International Experience Canada (IEC) Requirements 2021

All travellers planning to visit Canada for up to two years on an International Experience Canada (a.k.a. Working Holiday) visa are required to have private travel insurance, which meets the government of Canada's basic IEC visa insurance requirements. New for 2021, the government of Canada has announced that all new arrivals must receive a negative COVID-19 test in order to board their flights to Canada (see advisory here).

According to the government of Canada's CIC website concerning IEC requirements, the insurance must cover health and hospitalization expenses, as well as repatriation costs in the event of a death or emergency return to one's home country.

The insurance is to be held in place for the entire duration that someone remains in Canada under their IEC visa, regardless of whether they become covered by a provincial government health insurance plan (GHIP). Specifically, the CIC states that: 

The insurance must cover:

  • medical care
  • hospitalization
    • That is, it must cover the cost of you staying in a hospital for medical care (if required)
  • repatriation
    • That is, it must cover the cost of getting you:
      • to a medical facility
      • back to your home country or
      • returning your remains to your home country


When you arrive at the port of entry, you must have health insurance valid for your entire stay in Canada. Having a valid provincial health card is not enough. Repatriation is not covered by provincial health insurance.

If your insurance policy is valid for less than your expected stay, you will be issued a work permit that expires at the same time as your insurance. If this happens, you will not be able to apply to change the conditions of your work permit later.

Private Travel Insurance for IEC:

Private travel/health insurance plans for visitors to Canada — such as those required by IEC travellers — cover emergency medical expenses that are paid for accidental injuries or emergency illnesses. There are always restrictions and limitations when it comes to private plans. For example, no expenses to be paid for someone that injures themselves while intoxicated or knew that they would need to seek medical attention before purchasing, etc. In contrast, GHIP coverage does not have these same restrictions and limitations.

But GHIP coverage will not cover repatriation costs — and because there is no requirement to enrol in provincial GHIP plans (and IEC visa holders need to meet certain employment conditions to enrol), and because it often takes several months before GHIP coverage begins after enrolling (in provinces such as BC, Ontario and Quebec) the IEC program for those entering Canada requires private insurance during your entire stay in Canada. 

Private travel insurance does cover some things that provincial GHIP plans do not. In addition to repatriation benefits designed to help take a deceased traveller back to their home country, or to return a traveller to their home country in the event of an emergency illness, private plans will pay for ambulance expenses (not usually covered by provincial GHIP!), costs incurred during side trips outside Canada, non-emergency expenses related to hospital visits by injured/sick or their family members, etc. 

Canada's International Experience Canada (IEC) program 'secures bilateral reciprocal youth mobility arrangements and agreements with different countries around the world to make it easier for you to travel and work in other countries for up to two years.' If you are a young Canadian participating in the IEC program, please see our Working Holiday Visa page.


For visitors to Canada under the IEC program, work permits are available to young people aged 18-35 who are from one of the (over 30) countries that have a bilateral agreement with Canada. Each country has its list of application requirements. Some countries such as Brazil and Argentina do not have a bilateral agreement. However, citizens of such countries can still apply for an IEC visa for up to one year by using a Recognized Organization. Visas should be applied for before travelling to Canada. 

Upon arrival in Canada, IEC program participants will be asked to present their passport and visa, proof of funds for living expenses and proof of comprehensive insurance coverage before receiving their work permit. The IEC work visa will only be issued for the length of time that the traveller can show insurance coverage. So don't expect to receive a two year IEC visa with only one year of insurance coverage.

Please also note that, while a Recognized Organization may be able to assist you with the IEC application, you are not required to use them to purchase the VTC health insurance (and can do much better by looking at the options listed on this website).


Get a free instant quote to research Canadian IEC insurance options:

The quote engine on the left-hand side of this page allows travellers to get a free instant quote and view a list of available policies under the 'IEC Visa Insurance' category, and then purchase a policy online. Useful policy information (prices, benefits, important secondary benefits, refund policies, etc.) that you can review and compare is provided on the quote presentation page. If you came to this website to research your insurance options, you can't do that without getting a quote!

Start by choosing 'IEC Visa Insurance', and 'Emergency Medical', then select the dates that match up with your intended stay in Canada and provide the traveller's date of birth and email address — and the quote will appear instantly (we'll also email you a link to your quote for future reference). If you have any problems receiving a quote or have some specific questions you need to ask (about pre-existing medical conditions, sports coverage, etc.), don't hesitate to call us (1-888-888-0510).

After purchasing online, confirmation of coverage and policy document(s) will be emailed to you as soon as your purchase is processed. We suggest that you (or a family member) keep a copy for your records, and also print out a copy and carry it with you to show as proof of insurance at the border when you enter Canada.


Two-Year Insurance for IEC Canada — Working Holiday!

While most working holiday insurance policies are only available for up to 12 or 18 months, BestQuote Travel Insurance Agency's quote engine has several IEC policies that are available for up to two years at a time, which means that you are from Ireland, the UK, France, Australia, Portugal or New Zealand (max 23 months) — you can receive a two-year visa — eliminating the uncertainty of needing to re-apply for any visa extension! 


So, what does IEC health insurance cost?

BestQuote has a policy issued through Lloyd's Underwriters (A+ 'Very Strong' financial rating from Standard & Poor's) which has been designed specifically for the IEC traveller. It provides the required health and repatriation benefits, and automatically covers basic skiing/snowboarding, and allows for side trips outside Canada (unlimited trips up to 35 days).  

The BestQuote MedEC Visitors Health and Repatriation Insurance policy is shown at the top of your quote (please get an instant quote by filling in quote request form — most of the policy information is on the quote presentation page). The cost has been reduced significantly because of BestQuote's cover holder status with Lloyd's (we are approved to issue the insurance coverage directly ourselves, 'cutting out the middleman'), and because of the lower risk group involved (younger and relatively healthy travellers) compared to other available insurance policies (that also insure older travellers).  

This has allowed us to lower the cost for travellers less than age 31 to $1,168 (CAD) for 2 years coverage for $100,000 sum insured with $0 deductible.  

Or, for example, with $50,000 sum insured and a $250 deductible, two years coverage costs just $843.15 for 730 days — $421.58 for one year. 

There are various coverage amounts available, and various deductible (a.k.a. 'Excess') amounts to choose from on your quote page which can increase or decrease the required premium from the above-mentioned amounts. There is a further 5% discount for travellers purchasing more than one policy at a time. The policy is available past age 30 at a slightly higher price. 

The BestQuote MedEC Visitors policy uses one of Canada's largest, most reputable and well-managed claims management companies to deal with any problems 24/7 365 days a year. It is underwritten through and financially backed up by Lloyd's — the world's specialist insurance and reinsurance market for over 300 years. It took us much work to secure this policy for our customers, and to arrange high-quality coverage at an affordable price. 


Take advantage of this coverage, and enjoy your working holiday experience here in Canada.

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From Auckland, New Zealand. Thanks, good service. Helpful explanations specific to questions I had about the products and relation to my visa
From Wellington, New Zealand: Best Quote customer service was excellent. My questions were answered promptly and with great detail. Their website is easy to use as well.
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