As an affluent, high-tech industrial society in the trillion dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and affluent living standards. Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US. Given its great natural resources, skilled labor force, and modern capital plant, Canada enjoys solid economic prospects. Top-notch fiscal management has produced consecutive balanced budgets since 1997, although public debate continues over how to manage the rising cost of the publicly funded healthcare system. Exports account for roughly a third of GDP. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with its principal trading partner, the US, which absorbs more than 85% of Canadian exports. Canada is the US' largest foreign supplier of energy, including oil, gas, uranium, and electric power.
Canadian natural resources include iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, molybdenum, potash, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, natural gas, hydropower
second-largest country in world (after Russia); strategic location between Russia and US via north polar route; approximately 90% of the population is concentrated within 160 km of the US border
Canadian religion is Roman Catholic 42.6%, Protestant 23.3% (including United Church 9.5%, Anglican 6.8%, Baptist 2.4%, Lutheran 2%), other Christian 4.4%, Muslim 1.9%, other and unspecified 11.8%, none 16% (2001 census).
Natural hazards in Canada include continuous permafrost in north is a serious obstacle to development; cyclonic storms form east of the Rocky Mountains, a result of the mixing of air masses from the Arctic, Pacific, and North American interior, and produce most of the country's rain and snow east of the mountains.
Travel Advice for CanadaCanada
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary. The overall level of the advice has not changed.SUMMARY
SAFETY AND SECURITY
- You should be aware of the global threat of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could take place in public areas, including those frequented by foreigners. The Canadian authorities have carried out a number of arrests as a result of investigations into terrorist networks.
- Tornadoes can occur almost anywhere in Canada, normally from May to September. The Canadian winter can be severe. Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice.
- Around 650,000 British nationals visit Canada each year. Most visits are trouble free. Being arrested for smuggling Qhat (Khat) is the most common reason that British nationals require consular assistance in Canada. The plant is illegal in Canada. Smugglers are regularly caught and face a term of imprisonment.
- If you intend to travel on to the United States you should check the entry requirements of the US authorities (see the US Section of the FCO's Travel Advice).
- We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
You should use common sense and take basic precautions. Bear in mind the following:
If staying in a hotel, do not leave your door open at any time;
Do not leave your handbag or luggage unattended in reception or dining areas as thieves often target tourist hotels;
Keep passports, tickets and large sums of cash in a safety deposit box or hotel safe;
Avoid leaving luggage on display in cars.
Canada Country Profile.
All forms of public transport are generally excellent. Be aware that each province and territory has the authority to establish its own traffic and safety laws.
Canadians drive on the right side of the road. Seat belts are compulsory and right turns on red lights are permitted except in some parts of Quebec. You should not drink and drive.
You should apply for an International Driving Permit from either the AA, the RAC, RSAC or Green Flag Motoring Assistance Recovery Club. This will allow you to drive in Canada and hire a car. Carry both this Permit and your UK driving licence with you whilst driving as being stopped without these documents may result in a fine. Distances and speed limits are posted in metric (usually 100 km/h or 60 mph on highways and 50 km/h or 30 mph in towns and cities).
You should take out full insurance cover if you intend to rent a vehicle.
Obey speed limits and take extra care when travelling on country roads and be aware of possible encounters with wild animals such as deer, elk, and moose.
Winter driving can be dangerous due to heavy snowfalls and ice that make road conditions hazardous. Some roads, especially in rural areas may be closed due to weather. The use of snow chains or snow tyres may also be necessary on some routes. Many Canadian motorists consider snow tyres a sensible and necessary precaution throughout winter.
Check the weather forecast before travelling, and play special attention to the wind-chill factor as this can create dangerously cold outdoor conditions.
Weather reports are broadcast on local and national TV and radio and on the internet: www.weather-network.com. For detailed information on road conditions throughout Canada, please see the Transport Canada web site at http://www.tc.gc.ca or The Canadian Automobile Association site at http://www.caa.ca, both of which of which provide tips for travelling safely on Canadian roads.LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
Do not make off-the-cuff or flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through Canadian airports. A number of increased security measures remain in place at airports. You should check the Transport Canada website at http://www.tc.gc.ca for details.
