Need to Know

Key travel information to plan your BC vacation

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Emergency Information

As you may know, areas of British Columbia are currently dealing with wildfires. However, British Columbia is a very large and diverse province, and there are many areas that are not impacted and are open for business.

In emergency situations, contact the local police, ambulance service, fire department, and other emergency services by dialing 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 Canada should clarify coverage provided by their personal insurance carriers and may wish to obtain additional health insurance before coming to BC.


Emergency Info BC

  • Information about emergencies in BC, including evacuation orders and alerts.
  • Twitter@EmergencyInfoBC  #BCFlood #BCWildFire


The BC Wildfire Service


BC Parks

  • Information about provincial campgrounds and park closures.
  • Twitter: #BCParks

Recreation Sites and Trails


BC Air Quality Health Index

  • Smoke conditions across the province can change hourly. Check the Air Quality Health Index for real-time updates from across BC.


Environment Canada

  • Resource for the latest weather information, statements, and air quality advisories.
  • Twitter: @environmentca


River Forecast Centre

Passport & Customs Info

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

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


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

Driving in BC

If you are going to drive in BC, here are some rules and regulations you should know:

  • There are strict car/booster-seat regulations for children up to nine years old or 145 centimetres (57 inches) tall.
  • Visitors to BC can drive with a valid licence from another country for a maximum of six months.
  • It is against the law to drive while using a handheld cell phone or other electronic device. *Note that mobile phone reception in BC is strong in urban areas, but spotty in remote areas.
  • Highways outside of Metro Vancouver and southeast Vancouver Island require winter tires from October 1 to March 31.
  • There is a network of more than 500 electric charging stations in BC.
  • Consult Drive BC for up-to-date information about road conditions closures.

Consult the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s list of frequently asked questions for other driving regulations.


BC strives to be an inclusive destination for people of all abilities. Cities like Vancouver, Victoria, and Whistler have significant infrastructure in place; transportation companies offer accessible services; many parks and trails are accessible; and there are several adaptive sports programs.


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

More Conversions

Public Holidays 2018

Banks, government offices, and some stores will be closed on statutory holidays, or on the following Monday if the holiday falls on a weekend:

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Family Day – February 12
  • Good Friday – March 30
  • Easter Monday – April 2
  • Victoria Day – May 21
  • Canada Day – July 1
  • BC Day – August 6
  • Labour Day – September 3
  • Thanksgiving Day – October 8
  • Remembrance Day – November 11
  • Christmas Day – December 25
  • Boxing Day – December 26

Start Planning Your BC Experience

Getting Here & Around

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

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

Rest Your Head

Know what to expect in communities across the province.

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