All the information
you will need to know before coming to Canada and the beautiful
province of Alberta. Check Calgary weather or what you would need to do before
planning a mountain holiday.
Currency & banking
Duty free shops
Fishing and hunting licences
Hospital & medical services
National parks/national historic sites
Postal rates & codes
services: entry regulations
Customs & duty free allowances
Calgary and area has a moderate four-season climate, with large variations in temperature
between seasons and from one locale to another. Summer days in the city of Calgary are
usually warm and dry with cool evenings because of the altitude and proximity to the
mountains. However, a summer day in Drumheller is often very hot and dry approximating
desert-like conditions. A summer day in the mountains can be hot but the evenings are
more hours of sunshine in a year than any other province in Canada,
Calgary is known for its blue skies. A unique phenomena called a Chinook wind can raise
temperatures more than 20 degrees in one day, turning winter days into spring. A strong
wind and an arch of clouds form over the mountains, heralding the arrival of the Chinook.
area is typically dry with the largest amount of rainfall during
the spring months.
Although the mountain areas receive significant amounts of snow in the winter, Calgary
often receives only moderate snowfall.
Summer (Jun to Aug):
Fall (Sep to Nov):
Winter (Dec to Feb):
Spring (Mar to May):
For the city, pack lightweight clothing with a sweater, raincoat or light topcoat for cooler
evening temperatures. Temperatures in the mountains are always a little cooler than in the
If you are
planning outdoor activities in the mountains, bring good hiking
shoes or boots,
and carry warm clothing that can be layered. The University of Calgary's Outdoor Program
rents equipment for outdoor activities, for very moderate fees. Calgary also has excellent
outdoor clothing and equipment stores.
Weather during these in-between seasons can be unpredictable. Bring a warm jacket and
clothing that can be layered.
During the winter months, a warm coat, boots, gloves and a hat are a necessity. If you plan
on skiing, be sure to bring your skiwear. Most ski facilities, however, rent skis, boots and
Dollars and cents form the monetary system in Canada. Although the operators of many
retail outlets, restaurants and other venues may accept American money, visitors should
exchange their travellers cheques or cash for Canadian currency.
Visitors will receive the best rate of exchange at:
Alberta Treasury Branches
Airport and border crossing exchange booths
charge a fee to cash travellers cheques. Normal banking hours
are Monday to
Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours including weekends at many locations.
machines marked with a Plus or Interac symbol will accept automated
banking cards from outside Canada. Banks charge a fee of $2 for international
transactions. The visitors bank sets the exchange rate. Most venues will accept major
national or international credit cards and travellers cheques for payment.
Duty free shops
Duty Free Shops at border crossings and airports sell tax-free items to departing visitors. For
questions regarding restrictions, licenses or controls, check with customs officials.
Electrical outlets and voltage are the same as they are in the United States (110 or 220
volts). For countries that use different voltages, an adapter is necessary to use small
electrical appliances such as hair dryers and curling irons.
The provincial Ministry of Environment issues freshwater fishing licenses at sporting goods
stores, department stores, marinas, and Canadian Parks Service Information Centres. The
federal Department of Fisheries issues saltwater fishing licenses at the same outlets as
freshwater licenses. Hunters obtain licenses and any other details from the Ministry of
Environment, Government Agents or licensed offices.
There is no
hunting within national and provincial parks in Alberta. For information
hunting regulations in Alberta, call the Fish & Wildlife Department at (403) 297-6423.
Visitors to Canada should obtain travellers' health insurance before leaving home. Most
health insurance coverage does not extend outside the country of residence. Visitors may
find they have either no health insurance or inadequate coverage when in Canada.
for hospital care vary from hospital to hospital and province
to province. Charges
for adult in-patient care can start at $900 per day; charges for children in specialized
hospitals can be higher still. In addition, some provinces impose a surcharge of up to 30 per
cent on care for non-residents. Visitors taking prescription medication should bring a copy of
the prescription for renewal in Canada.
Canadian hospital and medical services are excellent. Alberta hospitals will not refuse
treatment to those requiring care, regardless of their financial status or health care
Dial '911' in Calgary for emergency service including situations where an ambulance is
The following hospitals have emergency care departments:
1820 Richmond Rd. S.W.
(emergency services for children 18 and younger)
1403-29th St. N.W.
General Hospital (24-hour)
3500-26 Ave. N.E.
