Ecotourism Vancouver Island > Island Info > Customs & Currency Info

Customs & Currency Info

Entry into Canada - US Citizens

U.S. citizens do not need passports or visas to enter Canada; however, proof of U.S. citizenship is required, such as a birth certificate or American passport. Proof of residence or government issued photo identification, such as a valid driver's licence, should also be carried.

Entry into Canada - All Other Visitors

All foreign visitors entering Canada must show a valid passport or an alternative legal travel document. Some may require visas to enter the country. A valid drivers license alone is not sufficient to prove citizenship. Visitors may be refused entry for past records of Felony offences. For more information, contact the Canadian Embassy or Consulate in your country.

Further Customs Information

Note: Increased security is resulting in longer delays at entry points to Canada and United States. Please allow plenty of time for border crossings.

Money and Taxes

The Canadian monetary system is based on dollars and cents. $1.00 = 100 cents

US money is accepted at the current exchange rate. Most establishments accept US dollars at slightly lower rates than banks. Traveller's cheques are the safest to carry and are accepted by banks and major establishments. To get the best rate when exchanging currency, it is recommended that visitors use one of the chartered banks or currency exchanges.

Visitors from other countries should exchange enough money prior to departure if possible to allow time to get to a currency exchange. Use Credit Cards wherever possible. Note that many establishments accept only VISA or MasterCard. Hotels will generally accept a wider range of cards.

Most banks will have branches open on Monday to Saturday and there are ATM machines at many locations all over Vancouver Island. Most 24 hour convenience stores have an ATM. Many shops and hotels now have online credit card validation with debit (bank) card capability.

GST Rebates for Non Residents

Canada has a 7% Goods & Services Tax (GST), which is added to almost everything you purchase. In addition to that, British Columbia has a provincial sales tax (PST) of 7.5% which is added to purchases excluding groceries, books and magazines. Visitors can obtain an instant GST rebate by providing all GST receipts to a participating duty-free shop when exiting Canada. Forms are available where you stay for mail in rebates.

Alternatively, if you depart Canada by a Canadian/U.S.A. land border crossing and have the goods readily available for inspection, you can get an instant cash refund from one of the Participating Duty Free Shops

A non-resident visitor qualifies for a tax refund if:

  • you are not a resident of Canada
  • you have original receipts
  • purchase amounts (before taxes) of short-term accommodation and goods on which you paid GST/HST total at least CAN $200 and
  • for goods, each individual receipt shows a minimum purchase amount (before taxes) on which you paid GST/HST of CAN $50.

In order to qualify for a refund of TVQ and PST, the purchase amounts must also reach the minimum thresholds of $50 and $200 for each tax type.

You can order additional rebate application forms by Internet at the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Forms Ordering Service site or obtain them from Canadian consulates, Canadian convention and visitors' bureaus, participating duty-free shops at Canadian/U.S.A. land borders, and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency tax services offices.

If you require specific information and answers, please refer to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency or call toll free from anywhere in Canada 1-800-66VISIT (1-800-668-4748) or, from outside Canada, phone (902) 432-5608.