In 2019, 21 million tourists visited Canada. That’s a record-breaking amount of people from other countries entering various different entry points all throughout the country, with tourists from China, France, and Mexico being the most common. Although those numbers dramatically dropped during the Covid 19 pandemic, the Great White North is starting to see those numbers increase again, especially with restrictions slowly beginning to lift.
Did all of these tourists need to apply for a Canada tourist visa before entering the country? Good question!
The answer depends on the country you’re from and your reason for visiting. Depending on the kind of visa you need to get, you might also need to show proof of travel insurance.
Sound confusing? It’s not, really. But, we’ve designed this travel visa guide for you to help you make sense of what you need and how to get it.
Who Needs a Visitor Visa in Canada?
If you’ve ever traveled to faraway places such as Asia, Africa, or even parts of Europe, you might have had to apply for a tourist visa just to enter the country.
As a Canadian, you can actually enter up to 172 countries without a visa. At the time this article was updated in 2022, that number climbed to 184. However, people from other countries sometimes need a visa to enter Canada.
A Canada visitor visa from the USA isn’t necessary if an American citizen is going to stay for less than 180 days. But, you will still need to get an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization).
The same rules and requirements apply to most passport holders from most countries in Europe. Passport holders from countries like Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, and Korea also don’t require a tourist visa but will need to apply for an eTA.
If you are from South America, Africa, or areas in Southeast Asia, it’s likely that you need a tourist visa.
You can take a look at the entire list of visa-exempt countries, or you can take advantage of the Government of Canada’s helpful visa tool.
Simply enter your information, your reason for visiting, and a few other specifics, and the tool will tell you exactly what you need.
What to Know About the Canada Tourist Visa
If you are from one of the countries that are not exempt from applying for a Canadian tourist visa, then your first order of business will be to make sure you meet all of the requirements to get one.
You will need to show proof of a few things to immigration authorities, like:
- A valid passport
- The financial resources to pay for your expenses while you’re in Canada
- Proof that you plan to leave Canada at a certain date before your visa expires
- Proof that you don’t plan to seek employment while in Canada
- No criminal record
- Possible medical examination
This isn’t an exhaustive list, which you can find on the Canadian government travel website.
While travel insurance isn’t on this list, we recommend getting travel insurance before going anywhere outside of your home country. However, we’ll get to that a bit later, as it is a requirement for other types of Canadian visas.
To prepare to apply for a Canadian visa, you can apply online or in person.
To apply for a Canadian tourist visa online you’ll need to have access to a credit card and a scanner or camera to make copies of your documents. You can find the online application here.
To apply in person, you’ll need to download that same visa application, fill it out, and then complete the following steps.
Once you’ve completed your application, you’ll need to pay the application fees before submitting all of the paperwork or heading to the closest Canadian embassy.
You have to pay these fees via bank transfer or a certified check. It’s important to check the website regarding current fees as they can change from year to year.
Make sure you have the most up-to-date information regarding visa application fees before soliciting your check or making any kind of transfer!
Now, you’re ready to submit your paperwork.
Applying for Your Visitor Visa
Once you’ve filled out the paperwork and paid the fees, you’ll need to take everything to your nearest Canadian Visa Application Center.
This is important to note, as you don’t have to go all the way to an embassy to get this visa.
When you go to the application center, remember to bring everything with you, including:
- Your passport
- Photographs for the visa if it’s a requirement
- All supporting documents
- Proof of payment
- Any other additional information you want to show to get the visa
Once you pay and submit your paperwork, the office will give you a receipt with a tracking number on it. You can use this tracking number to track the status of your application online.
It’s important to note that you won’t receive a refund for your application fee if the office denies your tourist visa for whatever reason. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you have everything in order before submitting your application.
Now what? You wait! You track your application online and begin preparing your trip to Canda.
Hopefully, you have applied within a few weeks before your planned travel date to allow for enough time for the visa to process.
In the meantime, you can start to take a look at other things you need for your trip, like Canadian travel insurance.
When is Travel or Medical Insurance Necessary for a Visa?
Depending on the kind of visa you’re applying for, you might need travel insurance to travel to Canada.
The International Experience Canada visa, which is a type of work-travel visa popular with immigrants right now, does require travel insurance.
The Canadian immigration website says that this insurance must cover:
- Medical Care
The website doesn’t currently list any other requirements, like premiums or deductions. However, it does say that the insurance policy must be valid for the entire time that your visa is valid for.
If you’re applying for a visa for six full months, for example, and your insurance policy only covers you for five and a half months, then there’s a good chance that they’ll issue your visa for only those five and a half months.
If you are planning on applying for a work visa in Canada, you’ll probably need to get insurance elsewhere. Most employee coverage and Provincial Canadian healthcare don’t cover repatriation costs.
This is something that’s more standard in travel insurance policies, so it’s best to find a travel policy that will cover you for when you apply for your Canada visitor visa.
To apply for a tourist visa, it’s not technically a requirement to show proof of insurance, but depending on the immigration agent you get, they might ask you for it.
It’s always a gamble, and even if you never have to show proof of medical coverage, there is peace of mind in knowing that you’re going to be okay in the case of a medical emergency while traveling.
Not sold? Why waste money? Here’s what to look for and all of the benefits of taking out a travel insurance policy.
What to Look for in a Canadian Travel Insurance Policy
Travel insurance is always a good idea, regardless of the kind of visa you’re applying for. There’s nothing worse than being in a foreign country and feeling sick, getting injured, or needing medical attention and not having anywhere to turn.
Sure, you could call the closest hospital, but you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket. If you’re from the UK, taking out a Canadian travel policy will ensure that you’re not charged too much for medical services.
Studies show that visitors from the UK who need medical attention while in Canda and don’t have insurance can pay up to 150% more than the standard NHS rate.
Ask the questions from your potential insurance provider:
- What does this premium cover exactly?
- Does this cover trips outside of Canada (to the US, for example)?
- What is your policy if I am traveling back to my home country?
- Will you cover my luggage and personal belongings?
- What if someone steals my luggage or personal belongings?
- Does this cover winter sports activities?
Insurance companies can include all of these as part of a travel insurance policy, and they’re great to have, but they might not naturally be a part of your premium if you don’t ask for them.
Obviously, you can tailor your policy to fit your needs. If you have no intention of participating in any winter or outdoor sports while in Canada, then you shouldn’t need to pay for that benefit.
Likewise, if you know you tend to have bad luck while traveling and that airlines always lose your luggage, then ask what the travel insurance covers if that happens while traveling to Canada!
The important part is to ask questions specific to your needs. If you’re honest with what you need, providers can make sure you’re getting the coverage that’s right for you.
Planning a Safe Visit to Canada
Applying for a Canada tourist visa isn’t hard to do. If you’re diligent about getting your paperwork in order, then you shouldn’t have a problem.
Make sure to take a look at all of the requirements and browse around for the best travel insurance policies that will cover you during your stay in Canada.
If you have any more questions regarding insurance or are ready to see what kind of travel insurance plan we have for you, you can get a free quote today.