Get Canadian Health Card

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How to obtain your health card in Canada’s 4 most populous provinces: BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario.

As exciting as it is to finally arrive in Canada with your PR visa, or to obtain your PR card if you’re already residing legally in Canada, you should take care of your healthcare status as soon as you receive PR status. Getting your provincial or territorial health card as soon as possible is key, because it means you no longer have to pay into whatever private health insurance plan you had been relying on in the first few months of living in Canada.

Note: You cannot get a Canadian health card from Service Canada. Health is a provincial matter in Canada and Service Canada cannot help you. You have to find the appropriate provincial office.

Here’s a look then, at how to obtain your health card in 4 of Canada’s provinces: BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Ontario Health Card

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What are the Eligibility Rules for OHIP

  • Be in Ontario at least 153 days in any 12-month period,
  • Be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days that you are living in Ontario
  • Make Ontario your primary home.

In addition, you must meet at least 1 of the following requirements:

  • Be a Canadian citizen;
  • Be a person registered under the federal Indian Act;
  • Be a permanent resident;
  • Have applied for permanent residence and have confirmation from IRCC that:
  • You meet the eligibility requirements for permanent resident status, and
  • You have not yet been denied PR status;
  • Have a valid work permit and be working full-time in Ontario for at least 6 months for an Ontario employer; in which case your spouse and dependents also qualify;
  • Have a valid work permit under the Live-in Caregiver Program;
  • Be a convention refugee or other protected person;
  • Have a Temporary Residence Permit (type 86 through 95 only);
  • Be a clergy minister legally in Canada and preaching in Ontario for at least 6 months.


How to Apply for OHIP


Step 1: Get the OHIP Application Form

Go here to download a Registration for Ontario Health Insurance Coverage application form. Remember that you need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 10.0 or above) to download the PDF file.

If you have trouble opening the file, you should right-click on the link to open a menu and then click on Save As. Then you should be able to open it from your PC.

When you have completed the form online and have printed it, you should clear your cache and then close the window in which the form will appear. This will ensure that the personal information you enter will not be available for others to see or use. This is especially true if you use a shared computer to complete your OHIP registration form.


Step 2: Visit Service Ontario to Apply for Your Ontario Health Card

Go to a ServiceOntario centre either as a walk-in or by booking an appointment. Go here for a list of locations for ServiceOntario. Remember, you must apply in person at a ServiceOntario centre. You cannot apply online. You will need to bring the following documents with you:

  • A completed Registration for Ontario Health Insurance Coverage form
  • 3 separate, original Identification Documents (copies are NOT acceptable):
    • One that proves either your Canadian citizenship or your acceptable immigration status:
    • One that proves you live in Ontario, including:
      • Ontario Driver’s License
      • Income Tax Assessment (Notice of Assessment)
      • Original, mailed utility bill
      • Monthly, mailed bank account statements
      • Mortgage, rental, or lease agreement
    • One that supports and confirms your identity, including:

Go here for a complete list of acceptable identity documents for OHIP.

Remember that children under 16 years of age do NOT need a photo or a signature on their card, so parents can register for them.

If the parents live in separate homes, you can ask for another record (a transaction record) in person at a ServiceOntario centre.

Children older than 16 years need a signature and photo on their card and must apply in person along with their parents.


Coverage starts up to 3 months from your approval by OHIP. You should have taken out paid health insurance coverage to cover the first few months (6 months to a year is often what you will be offered) in Canada until you and your family are successfully registered with OHIP and have your OHIP cards. Remember, you will normally have to pay for healthcare if you don’t have a OHIP card.

British Columbia Health Card

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Who’s eligible for health coverage in BC?

  • Be a citizen of Canada or be lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence
  • Make your home in the province of BC
  • Be physically present in BC at least 6 months in every calendar year – though if you are a citizen or lawful permanent resident you are allowed up to 7 months of the year outside BC, IF AND ONLY IF this is for vacations outside the province.


How to Apply for Health Coverage in BC


Step 1: Apply for a BC Photo Services Card

As of February 22, 2018, it is now the case that before you can enroll in BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP), you have to obtain your BC Photo Services Card, which is your gateway to establishing your status as a legal resident of the province.

