Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups
The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free
Insurance, FX and international movers
The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!
From our tax, investment and FX partners
Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.

Canada - Doctors, Dentists and Other Health Services

As with the UK and the US, it is the usual practice to register with a local doctor. However, in some urban areas of Canada some practices have no room for more patients. Those who have difficulty in finding a doctor that is accepting new patients can contact the local colleges of physicians and surgeons. You can also simply contact all the practices that are listed in the yellow pages, but this can be time consuming if you are living in a well populated area as you may find that more than half of all practices are not taking on new patients. The same applies for dentists. You may come across several practices which are not taking on new patients and will need to do a little searching.

It is also worth contacting the health department of your provincial government as some provinces have a programme that can match up patients to available practices. There are different programmes and services in each province. For example, Ontario has a programme of family health teams and clinics that focus on nursing services. In Quebec there are clinics for family medicine, Community Service Centres and an increase in the number of nurses at health centres.

Those who cannot find a doctor’s practice for some time will find that there will be a number of walk in clinics in their area. You do not need an appointment and many clinics are open at weekends and have late evening closures. Many people do rely solely on the walk in clinics and never register with a GPs practice. By consulting a GP at your own practice or a drop in centre you can be referred for specialist services at hospitals.

You may be able to have your name placed on a waiting list so that if the practice finds in the future that it can take on new patients you will be contacted. However, there is no guarantee of when you will be contacted and this does not apply to all medical practices.

The process of registering will be simply a case of making an appointment and going along for an initial examination. You will be asked about yours and your family’s medical history and you may have to undergo an examination, particularly if you have an existing health condition.

Paying for health care services at your GPs practice is compulsory if you do not have the health insurance card. This should be applied for as soon as you arrive in Canada and a card will be required for every member of the family. You can get an application form for the card from a number of places including pharmacies, doctor’s surgeries, hospitals and ministry of health offices. You need to complete the application form and return it with the birth certificate of the applicant, confirmation of permanent residency status or citizenship of Canada and your passport.

When you have received your health insurance card you will find that it can only be used in the province that you are living in. However there is an Interprovincial Reciprocal Billing Agreement which means that you can show your card and it will either be billed directly to your own province or you will need to pay and claim the monies back at a later date. As not all those who move to the country will be permanent residents or citizens it is a good idea to have private medical insurance as medical costs can be high without it.

When you go to the dentist in Canada you will find that dental treatment is not covered by the health insurance card. It is essential that you obtain private health insurance for dental care as the cost can be very expensive. Some may find that their employer provides them with a dental care plan as part of their remuneration package but not all employers will do this.

If you need optical care you will find that the cost of this is not covered by the public health plans in some states. You need to check with the local health authority to find out which expenses are covered and if necessary obtain a private health insurance plan that will cover this.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.

Copyright © 2019 Expat Focus. All Rights Reserved. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use/Privacy Policy. Comments are property of their posters.
Interactive software released under GNU GPL, Code Credits, Privacy Policy