- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Canada. You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
- From March 2016, all Australians travelling to, or transiting through Canada, including those who currently do not need visas, will need to obtain an electronic travel authorisation (eTA). You can apply for an eTA online, or visit the Canadian government’s eTA website for more information. See Entry and exit.
- You should be aware that Canadian medical and health services may require you to pay in full at the time of receiving the service as there are no reciprocal healthcare agreements in place between Australia and Canada. Travel insurance is strongly recommended, including for dual Australian-Canadian citizens who may not be eligible for free Canadian healthcare due to provincial residential requirements. See Health.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive email updates each time it's reissued
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Electronic Travel Authorisation
From March 2016, all Australians travelling to, or transiting through Canada, including those who currently do not need visas, will be required to obtain an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) before commencing travel. You can apply for an eTA online, or visit the Canadian government’s eTA website for more information.
Australians who have a criminal record may not be allowed to enter Canada, and should contact the nearest Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate early when planning travel to Canada.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Canadian High Commission or Consulate for the most up to date information. Visa information is also available from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Further information on travel document requirements, travelling with pets, travelling with children and bringing goods into Canada is available from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
It is your responsibility to ensure your travel document/passport and visa remain valid during your stay in Canada. Penalties may apply if you overstay your visa.
If you are travelling to Canada through the United States of America (USA), or if you are transiting Honolulu or another US point of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check your visa requirements with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States well in advance of your travel. You will also find information on US entry and exit requirements in our travel advice for the United States of America.
Children travelling alone or with only one parent should carry a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent(s). The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) may question you or the child regarding the child’s status and supporting documentation may be beneficial. More information is available at the CBSA website.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
The crime rate in Canada is similar to that in Australia. Crime is more likely in large cities.
Petty crime such as pick pocketing and street theft can occur at tourist destinations, hotels and on public transport.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves. In larger cities, theft from unattended vehicles is common.
On 20 October 2014, a member of the Canadian security forces was killed and another injured in a suspected militant attack at a shopping centre in Quebec. On 22 October, a security incident in the Parliament Hill area of Ottawa resulted in the death of another member of the security forces.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.
Money and valuables
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
In Canada, local traffic and safety laws are determined by provincial governments and may differ slightly between provinces.
Wearing seat belts is mandatory for all occupants travelling in a motor vehicle, and child car seats must be used by children weighing less than 40 pounds (18 kilograms).
Heavy snowfalls, freezing rain and icy conditions make driving in Canada during winter particularly treacherous. Car accidents, including fatalities, are more prevalent during such conditions; drivers are urged to take appropriate precautions, including applying snow tires (which are required in many provinces) and making sure sufficient water, food and blankets are kept in vehicles over winter. The Canadian Automobile Association provides helpful tips.
Environment Canada provides detailed information on weather conditions across Canada.
The British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure provides links to provincial road condition website, and the Transport Canada website provides detailed information on road conditions across Canada. Also see our road travel page.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
Beware of bears and dangerous wildlife forested areas and obtain local advice before setting out on hikes in areas inhabited by these animals.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Canada.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Canada, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If arrested in Canada, you have the right to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities advise the nearest Australian High Commission or Consulate of your arrest.
Australians visiting Canada for the purposes of commissioning commercial surrogacy arrangements should seek independent legal advice before doing so. You should see our Overseas births, adoptions and surrogacies page for further information.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
The standard of health facilities in Canada is comparable with that in Australia but the provincially run health care systems are not easily accessible to temporary visitors. Many physicians will not take new patients, however walk-in medical clinics are available in major cities. Visitors who seek medical attention in Canada should be prepared to pay in full at the time the service is provided. This includes dual nationals who may not be eligible for free Canadian healthcare due to provincial residential requirements. There is no reciprocal health care agreement in place between Australia and Canada.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Before travelling you should contact Health Canada for the most up to date information on what you must do and the documents you need to be able to travel into Canada with medication, including ‘over-the-counter’ and prescription drugs. Even if your medication is not on the list of restricted and controlled drugs, you should carry a copy of your prescription, a letter from your doctor and carry all medication in its original packaging. This applies while you are taking medication which is detectable in your system. Ensure you check the generic names of your medication with your doctor or pharmacist.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
For criminal issues, contact the local police on 911. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime. The national emergency number is also 911.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:
Australian High Commission, Ottawa
If you are in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario (excluding the south-western corner below Kingston), Prince Edward Island, or Quebec, you should contact the Australian High Commission in Ottawa:
Suite 710, 50 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L2 CANADA
Telephone +1 (613) 236 0841
Facsimile +1 (613) 786 7621
Facebook: Australia in Canada
See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
Australian Consulate General, Toronto
If you are in the Greater Toronto Area (the south-western corner of Ontario below Kingston), you should contact the Australian Consulate General in Toronto:
Suite 1100, South Tower
175 Bloor Street East
Toronto, Ontario M4W 3R8 CANADA
Telephone +1 416 323 4280
Facsimile +1 416 323 4295
You should telephone the Consulate General in advance to arrange an appointment for passport and notarial services.
Australian Consulate, Vancouver
If you are in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan or Yukon Territory, you should contact the Australian Consulate in Vancouver:
Suite 2050, 1075 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 3C9 CANADA
Telephone +1 604 694 6160
Facsimile +1 604 684 1856
You should telephone the Consulate in advance to arrange an appointment for passport and notorial services.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission, Consulate General, or Consulate you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
If you are travelling to Canada, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register on-line or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate . The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Winter in Canada can bring heavy snowfalls, rain, ice and severe cold. The wind-chill factor can make it feel significantly colder than the air temperature actually is, creating dangerously cold outdoor conditions. Temperatures of -20 to -30 degrees Celsius, with a wind-chill factor as much as 10-15 degrees lower, are not uncommon in some areas.
Some mountainous areas of Alberta and British Columbia are subject to winter avalanches. Skiing, snowboarding and riding skidoos (snow mobiles) on closed trails is unsafe and should not be undertaken.
Winter sports can be risky, even fatal, and injuries are common even for the most experienced. It is vital to confirm whether your travel insurance will cover any sporting activity you consider undertaking while overseas.
As a security precaution, whatever time of the year, please ensure you advise friends and family of your proposed ski or hiking route and what time you expect to return.
During summer, temperatures in many parts of Canada can reach more than 30 degrees Celsius. Many areas experience humid air that can make the temperature feel as much as 10-15 degrees higher. These conditions can generate severe storms with the potential for tornadoes, especially across the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Forest fires can occur in Canada during the warmer months (June - August). Check local media before visiting forested areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
The province of British Columbia in western Canada is in an active earthquake zone. Although less frequent, earthquakes have also occurred in Quebec and Ontario, in eastern Canada. Information on earthquakes is available from Earthquakes Canada.
Hurricanes can occur in the Atlantic Provinces from June to November and tornadoes occur in some areas of Canada between April and September. Environment Canada and the US National Hurricane Centre provide information on hurricanes and tornados. In the event of a hurricane or tornado you should monitor local television and radio for up to date information and follow the instructions of authorities.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the US Tsunami warning Centre website, or the Australian Government's Tsunami Awareness brochure.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. The Canadian Government’s 'Get Prepared' website provides information on natural hazards in Canada and advice on how to be prepared.