How to get there:
BA, SAA, Delta and KLM have non direct flights daily to Toronto. Air France and SAA each have a non direct flight once a week to Quebec
You must be 19 years of age to consume or purchase alcohol in the province of British Columbia. The minimum age varies from province to province. Drinking alcohol in public is prohibited by law in all of Canada.
Like the USA, residential Canada uses 110 volt electrical systems at 60 hertz. You will need a voltage transformer/ converter for your electrical appliances if they operate on a different voltage.
Office hours are usually from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Banking hours are usually:
10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., Friday.
Many banks are also open 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Saturday
Post offices are usually open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Canada is officially bilingual (English and French), however the working language in British Columbia is English.
1 Canadian Dollar (Can$) = 100 cents.
Many grocery and convenience stores, airports, and bus, train and ferry stations have ATMs. Most are linked to international networks, the most common being Cirrus, Plus, Star and Maestro.
Major credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa and American Express are widely accepted in Canada, except in remote, rural communities where cash is king. You’ll find it hard or impossible to rent a car, book a room or order tickets over the phone without a credit card. Note that some credit card companies charge a ‘transaction fee’ (around 3% of whatever you purchased); check with your provider to avoid surprises. Carry copies of your credit card numbers separately from the cards and immediately report lost or stolen cards.
American Express (866-296-5198; www.americanexpress.com)
MasterCard (800-307-7309; www.mastercard.com)
Visa (800-847-2911; www.visa.com)
Traveler’s cheques are becoming more and more obsolete in the age of ATMs. Still, they may come in handy as a backup. Traveler’s cheques issued in Canadian dollars are generally treated like cash by businesses. Traveler’s cheques in most other currencies must be exchanged for Canadian dollars at a bank or foreign currency office. For lost or stolen checks call the issuer.
Canada uses the metric system. Distance is measured in kilometers, speed signs are in kilometers per hour. Petrol/gas is sold by the litre and temperature is measured on the Celsius scale. Most weight measurements are in kilograms or grams.
If you wish to receive post while in Canada, have it sent to a city’s main post office marked with your name, c/o General Delivery. The post office will hold it for two weeks, before returning to sender, and you will need ID to collect.
Basic postal services are available at retail outlets. Look for them at the back of drug (chemists) and convenience stores. The fewer full service postal offices are in main urban centers.
In Canada the Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7% applies throughout the nation. It is added to most purchases and services (including postage stamps) with the exception of basic groceries. In addition to the GST, there is also a tax that varies from province to province. So remember, what you see on the price tag is not necessarily what you will pay. In some stores, the GST is already included in the price tag, but most often it is added at the point of sale. The PST is almost always added at the cash register. This also applies to accommodation. Check whether the quoted price includes all tax requirements. Check whether an establishment is exempt from any of these taxes – sometimes this can mean you will get a better deal.
Dialing into Canada:
1 + area code + local number
Emergencies: dial 911 (police, ambulance, fire), free call
Information: dial 411 (for telephone numbers), free call
Toll free: numbers begin with 1-800, or 1-888
Pre-paid plastic calling cards are available from convenience stores.
Like the USA, in Canada it is customary to tip for services such as restaurants, bars and pubs, taxis and hairdressers. Usually 15%, although the amount can range from 10% to 20% at the discretion of the person paying the bill. Always check whether a service charge was included in a restaurant bill, especially if paying by credit card, as this is the tip.