7007-14th St. S.W.
offer limited emergency services and are open in the evenings
weekends. Check the Yellow Pages in the Phone directory under 'Physicians and
Legal minimum age to purchase liquor in Alberta is 18. In British Columbia and
Saskatchewan the legal age is 19.
Canada uses the metric system for weights, measures and distances, although the Imperial
system is included in this guide (in parenthesis).
How to convert between metric and Imperial:
1 km = 5/8 mile
50 km/h = 30 mph
100 km/h road signs = 60 mph
kilometres to miles:
1 km X .6 = approximate mileage
miles to kilometres:
1 mi. X 1.6 = approximate kilometres
1 kilogram(kg) = 2.2 lb.
500 grams(g) = 1.1 lb.
kilograms to pounds:
Multiply kg X 2.2 = lb.
To covert grams
Multiply grams X .035 = ounces
and other liquids
Fuel in Canada is sold in litres. It takes 3.78 litres to make a U.S. gallon. A litre of milk is
roughly equal to a quart of milk.
Canada uses the Celsius temperature scale where the freezing point = 0oC
Celsius into Fahrenheit degrees:
Fo = 9/5 X Co + 32
a pleasant summer morning of 22oC = 72oF; while -5oC (23oF) in
great skiing weather.
The fee structure for national parks and national historic sites in Canada recently changed.
Park passes are available on a daily or annual basis. Call 1-800-651-7959 toll free inside
Canada or 403-292-4401 outside Canada for more information.
national and provincial parks and other areas are wild and therefore
It is illegal to approach, harass or feed wild animals and birds in any provincial or national
park. It is also illegal to pick or remove any vegetation, flowers, rocks, etc. from parks.
Remember the motto of the parks: "Take only pictures, leave only footprints."
fees and permits All persons staying overnight in the backcountry
areas of the
National Parks require a permit. During the summer season, each person pays a Daily
Wilderness Pass fee of $6 per night. Failure to do so can result in a $2,000 fine. Annual
Wilderness Passes are availablefor $42 per year.
To mail a letter through Canada Post, visitors must use Canadian stamps.
Up to 30 grams
within Canada is 47 cents + GST = 50 cents
Up to 30 grams to the U.S. is 60 cents + GST = 64 cents
0 to 20 grams internationally is $1.05 + GST = $1.12
More than 30
grams within Canada and to the U.S., and more than 20 grams
internationally, is determined by weight and size, plus GST. All mail in Canada must include
the postal code for each address. Hotel front desks and postal outlets have postal code
directories or dial 1-800-267-1133 in Canada for postal code information.
Provincial Sales Taxes Alberta has a five per cent hotel tax but no provincial sales tax.
Goods and Services
Tax (GST) The seven per cent federal Goods and Services Tax (GST)
applies to most goods and services. Foreign visitors may claim a full rebate of the GST on
non-consumable goods (items purchased in Canada that they take out of the country within
60 days of purchase), and on short-term accommodation. There is no rebate on
consumable items such as meals, liquor, tobacco, transportation costs and gasoline.
To apply for
Present your original receipts at a participating Canadian duty free shop for a total cash
refund of up to $500 Canadian when leaving Canada. Or mail a completed refund
application along with the original receipts to the address on the application. Allow six to
eight weeks for a refund.
For further information, contact:
Canadian Tourism Commission website
Summerside, PE C1N 6C6
Toll free in Canada: 1-800-668-4748
Outside Canada: (902) 432-5608
Tax Refund Services, Inc.
Airdrie, AB T4B 2B7
(403) 948-4005 or toll-free at 1-888-333-1331
Fax: (403) 948-8771
International Dialing Procedures To dial overseas: Dial 011 + Country Code (1-5 digits) +
Routing Code (1-5 digits) + Local Number (2-9 digits). The operator (Dial 0) can give you the
Country Code and Routing Code for all international centres.
To dial within Canada:
Dial 1 + Area Code (3 digits) + Local Number (7 digits).
Tips or service charges are not usually added to a bill in Canada, except for large parties or
banquets. In general, tip 15 per cent of the total amount. This applies to service attendants
including waiters, waitresses, barbers, hairdressers, taxi drivers, etc. Pay bellhops, doormen,
redcaps (porters) etc. at hotels, airports and railway stations $2 per item of luggage.
with Canada Customs before entering Canada to ensure regulations
have not changed. Visitors to Canada must pass through customs inspection at
airports and at border crossing. The customs department assesses hourly rates and
mileage charges for customs inspections necessary outside of normal business
Custom services: entry regulations
legal permanent residents of the United States do not need a visa
to enter or
leave Canada. However, visitors must carry a proof of citizenship such as a passport (even
an expired one) or a birth certificate. U.S. Resident Aliens should bring their Green Card
from other countries or from the United States who are not U.S.
permanent residents require a valid passport and possibly other documentation. Since
obtaining travel documents outside Canada can take time, it is important to check with the
nearest Canadian Consulate, Canadian Embassy, High Commission or on the
Government of Canada website well in advance of a trip to Canada. This includes foreign
students and workers in the U.S. who may wish to visit Canada.
to proper documentation, visitors are not admitted to Canada if
they have a
criminal record. This includes any conviction for driving while intoxicated.
