cooler evenings. Air conditioning is present throughout malls, shops and restaurants, so a sweater may be advisable indoors, though the summer heat will be very striking when you exit again. British Columbia has a less severe heat, though don’t forget your umbrella! Winter temperatures can range from -10 to -30 degrees centigrade, but the air is dry and crisp, and typically Canadian winters are bright, with blue skies. Sunshine hours in winter are significantly more plentiful in Canada than in Europe.
Note that prices indicated on signs and pricetags do not include tax. There is a federal goods and services tax (GST) as well as provincial sales tax. The latter varies from one province to another, or may be harmonized together with the federal tax. In Quebec, federal and provincial taxes add up to 15%, in Ontario, the harmonized tax rate is 13%.
Service and Tips
For meal and beverage services that are not part of your package, note that bars and restaurant bills do not include service. A tip of 15% of the before-tax total bill is the typical gratuity. It is also customary to tip your guide and driver – the suggestion is $3 (CAD per person per day for each of the driver and guide. City tour guide tips are typically $1 (CAD) per person. This custom is not obligatory, but remains the best way to reflect your satisfaction with the service you receive.
No vaccinations are required