Do I Need Medical Insurance to Travel to Canada? What You Need to Know

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Airport signage directs international arrivals to their destination.

Having health insurance offers peace of mind if you face a medical issue. Carrying this coverage can be especially important when visiting a foreign country. 

Do you need medical insurance to travel to Canada? There isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” answer. The truth is that travel medical insurance is sometimes required and sometimes simply a good idea. In certain scenarios, you may even have health coverage supplied to you, although these situations are relatively rare.

Let’s take a closer look at common reasons people visit Canada. We’ll focus on the requirements for guests in Canada in terms of travel insurance.

Reasons to Visit Canada and Related Health Insurance Requirements

A planting of red and white begonias shaped like the Canadian flag sits with the Rocky Mountains in the distant background.


Tourism numbers for Canada understandably dropped in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, more than 4 million international residents visited Canada in 2021, according to Statista.

In terms of sheer volume, a vacation is clearly one of the most popular reasons for visitors to cross the border. What are the requirements for travel health insurance in Canada for guests coming from outside the country?

There isn’t a requirement to carry travel insurance as a tourist. Unless unusual circumstances are involved, customs officials won’t turn you back at the border for not having proof of coverage. 

However, the Government of Canada recommends buying medical insurance for a Canadian trip. The country’s universal, single-payer healthcare system does not extend to non-resident vacationers. 

Hospitals and other providers won’t deny care, at least in an emergency situation. But they will charge you for providing it. And those costs can quickly become substantial.

Facing a medical emergency — and emergency medical expenses — while traveling can do a lot more than disrupt your trip. Because you’ll be responsible for the costs of care, that medical issue can also create serious financial problems.

Check out our options for Canadian health insurance for non-residents.

Super Visa: Parents and Grandparents

Canada’s Super Visa program for parents and grandparents is an exciting concept. The Super Visa makes it easy for older relatives to visit family in the country for an extended period of time. It also helps families as they apply for their older loved one’s permanent residence in Canada.

This visa can cover a time period of as long as 10 years. Multiple entries are allowed and maximum single visits of as long as five years are possible.

This Super Visa program is designed for visitors who aren’t expected to hold jobs or study. Therefore, it incorporates some special requirements for applicants. 

That includes the promise of financial support from the child or grandchild inviting the Super Visa holder. Participants must also have Super Visa medical insurance: coverage that meets the standards set by the Canadian government. This coverage must last for a minimum of one year and provide $100,000 of coverage, again at a minimum.

Super Visa visitors can be turned back when arriving in Canada for failing to prove they have coverage. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure you have the necessary travel medical insurance for an extended trip to Canada.

Education: Studying in Canada

Canada has highly respected universities educating students from coast to coast. It’s not surprising that people from all over the world travel to Canada to advance their education.

Do you need travel medical insurance in Canada as a student? Many schools offer plans for international students, and they can come at a good value. However, we encourage you to review the international student insurance plans we have available. You may find a plan at a lower cost, or one that better suits your needs.

Saving money as a student is always important. Reviewing your health insurance options helps you do exactly that.

IEC Program Participants: Working and Travelling

International Experience Canada (IEC) offers opportunities for international visitors. Common reasons people apply to the program include taking a working holiday and building experience to advance their careers. In many cases, having IEC health insurance is a critical part of a successful application and gaining entry to Canada.

A qualifying IEC insurance policy must offer financial protection for health care and hospitalization expenses. It even needs to cover the costs of medical repatriation or untimely death.

At Best Quote Travel Insurance, we help people of all nationalities taking part in IEC find effective and compliant coverage. Learn more about our options for IEC insurance.

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