  • Go to the nearest Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) driver licensing office in order to apply for your Photo Services Card. Go here to visit ICBC’s website and find the nearest driver licensing office to you. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see Locate a service near you and click on Driver licensing office.
  • At the ICBC driver licensing office you will need to:
    • bring with you 2 pieces of identification, one of which must be a primary ID. Go here to see a list of identification acceptable to ICBC driver licensing offices. Scroll down to where it says Accepted ID and click on the drop-down menus:
      • Accepted Primary ID
      • Accepted Secondary ID
    • Declare you are a resident of BC
    • Have your photo taken.
  • Your BC Services Card will provide you with a unique identifier, which is called a Personal Health Number which remains the same for your lifetime, regardless of your status. It is this Personal Health Number (along with your BC Services Card) that you will need to enroll in the province’s Medical Services Plan (MSP).


Step 2: Enrol in the BC MSP

As soon as you have your BC Services Card you should then apply to enroll in MSP. Your BC MSP coverage will start up to 3 months from your arrival in BC (the balance of the month in which you became a resident plus 2 additional months), so you will have to take out private insurance before arriving in Canada, as advised by IRCC. There are two ways to apply to enroll in MSP:


Enrolling in MSP Online:

  • Go here and scroll down to the middle of the page and click on the blue button that says Apply for MSP. It will take about 15 minutes to complete the form and you must use one of the following browsers:
    • Internet Explorer 11
    • The latest version of Mozilla Firefox
    • The latest version of Google Chrome
    • The latest version of Apple Safari.
  • You will also need the following when you fill out your form online:
    • Identification for all your family members including yourself that are applying. For Permanent Residents appropriate ID are:

      Go here for more information on Identification needed to apply for MSP


Enrolling in MSP By Mail:

Go to the same link as above to download and print the application form, HLTH 102. Scroll down to the section titled Apply by Mail and just below you will see the link to download the form. Mail the completed application form to the following address:

Health Insurance BC
Medical Services Plan
PO Box 9678 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC   V8W 9P7

Health Coverage in Alberta

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In the province of Alberta, all new, eligible residents must register for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) in order to receive hospital and physician services.


Who’s eligible for AHCIP?

To be considered eligible you must be:


  • Legally entitled to be in Canada and Alberta and to make your home in Alberta;
  • Have a commitment to be physically present in Alberta 183 days out of every 12-month period;
  • Not be claiming benefits or obtaining residency in any other province, territory, or country; Or
  • Anyone else who is deemed by immigration authorities to be a resident or temporary resident of Canada and Alberta, NOT including:
    • Tourists
    • Transients (usually homeless people who move from place to place in Canada)
    • Visitors.

As well, the following are ineligible for the AHCIP:

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces Receive coverage from Federal Government but dependents must register with AHCIP
Federal Penitentiary Inmates Receive coverage from Federal Government but dependents must register with AHCIP
Refugee Claimants Children of Refugee Claimants may be eligible for AHCIP if reside in Alberta and meet other requirements
Refused or Failed Refugee Claimants Children of Refused or Failed Refugee Claimants may be eligible for AHCIP if reside in Alberta and meet other requirements
People with Expired Immigration Documents Children of People with Expired Documents may be eligible for AHCIP if reside in Alberta and meet other requirements

The following people are considered Dependents under Alberta guidelines:

  • Married spouses as long as they register together with their spouse;
  • Separated spouses who can register separately or together;
  • Divorced spouses who must register separately;
  • Interdependent spouses who can register separately or together;
  • Single children under 21 wholly dependent on their parents, including adopted children, foster children, or wards of the court:
    • If parents are separated or divorced, then the custodial parent registers the children
    • If there is joint custody of the children, either parent can register but both cannot, and it must be agreed on beforehand by both parents as to which one registers the children;
  • Single children 21 years or older who are wholly dependent on their parents due to physical or mental disabilities;
  • Single children under 25 who attend an accredited educational institution on a full-time basis.

