Canada Travel Notes

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Australian Embassy in Canada

Suite 710
50 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2
Tel   +1 613  236 0841
Fax  +1 613 786 7621

The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers.

Canada Visa Waiver Program

Electronic Travel Authorisation is compulsory
It is now mandatory that all visa exempt foreign nationals obtain the Canada Electronic Travel Authorisation program (ETA) prior to entering Canada. This security measure under the Electronic Travel Authorisation program is available for Australia and New Zealand passport holders. Other passport holders can go to the website to see if they’re eligible.

To apply ONLINE or to check your status:
At present the fee is CAD$7.00 for ETA applications. The Canadian government recommends that travellers use the online system no later than three days before departure.

Time Zones

Canada spans six different time zones:  Pacific Standard Time in the far west at GMT-8 (-7 during daylight saving) to Newfoundland Standard Time in the far east at GMT -3.5 (-2.5 during daylight saving. Toronto and Ottawa both fall into the Eastern Standard Zone (GMT-6) meaning they are currently 14 hours behind Australia. Daylight saving in Canada begins on the 2nd Sunday in March and ends on the 1st Sunday in November.  To obtain the current local time and date in cities and countries in all time zones.

Voltages and Plugs

Canada uses 110 volts. There are two types of plugs used: the two-square prongs, or a two-square one-circular prong version.


To obtain the most up-to-date exchange rate you may wish to visit

The currency of Canada is the Canadian Dollar. As in Australia, 1 dollar = 100 cents.
Notes are in denominations of
C$100 (brown), 50 (red), 20 (green), 10 (purple) and 5 (blue). Coins are in denominations of C$2 (called the ‘toonie’) and C$1(‘loonie’), and 25 cents (quarter), 10 (dime), 5 (nickel) and 1 (penny) cents.

A Goods & Services Tax (GST) is applicable to all transport, accommodation, restaurant meals and just about anything else you’re likely to purchase, including newspapers. Each province has a different rate it can vary from 5% to 17% to the quoted price, so factor it into your expenses to avoid getting a nasty surprise at the cash register.

Credit Cards and ATM machines

ATMs are the easiest way to access your money. They are common in all towns and cities. Most accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus, Maestro and InterBank cards.

Please note that using a credit card usually requires a  “chip-and-pin” credit card with an embedded microchip and an associated PIN number (the PIN is specific to each credit card). If you have questions about using your credit card in a foreign country, please contact your bank prior to departure from Australia. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.


It is not easy to exchange foreign cash when travelling in Canada.
Travelers Cheques are NO longer accepted.

Telephone & Communication

Mobile telephones
Most mobile telephones work in Canada and coverage is excellent. Check with your local provider that your phone can switch on ‘Global Roaming’ and that your provider has coverage in the places you are visiting. Mobile phones can be very useful for SMSing  (especially if you get lost!). International calls are often expensive, as is checking your message bank as calls have to be routed through Australia.

Should you choose to purchase a local sim card please check with your local provider prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another sim card.

The internet is widely available in Canada, and download speeds are generally high, particularly in major cities. There is also free wireless internet access across Canada in most hotels, cafes and stores.

If you have Web access while traveling, you might consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype  or Vonage, which allows you to make free international calls between online computers and phones, and cheap international calls if you’re calling a normal phone number. Most cybercafes throughout the country will be using these programs already, complete with headset, microphone, and webcam.
www.skype.com     www.vonage.com

Business Hours in Canada

Banks & Offices  9.00 / 9.30 – 16.00 / 17.00 Monday to Friday, with expanded hours in major city locations.
Shops  9.00 – 18.00 or later if larger department stores.
Some provinces allow shops to be open on Sundays from noon to 17:00. Many retail stores are closed on Canada’s public holidays.

  • Please be aware that when in Canada it is recommended you carry a recognised form of ID on you at all times (Drivers License, Passport or Australia Post Keypass identity card).
  • It’s also important to exercise patience in the  airports and many public sites as heightened security measures can mean unpredictable and irritating delays. Be prepared at museum visits that there may be security screening.
Personal Safety
  • We strongly recommend the use of a money belt to keep your cash, cards and travel documents safe. This should be kept under your clothes at all times. This is a precaution that should be taken anywhere due to the difficulties that can be experienced in trying to replace stolen items.
  • Take photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance) and keep one copy securely in your luggage and leave another copy at home.
  • It is generally helpful to take a business card from the hotel you are staying at. This can assist hugely if you get lost. If you also have a key card for your hotel, make sure you keep these two cards separate or you run the risk of allowing a thief access to your room
  • Take extra care in crowded places and try not to ‘advertise’ the fact that you may be carrying valuables by having something like an expensive camera over your shoulder. Put it in your bag or under your coat. And men, try to avoid keeping your wallet in your hip pocket.
What to Pack

Clothing (general)
The time of the year you visit this destination will dictate the type of clothing it is appropriate to bring. It would always be advisable to take a rain coat or a water proof windbreaker. For daytime activities, we suggest a wardrobe that is versatile, casual and comfortable. It is recommended that “layered” clothing might offer the best comfort in a variety of conditions. Always expect the weather to be changeable.
Beyond the normal wardrobe we suggest

  • comfortable walking shoes (very important)
  • sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
  • folding umbrella and/or light raincoat
  • ladies should have a scarf with them at all times in case it is required to cover shoulders or head when entering religious sites
  • prescription medicines for the full duration of your time away and a written copy of your prescriptions including what they are for, provided by your doctor
  • extra prescription eyeglasses (if required)

No attempt should be made to photograph anything remotely connected with the armed forces or in the vicinity of defence installations. Many people do not like being photographed, always ask before photographing someone.

Clothing (Churches, Mosques and Monasteries)
Although ‘foreigners’ do not have to adhere to a strict dress rules, women should wear a head covering (ie a scarf) in active churches. Men must remember to remove their hats in religious buildings. In churches it is polite to stand around the edges of the building, rather than in the centre. It is acceptable for foreigners to light candles.

Canada is a bi-lingual country, with both French and English listed as official languages. French is spoken most widely in Quebec province, although it is worth noting there are substantial differences between ‘true’ and Quebeci French. A Few words of french will go a long way when interacting with the locals in Quebec.


Tipping is common practice and expected in cafes, restaurants and hotels. The going rate in restaurants is 15–20% of the bill; never tip in a fast-food or self-service environment. Taxi drivers, bartenders and hairdressers depend on similar-sized gratuities.

Useful websites

Discover Canada
Quebec Tourist Board
World Airport Guide


We suggest that prior to departure you check the weather forecast for the most up-to-date information.

Average minimum/maximum Temperatures (˚C)

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Toronto -7/0 -6/1 -2/5 3/11 8/17 14/23 18/26 18/26 15/23 8/16 3/19 -3/3
Montreal -14/-4 -13/-2 -7/2 0/12 7/20 13/26 15/27 14/26 10/22 4/14 -2/7 -9/0
Sydney, NS -6/0 -8/-1 -6/2 0/8 5/13 11/19 17/24 16/22 12/19 8/14 3/9 -2/4
Halifax  -7/1 -8/0 -4/2 0/5 4/9 8/14 12/17 14/19 12/18 8/13 3/9 -3/4
Charlottetown -11/-3 –11/-3 -7/0 -1/5 3/10 9/17 15/21 15/22 12/18 7/13 1/8 -6/1
Quebec  -16/-6 -16/-5 -9/1 -1/9 5/19 11/24 14/26 13/25 8/20 2/12 -4/4 -12/-3