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International Student Health Insurance in Canada

International Student Health Insurance in Canada

Canada, renowned for its costless Canadian healthcare, extends this privilege exclusively to its citizens and permanent residents. Consequently, international scholars pursuing their educational aspirations within Canada must diligently secure health insurance for the entire duration of their academic voyage.

The Canadian healthcare framework exhibits regional disparities across provinces, a noteworthy feature that foreign nationals contemplating studies in the nation must meticulously acquaint themselves with. The provision of health insurance for international scholars under provincial health schemes remains inconsistent, varying from one province to another. Additionally, each province delineates its coverage concerning medical expenditures and existing medical conditions, ushering in a labyrinth of intricacies. Nevertheless, the preponderance of provinces mandates students to enlist in private health insurance schemes.

In multiple provinces mandating international scholars to secure health insurance, academic institutions proffer comprehensive health insurance packages tailored to their needs. In specific instances, educational institutions necessitate scholars to enlist in their health insurance provisions, while other institutions grant the liberty for scholars to forego these packages in the event of furnishing evidence substantiating their acquisition of private health insurance elsewhere.

Irrespective of the circumstance, all academic institutions remain well-versed in the requisites governing international scholars’ healthcare and their eligibility for provincial healthcare coverage.

International Student Health Insurance in Canada

Canadian Health Care

Every Canadian citizen and permanent resident enjoys equitable access to indispensable hospital services without the burden of out-of-pocket expenses. Universal healthcare, a federally mandated construct, is executed through the auspices of individual provinces and territories. Consequently, the intricacies of healthcare coverage are contingent upon the geographical location of an individual.

The all-encompassing Canadian healthcare system extends its embrace solely to medically indispensable services, thereby constituting the bedrock of fundamental healthcare provision.

In stark contrast, individuals in Canada who lack the coveted status of permanent resident or citizen find themselves confronted with the onus of personally financing medical services unless they are shielded by the protective mantle of private health insurance. Many immigration pathways demand that temporary residents acquire private health insurance to underwrite their healthcare obligations throughout their sojourn within the nation.

In dire situations necessitating immediate medical intervention, all provinces and territories rise to the occasion, rendering essential services without fiscal encumbrance, even in the absence of a government-issued health card. However, the scope and extent of services that can be proffered are notably circumscribed, contingent upon the prevailing immigration status of the afflicted individual.

Health Care Services for Students by Province


Public Health Insurance Available: Yes

International students embarking on a scholastic journey in Alberta, with a minimum duration of six months, typically meet the eligibility criteria for provincial health insurance coverage via the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP).

It is worth noting, however, that the purview of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan extends solely to rudimentary health-related expenses. Regrettably, it remains steadfast in its exclusion of dental care and prescription medications from its coverage ambit. In the event that an international student finds themselves ineligible to avail the protective shield of AHCIP, an alternative avenue beckons. They must proactively procure a private health insurance plan, either independently or through the services of an insurance company or agent.

Explore the details on obtaining a AHCIP coverage.

British Columbia

Public Health Insurance Available: Yes

For those contemplating educational pursuits in British Columbia, a sojourn lasting a minimum of six months unfurls the eligibility for BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP). The initiation of your MSP application should coincide with your arrival in BC. However, it’s imperative to acknowledge that the MSP application process is characterized by a temporal trajectory, spanning approximately three months. Consequently, prospective applicants are poised to embark on this endeavor only upon setting foot on Canadian soil.

During this interregnum, iMED steps into the breach, furnishing essential health insurance coverage that bridges the chasm preceding MSP qualification. This rudimentary health insurance acts as a vital safety net during the aforementioned three-month waiting period prior to attaining the exalted status of MSP beneficiary.

International scholars are granted the latitude to augment their healthcare protection by acquiring extended health coverage to complement the fundamental provisions encapsulated within MSP. A multitude of educational institutions extends their benevolence by offering bespoke extended health insurance packages tailored to the specific needs of their student body. In certain cases, these packages ascend to the realm of necessity, with some institutions stipulating that students partake in this additional coverage.