Finally, remember that for you to continue to be eligible for AHCIP, your supporting documents must be accurate, truthful, and valid (not have expired). If any of these conditions are found lacking in your supporting documents, then you could be denied coverage.

There are 3 basic types of documents that the Province of Alberta requires as supporting documents for things like Driver’s Licenses and AHCIP cards:


Proof of identity documents acceptable for your Alberta health card application:

These can be things like:

The following are NOT acceptable as proof of identity:

  • Debit or Credit cards or cheque cashing cards
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) cards
  • Interim or temporary driver’s license cards
  • Business and organization membership cards.


Proof of Alberta Residence Documents:

They must be original documents (NOT photocopies) with your Alberta address on them to prove you reside in the province. They must show your full name and address and be dated less than 90 days from the date you apply to register at AHCIP. They can be:

  • Electronic utility bills showing an Alberta address
  • Other non-utility statements or correspondence mailed to your Alberta address.


Proof of Canada Residence Documents for Your Alberta Health Card:

These are documents that provide proof you are a permanent or temporary resident of Canada. They include:


How to Apply for AHCIPM


Step 1: Download the application form for ACHCIPM

  • Go here to download the application form for AHCIP coverage. Scroll down and click on the first link under Step 1.
  • If your application is for children of a non-eligible parent download the application form for AHCIP coverage: Canadian Children of Non-Eligible Parents. The link is the second one just below the link for the standard application.

You can also pick up application forms at an Authorized Registry Agent and you can apply in person with your completed forms and supporting documents there as well. Go here for further information.


Step 2: Gather your supporting documents for your ACHCIPM application which should prove each of the following:

  • Your identity is who you say you are: see Proof of Identity documents above;
  • You are a resident of Alberta: see Alberta Residence documents above;
  • You are legally entitled to be in Canada: see Canada Residence documents above.


Step 3: Submit the Alberta health card application (ACHCIPM application)


Submtting Your Alberta Health Card Application n person:

Go to any Authorized Registry Agent in Alberta to apply in person with your completed application and supporting documents. Go here to find a location. Processing of in-person applications can take up to 5 days. Cards are then mailed from the AHCIP office.

Submitting Your Alberta Health Card Application by mail:

Processing takes up to 6 weeks and the cards are mailed to you from the AHCIP office. Send your completed application along with copies (front and back of documents) of your supporting documents to the following address:

Alberta Health
Attention: Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan
PO Box 1360, Station Main
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2N3

Health Coverage in Manitoba


Who is Eligible?

To apply for Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living coverage you must be one of the following to be eligible:

  • Returning Canadians;
  • Permanent Resident as long as you arrive in Canada with PR status or have that status granted while you are in Canada;
  • Work Permit holders if work permit is valid for at least 12 months in Manitoba – if your work permit is valid for less than 12 months you must obtain an extension to your work permit that makes it valid for 12 or more months before you can apply for a health card;
  • Children of Work Permit holders are eligible if:
    • Your visitor record is valid for at least 183 days
    • You are attending an educational institution or have a work permit yourself if you are 18 years or older.

You must also have your permanent residence in Manitoba and physically reside in Manitoba at least 183 days (6 months) per year.

The following are NOT eligible for coverage under Manitoba’s healthcare plan:

  • Tourists
  • Transients
  • Visitors
  • As of September 1, 2018, international students with a study permit issued by IRCC are NO LONGER eligible for coverage.


How to Apply for Manitoba Health Coverage

Obtain an application form here and register at one of the following places:

Registration and Client Services

Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living
300 Carlton Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 3M9
Business hours: Monday – Friday 8:30 to 16:30
Call 204-786-7101
Toll-free 1-800-392-1207


Bilingual Service Centre

Main floor, 170 Goulet Street
Winnipeg MB


If you live in a rural area, contact the city/municipal office nearest you.

Remember that when you go to register, you will need the following supporting documents:

Once you have registered with Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living, your coverage will begin on the 1st day of the 3rd month after your arrival in Manitoba. You should take out health insurance to cover yourself and your family during the waiting period.


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