British Columbia safety and travel information

Need to Know

Key travel information to plan your BC vacation

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Are you ready to start planning your trip to British Columbia? Use the information on this page to get started. If you’re looking for up-to-date information about health restrictions, travel advisories, border information, and weather alerts, please visit our Know Before You Go page.

We all have a role to play in ensuring safe and responsible travel in British Columbia, and there are protocols and expectations in place to keep you and our communities safe. For more information, visit our How To Travel Safely & Responsibly page.

 

Travelling to and within BC

Getting Here and Around

There are many ways to travel to and within BC, including by air, rail, water, or road. To explore your options, please visit our Getting Here & Around page.

For information regarding border crossings and air travel to BC, please visit our Know Before You Go page.

Maps

Looking to chart a course for your western Canada adventure? Visit our Maps page to see where to find the best powder, where to pitch your tent, or where to hit the road.

Passports & Customs

Canada Border Services Agency has current information for visitors to British Columbia about required travel documents, restricted goods, traveling with children and pets, and other resources.

For information about entering or reentering the United States, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Currency

Credit cards (mainly Visa and MasterCard) are accepted by most businesses, but it’s a good idea to carry some Canadian cash. ATMs, located in banks and retail areas, dispense Canadian currency. A bank or currency exchange outlet can change your funds to Canadian dollars. Banks are generally open Monday to Friday, with some open on weekends.

A federal goods and services tax (GST) of 5% and a provincial sales tax (PST) of 7% are applicable to most purchased goods and services.

A tip of 15-20% at bars and restaurants is customary. Tips are also given to tour guides, taxi drivers, and for spa treatments and haircuts. Porters at airports, railway stations, and hotels generally expect $1-2 per item of luggage.

Currency Converter

Measurements

Canada uses the metric system. The following conversions may be useful:

More Conversions

 

Driving In BC

Here are some resources if you are going to be driving in BC:

  • Visit ICBC to get familiar with BC’s driving rules and regulations as well as insurance coverage for your vehicle.
  • Consult DriveBC for up-to-date information about road conditions and closures.
  • Consult the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s website for other driving regulations.
  • Plan ahead with BCAA’s Ultimate Guide to Safe Road-Tripping in BC, including helpful resources such as the BCAA vehicle checklist, how to pack for an emergency, and more.
  • Highways outside of Metro Vancouver and Southeast Vancouver Island require winter tires from October 1 to March 31. Visit Shift Into Winter for more information on winter driving in BC.

Safe & Responsible Travel

Indigenous Travel Experience

Indigenous cultures are alive and thriving. Learn how to travel with intent, and experience these communities responsibly. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Travel is a privilege
  • Wait for your welcome
  • Come prepared and think sustainably

To learn more, visit Indigenous Tourism BC.

Be Adventuresmart

Many visitors want to explore the outdoors in new ways, such as hiking a new trail, getting on a mountain bike, or learning how to kayak. No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, do your research in advance and be prepared. Learn the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials—and apply them to all your outdoor adventures. AdventureSmart.ca will be your best friend when it comes to outdoor safety in BC.

Be Coastsmart

Planning to explore BC’s beaches and coastal trails along the Pacific Rim? Ensure your next adventure is accident free with these tips for staying safe near and in our beautiful waters. Learn more about these tips and the three T’s of coastal adventure at coastsmart.ca

Leave No Trace

When exploring BC’s outdoors, always leave it in a better state than when you arrived.

  • Respect local wildlife
  • Minimize the impact of campfires and check BC Wildfire Service for fire bans and fire safety tips
  • Pack out what you pack in and dispose of waste properly

These are just some of key principles of Leave No Trace, a set of seven guidelines for enjoying the outdoors responsibly while minimizing your impact on the landscape. Visit LeaveNoTrace.ca to learn more about responsible outdoor recreation.

Camping

Camping is an extremely popular way to experience BC’s outdoor spaces. Please plan ahead, adhere to any campfire bans, and ensure you’re taking all the appropriate steps to have a safe and enjoyable time. Campground reservations are strongly recommended.