In situations where MSP eligibility remains elusive, the mantle of responsibility for healthcare coverage descends upon the shoulders of the student. In such instances, students must undertake the acquisition of private health insurance to safeguard their healthcare exigencies throughout the duration of their academic tenure.

Explore the details on obtaining a MSP coverage


Public Health Insurance Available: No

International students choosing Manitoba as their academic destination are compelled to participate in the Manitoba International Student Health Plan. This obligatory plan encompasses coverage for unforeseen medical emergencies, a facet that can potentially incur substantial expenses for non-residents.

This encompassing plan shields against financial burdens arising from hospitalization, consultations with medical practitioners, and the need for diagnostic x-rays, thus offering a comprehensive safety net for international students.

Explore the details on obtaining a  Manitoba International Student Health Plan.

New Brunswick

Public Health Insurance Available: Yes

International students who fulfill the criteria for eligibility are entitled to access New Brunswick Medicare coverage. To meet the requisites, a student must be enrolled in full-time studies at a New Brunswick educational institution for a minimum duration of one complete academic year.

It is important to note that New Brunswick Medicare offers solely rudimentary medical coverage. In light of this limitation, international scholars are strongly advised to explore supplementary health coverage options either through their educational institution or by engaging the services of a private insurance provider. This proactive approach ensures a more comprehensive and secure healthcare safety net during their academic pursuits.

Explore the details on obtaining a  New Brunswick Medicare coverage.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Public Health Insurance Available: Yes

Every registered international student is seamlessly enrolled in the Foreign Health Insurance plan, a mandatory inclusion in their academic journey.

International students are privy to cost-free foundational health coverage by enrolling in the province’s Medical Care Plan (MCP), provided they commit to full-time studies for a minimum span of 12 months.

However, it’s noteworthy that those international students who fail to meet the eligibility criteria for this program must proactively procure private health insurance to safeguard their healthcare needs throughout their stay in Canada. MCP, while essential, offers solely elementary coverage. Consequently, students are strongly encouraged to acquaint themselves with the advantages of extended health insurance plans to fortify their healthcare security.

Explore the details on obtaining a  MCP.

Northwest Territories

Public Health Insurance Available: Yes

International students are eligible to seek health insurance coverage through the Northwest Territories Health Care (NWTHC) on the condition that their academic program extends beyond a 12-month duration.

NWTHC extends the umbrella of free fundamental healthcare services to residents of the Northwest Territories. It’s worth noting, however, that this coverage encompasses solely the basic healthcare necessities. In light of this limitation, international scholars are encouraged to investigate the viability of extending their healthcare coverage by engaging private healthcare providers, ensuring a more comprehensive safety net for their healthcare needs.

Explore the details on obtaining a  Northwest Territories Health Care

Nova Scotia

Public Health Insurance Available: No

International students in Nova Scotia face a mandatory requirement to procure health coverage, as their eligibility does not extend to inclusion in the provincial health care program. Many educational institutions within Nova Scotia extend healthcare plans, with some instituting obligatory enrollment for international students. Notably, Nova Scotia does not proffer public health insurance to international students. However, eligibility for this provision is contingent upon legal residency within the province for a minimum duration of 12 months.

The fiscal aspect of this plan demands approximately $650 for an exhaustive 12-month coverage period. Following this initial year, students may become eligible to apply for a Nova Scotia Health Card, which bestows access to costless foundational health coverage via the Medical Services Insurance (MSI). Subsequent to the acquisition of a provincial health card, international students may have the option to opt out of any healthcare packages tendered by their respective educational institution, thereby presenting an avenue towards enhanced flexibility in their healthcare choices.

Explore the details on obtaining a  MSI.


Public Health Insurance Available: Not Applicable

It’s imperative to recognize that the territory of Nunavut does not accommodate any designated learning institutions (DLIs) for international students. Consequently, the issuance of international student health insurance remains inapplicable within this territory, thereby underscoring the lack of relevant infrastructure for such provisions.