Since customs officials are on the lookout for missing children, parents or guardians
travelling with children require a proof of citizenship for that child plus consent from both
parents. If a child is travelling with one parent or guardian, a letter of consent from the
absent parent must accompany the child.
Customs & duty free allowances
Visitors 18 years of age and older, may bring into Alberta, duty-free, either: 1.1 litres (40
Imperial ounces) of liquor or wine; or 24 X 355 ml (12 fl. oz.) cans or bottles of beer or ale or
their equivalent - 8.5 litres.
Duty and taxes,
plus provincial fees at the port of entry, apply to any additional
beverages up to a maximum of nine litres. "Coolers" are classed according to the kind of
alcohol they contain.
Canada has strict laws regarding the possession and use of firearms. Before bringing guns
to Canada for hunting purposes or competitions, please check with Canada Customs at
403-292-4663 to obtain the most up-to-date information on current legislation.
prohibits all handguns and automatic weapons from entry into Canada.
visitor does not need a federal permit to possess rifles or shotguns for hunting purposes but
must provide Canada Customs with serial numbers plus a description of each item. Two
hundred rounds of ammunition, for hunting purposes, can enter duty free, if the owner is 16
or more years of age.
restricted weapons and may only be brought into Canada for use
approved shooting competition. A permit for this purpose is required from the province(s)
you are visiting. Requests for permits to carry handguns through Canada to other parts of
the U.S., including Alaska, or to another country, are usually denied. Visitors should use a
bonded commercial carrier for this purpose.
Mace is considered
a prohibited weapon if it is intended for use against humans.
intended for protection against wildlife are acceptable if they have an Agriculture Canada
You may bring (or mail) your friends or relatives living in Canada gifts, duty and tax-free, if
the value of each gift does not exceed $60 (Canadian funds). Tobacco products, alcoholic
beverages or advertising material may not be sent as gifts. Gift packages sent by mail
should say UNSOLICITED GIFT and indicate the value. Regular duty and taxes will apply to
gifts valued at more than $60 (Canadian funds).
imports (i.e., mail order items) less than $20 Canadian, are duty
duty and taxes apply to anything over that amount.
and recreational equipment
Visitors can bring non-restricted sporting goods and personal baggage into Canada, duty
and tax free, by declaring them on arrival to customs officials. Register the serial numbers of
equipment such as cameras, bicycles, etc. with Canada Customs.
Labels on prescription drugs should clearly show what they are and that they are for
prescription use. It is also a good idea to carry a copy of the prescription and your doctor's
Dogs and cats brought into Canada must have a certificate from a licensed veterinarian that
states the animal has been vaccinated against rabies during the preceding 36-month
Persons 18 years of age or over may bring into Alberta, duty-free, 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes
and 400 grams of manufactured tobacco. Federal duty and taxes apply to additional
Alberta Regional Office
320, 220-4th Ave. S.E.
Calgary, AB T2G 0L1 (403) 292-8750
Ports of Entry - Hours/2000
Open all year; daily; 0900hrs -1700hrs
Open all year; daily; 0700hrs - 2300hrs
AB/Chief Mountain, MT
Seasonal hours only, daily. Opens the Friday before the May holiday weekend; closes the
third Sunday in September.
May 15 - May 31, 2000; 0900hrs -1800hrs.
June 1 - Sept. 19, 2000; 0700hrs - 2200hrs.
Sept 20 - Sept. 30, 2000; 0900hrs - 1800hrs.
Open all year, daily, 24-hour service.
AB/Del Bonita, MT
June 1- Sept. 15; daily; 0800hrs - 2100hrs.
Sept. 16 - May 31; daily; 0900hrs - 1800hrs.
AB/Wild Horse, MT
Open all year, daily. May 15 - Sept. 30; 0800hrs - 2100hrs.
Oct. 1 - May 14; 0800hrs - 1700hrs.