For safety tips, see COVID-19 Tips for Camping and RVing.

Please camp responsibly and follow the Camper’s Code.

Emergency Information

In emergency situations, contact the local police, ambulance service, fire department, and other emergency services by dialling 911, a free call from any telephone. The news media and many tourism businesses cooperate with the RCMP to communicate urgent messages to visitors. If you see or hear your name, phone the number given.

Visitors from outside the province should clarify coverage provided by their personal insurance carriers and may wish to obtain additional health insurance before coming to BC.

Snow Safety

If you are considering a trip to BC’s backcountry, please see Avalanche Canada’s Safety in the Snow: What You Need to Know and BC AdventureSmart’s 3 Outdoor Winter Safety Tips Everybody Should Know for tips on staying safe.

BSAFE™ BEFORE YOU GO

What is BSAFE™?

BSAFE is a new online health and safety training program for businesses designed to ensure foundational health and safety knowledge in BC’s tourism and hospitality businesses to keep everyone safe as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic.

BSAFE™ stands for BC Safety Assured For Everyone. Our tagline, “Your Trust, Our Priority”, is our pledge and our promise. Businesses who have 75% of their workforce successfully complete the training course, will be recognized with a “BSAFE™ Trained” certificate.

Look for and ask about The BSAFE program when you travel!

Trip Planning Resources

Accommodation & Experiences

  • To discover places to stay across BC, including hotels, B&Bs, campgrounds, and more, visit our Accommodations page.
  • To learn about attractions, guided tours, parks, and more, visit our Experience Providers page.
  • To find travel services to and within BC, visit our Tour Operators page.
  • Explore the latest special offers and deals in British Columbia from our Travel Deals page.
  • To find a complete list of campgrounds and RV parks throughout British Columbia, visit the Camping & RV in BC website. Reservations for BC Parks campgrounds can be made on Discover Camping.

Accessibility

BC strives to be an inclusive destination for people of all abilities. To learn more about Accessible Travel in BC, please visit our Accessibility page.

To better serve travellers with accessibility needs, tourism businesses featured on our website have the ability to self assess with respect to mobility, vision, hearing, cognitive and general accessibility categories. Check individual Experience Provider and Accommodations listings for their accessibility details by selecting the “Accessibility” filters at the top of the page

Visitor Information & Services

If you’re looking to connect with a local tourism expert, there are more than 100 community-owned Visitor Centers and booths across the province that make up BC’s Visitor Services Network. To find local insight and expertise, visit our Visitor Information & Services page.

Climate & Weather

The weather in British Columbia is influenced by latitude, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. Temperature, average precipitation, and hours of sunshine can vary over short distances, but in general temperatures are warmer in the south and milder on the coast, and rainfall is heaviest in coastal communities. To learn more about seasonal weather, visit our Climate & Weather page.

Public Holidays

Banks, government offices, and some stores will be closed on statutory holidays, or on the following Monday if the holiday falls on a weekend. View a list of statutory holidays here.

Parks

British Columbia, with its diverse landscapes, pristine ecosystems, and vast tracts of wilderness, has one of the highest proportions of protected land of any jurisdiction in the world.

  • To learn more about BC Parks, Parks Canada, and Recreation Sites and Trails BC, please visit our Parks & Wilderness Areas page.
  • Not all parks fall within national or provincial jurisdiction; many are managed by regional or municipal parks boards, which set their own rules, regulations, openings, and closures to ensure visitor safety. Always check with the park’s website before planning your visit to learn about the latest updates.
  • See alerts, closures, and warnings about BC’s rustic campsites and recreational trails.

Start Planning Your BC Experience

Getting Here & Around

Visitors to British Columbia can arrive by air, road, rail, or ferry.

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Accommodations

Five-star hotels, quaint B&Bs, rustic campgrounds, and everything in between.

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Weather

Know what to expect in communities across the province.

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