Living in Canada
Advice for British people living in Canada, including information on health, benefits, residence requirements and more.
This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Canada, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.
Entry and residence requirements
Visas are not generally required for British citizens visiting Canada for short periods. However, some categories of British nationals, including those with a criminal record or who do not have enough funds to support themselves for the duration of their anticipated stay are not allowed to enter the country. If you intend to work, study or stay for a longer period, consult with Citizenship and Immigration Canada for more information.
Detailed guidance on visas, passport validity, UK Emergency Travel Document (ETD) requirements, travelling with children and travel to Canada from within Canada are available by reviewing our Canada travel advice.
Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA)
Visitors travelling to Canada by air are now expected to get an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) to enter Canada. However, the Canadian authorities have stated that until 9 November 2016, travellers who don’t have an eTA can still board their flight, as long as they have appropriate travel documents (such as a valid passport).
After 9 November 2016, if you’re visiting Canada you’ll need an eTA to board your flight unless you’re otherwise exempted (for example, if you have a valid Canadian visa or a permanent resident card). If you have British-Canadian dual nationality you won’t be able to apply for an eTA and you’ll need to present a valid Canadian passport to board your flight to Canada.
For more information about the eTA system, and to apply online, visit the official Canadian government website.
You must hold a valid passport to enter Canada. Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required. However, it is always advised to have a short period of extra validity on your passport in case of any unforeseen delays to your departure.
Guidance on bringing medication into Canada
Detailed information about bringing medication into Canada is available on the Government of Canada website.
Driving in Canada
If moving from the UK to Canada to live, please be aware that each province/territory issues its own driving licence. If you are moving to live in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, or Newfoundland and Labrador, you will be able to exchange a UK licence issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for one issued by these provinces. Drivers must have proof of at least 24 months of licensed driving experience.
Negotiations are continuing with the remaining provinces/territories. If you take up residence in any of these provinces/territories, you will be required to take a written test and a practical road test. Some provinces operate a graduated driving licence system and it can take up to two years to obtain a full licence. UK driving licences issued by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI) are not currently included in these reciprocal arrangements.
Please note that the British High Commission and Consulates-General are unable to authenticate, certify or validate your UK driver’s license. If you have been asked by the driver’s licensing authorities in Canada to obtain such a letter, please refer to the issuing office in the UK where you received your driver’s license (DVLA, DVLNI or other).
Canada and UK do not have reciprocal agreements for health care. When travelling to Canada it is essential to obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before your arrival in country.
Our Death Overseas leaflet provides information on the practical support British consular staff can offer you and what you need to do yourself. It also includes information on UK based repatriation companies.
British consular officials in Canada have no notary powers and cannot certify, notarise or legalise a document. This function is carried out by a Canadian notary public. Review our Notarial and Documentary Services Guide for Canada for detailed information.
Employment and recognised qualifications
Further information on employment based immigrant visas is available on the Government of Canada web site.
This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the high commission by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British High Commission will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.
Published: 20 November 2013
Updated: 22 September 2016
- Updated Electronic Travel Authorisation requirements for British passport holders flying to Canada.
- Added information about Electronic Travel Authorisation requirements
- Added British Columbia to the list of provinces where a UK driving licence can be exchanged.
- First published.