Public Health Insurance Available: No

International students studying in Ontario are ineligible for enrollment in the provincial Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). As a consequence, all higher education institutions within Ontario extend healthcare coverage options specifically designed for the international student demographic.

Public universities typically dispense health insurance coverage through the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), while colleges and other privately-run institutions may introduce alternative options from different healthcare providers.

It’s essential to recognize that these healthcare plans provided by educational institutions are not proffered as complimentary services. Instead, the associated costs are typically integrated into the overall university fees, necessitating financial considerations for international students.

Explore the details on how to apply for UHIP.

Prince Edward Island

Public Health Insurance Available: Yes

International students pursuing their studies in Prince Edward Island (PEI) stand eligible for public health insurance provided their residence in PEI spans at least six months. However, it’s essential to note that the application for a PEI Health Card is admissible solely after a residency of no less than three months within the province. As a result, international students are obligated to secure health coverage either through their educational institution or a private health insurance provider at the commencement of their academic sojourn.

Should an international student meet the eligibility criteria for obtaining a PEI Health Card, there exists a possibility to abstain from the purchased health insurance, offering a measure of flexibility in their healthcare choices.

Explore the details on how to apply for a PEI Health Card.


Public Health Insurance Available: Sometimes

The province of Quebec has established reciprocal agreements with ten distinct countries, occasionally granting residents from these nations the opportunity to register for costless fundamental health insurance through Quebec’s Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).

However, if an international student hails from a country not encompassed within the purview of these reciprocity agreements, automatic enrollment ensues for the acquisition of the group health insurance plan tendered by their educational institution.

In scenarios where a student’s eligibility for RAMQ or their institution’s group health insurance plan remains unattainable, a compulsory commitment awaits: the acquisition of private health insurance for the entire duration of their stay in Canada.

Explore the details on applying for health insurance through RAMQ.


Public Health Insurance Available: Yes

International students with an educational voyage unfolding in Saskatchewan for a duration of at least six months may become eligible to register for complimentary foundational health coverage through the province, facilitated by the acquisition of a Saskatchewan Health Card. Certain educational institutions in Saskatchewan adopt an automatic enrollment approach for international students, facilitating the purchase of private health insurance plans.

International scholars may find themselves with the possibility of opting out of the prescribed health insurance plan if they can furnish demonstrable evidence of pre-existing health coverage derived from another source. This alternative source could either be the Saskatchewan Health Card or a private insurance provider, thereby granting international students a degree of flexibility in their healthcare decisions.

Explore the details on obtaining a Saskatchewan Health Card.


Public Health Insurance Available: No

The Yukon territory exclusively accommodates a single designated learning institution (DLI), known as Yukon College. Notably, this institution mandates the automatic enrollment of all international students into a compulsory group health insurance plan. This plan serves as a crucial safety net, affording coverage throughout the entirety of their academic pursuits.

Out-of-Province Medical Insurance

Provincial health care coverage, whether it emanates from a government-funded program or stems from a private healthcare plan, tends to confine its coverage to medical expenses incurred within the boundaries of the specific province. In light of this constraint, international students harboring aspirations of venturing beyond their province of study, be it to another Canadian province or a foreign country, should initiate a dialogue with their health insurance provider. This proactive engagement serves as a means to ascertain the extent of coverage during their journeys. Should it come to light that an international student’s existing health insurance does not extend to cover periods of travel, a recourse presents itself: the acquisition of private health insurance. Such a safeguard ensures that medical expenses incurred during their travels are comprehensively covered.

Healthcare Options

For international students seeking to delve into private insurance options available within Canada, a repertoire of tools and resources stands at their disposal:

  1. Find Insurance: This resource, managed by the OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance, serves as a publicly accessible tool that meticulously catalogs 99% of the insurance programs proffered by Canadian life and health insurance companies.
  2. OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance (OLHI): As an independent information service for consumers of Canadian life and health insurance, OLHI plays a pivotal role in offering impartial guidance. In addition to providing information, this organization functions as an autonomous avenue for addressing and resolving complaints raised by insurance consumers.


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