You should not attempt to carry meat, animal or dairy products into Canada at any time without declaring these products to Canada Customs. Banned food products will be confiscated and you could be subjected to severe penalties. Further information can be obtained from: Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Canada Customs require you to declare if you intend to visit a farm within 14 days of arrival.
The plant Qhat (Khat), although legal in the UK, is illegal in Canada. You should not attempt to bring this plant into Canada. Penalties for possession of Qhat include imprisonment for up to 10 years.
For more information on custom regulations in Canada check: Canadian Border Services AgencyENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Visas are not generally required for British Citizens visiting Canada for short periods. However, other categories of British nationals should check requirements before making firm plans. If in any doubt contact the Visa Section of the Canadian High Commission: Canadian Representation in London.
If you are travelling with children, and where only one parent is present, you should bear in mind that it is advisable to carry a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent. Immigration officers have the right to question children using simple and appropriate language, to establish if there are any child abduction concerns. There is discretion, but this depends on the attitude of the accompanying parent. A letter of consent will help to dispel potential concerns, and should refer to the travel details in question and provide the necessary agreement to the visit.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada at website: http://www.cic.gc.ca also provides complete and up-to-date information on the entry requirements and status of travel in Canada.
If you intend to travel on to the United States you should check the entry requirements of the US authorities (see the US section of the FCO’s Travel Advice).HEALTH
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
Canadian hospitals and medical services are generally very good. However, the cost of medical treatment can be very expensive and there are no special arrangements for British visitors. The British High Commission and Consulates-General cannot assist with medical expenses either.
Winter weather conditions in Canada can become severe very quickly. Depending on the region, temperatures can fall minus 20C for long periods. Wind chill, freezing rain and blizzards all pose a hazard to those venturing outside. You are strongly advised to obtain local information for the area you will be visiting.
In extreme cold condition you should avoid strenuous activity and cover your mouth to protect your lungs from the cold air. You should be alert for signs of frostbite. Sunglasses help cut down on glare, particularly where there is extensive snow cover, and reduce the effects of ultraviolet rays.
Rabies is a problem in most of Canada and can be spread by small animals such as racoons and bats. You should seek urgent medical advice if bitten by a wild animal.
Additional advice can also be found on the information for travellers’ page on Health Canada’s website at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health website.
Summer thunderstorms are fairly frequent in most parts of Canada. Unfortunately, a small number of these intensify becoming severe and causing property damage, and threaten lives.
Tornadoes can occur almost anywhere in Canada. May to September are the main tornado months with the peak season in June and early July in southern Ontario, Alberta, south eastern Quebec, and a band stretching from southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba through to Thunder Bay. The interior of British Columbia and western New Brunswick are also tornado zones. You should also continue to monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation, on local television and radio and follow any instructions from Canadian officials or law enforcement personnel. You can also access the http://www.nhc.noaa.gov for updates.
If you intend to ski in Canada you should be aware of the possibility of avalanches. Back-country hiking and skiing are popular in Canada. It is particularly important that anyone intending to ski, hike or travel away from maintained pistes and tracks understand the risks involved, and monitor local weather and avalanche warnings. Information on avalanche conditions can be found at www.avalanche.ca.
During the winter highways are often closed in Alberta and British Colombia by avalanches.
Forest fires can break out at anytime, regardless of the season. In the grasslands and forests of western Canada the fire hazard is frequently higher. Lightly populated forest areas in British Columbia and Alberta have been particularly badly affected in recent years and you should heed local warnings and monitor news bulletins for latest details on local outbreaks.
For more information visit Environment Canada at their web site http://www.ec.gc.ca.GENERAL
If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.
If your passport has been lost or stolen, contact the local police and the nearest British High Commission or Consulate immediately.
Canadian cities have a "911" emergency telephone service. If this does not work, simply dial "0" and ask the operator to connect you to the police or medical services. There is no charge for emergency calls placed from a public pay phone.
Ensure that for all flights (other than your UK departure flight), you call the airline locally to reconfirm your flight times at least 48 hours prior to departure. You should note that the majority of airlines are continuing to recommend up to a 3-hour check-in for international departures due to the increased security.
If you are on a package holiday you should travel without fail on the specified return date. Otherwise you may have to purchase a return ticket.
For complete tourist information contact the Canadian National Tourist Organisation via their website at: http://www.travelcanada.ca.