Healthcare is the topmost priority, particularly for those who move to a new country or city. Start by compiling extensive data regarding the medical facilities in Canada that are accessible to overseas students. International students’ lives can be made considerably easier if they have access to government-funded medical care. Canada boasts a top-notch healthcare system. However, international student health insurance coverage varies by province. Specific limitations may apply. Read below a detailed summary of international student health insurance and access to healthcare in Canada.

How Does the Healthcare System work in Canada?

Canada’s healthcare system, known as Medicare, is funded and must adhere to the five principles outlined in the Canada Health Act:

    • Accessibility– Access to healthcare should be fair, consistent, and free from financial or other obstacles.
    • Universality–  Available to all Canadian residents. 
    • Publicly Administered– Operated as a non profit service.
    • Comprehensive Coverage– This coverage helps to cover all the needed medical services (determined by province).
    • Portability Across Provinces– Extended coverage across provinces and, to some extent, internationally.

Canada’s best healthcare insurance for students system includes hospital and doctor visits but generally does not include prescriptions, vision services, or dental care for international students. International student health insurance may be necessary to fill these gaps in coverage.

Does Canada Offer Free Medical Care to Foreign Students? 

As previously stated, the availability of free or premium health coverage varies depending on the province. If you are studying in Prince Edward Island, Quebec (with some exceptions), Ontario and Yukon, you might need to acquire private health insurance or obtain coverage through your educational institution.

Do International Students Have to Get Health Insurance in Canada?

Do International Students Have to Get Health Insurance in Canada

In provinces where healthcare coverage is not provided for students, having health insurance is crucial, often a mandatory requirement. If you get hurt or sick while studying in Canada, you won’t have to pay for the expensive medical bills.

What is the Cost of Medical Care for Foreign Students in Canada? 

Lacking health insurance or coverage from the province, you might incur significant expenses depending on the nature of the health problem necessitating treatment. Charges may differ:

    • Doctor’s charges – $120 plus
    • Urgent Care Attendance – $1,000 plus
    • Visiting the Hospital – $3,700 plus

Internationally Student health insurance comes with a different range from $600 to $900 per year.

Healthcare Support for International Students in Canadian Provinces

Here is a summary of the provinces that provide free international student health insurance and the requirements for eligibility in each province.

  • Alberta

Healthcare Support for International Students in Canadian Provinces 

Is healthcare free for international students studying in Alberta? Alberta provides free healthcare services for international students, offering a comfortable and stress-free lifestyle.

    • Entry Conditions:

If you are 18 years and below, you must be enrolled in a parent’s or caretaker’s Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) account. International students must remember these points to receive an AHCIP:

    • The students receive 1-year study visa at an Alberta institution.
    • The student is required to live for at least 12 months in Alberta.

You may still be eligible for AHCIP if your school gives you an enrollment letter without covering a 12-month study visa in Alberta. However, you will reside in the province for at least a year.  

  • British Columbia 

Is healthcare for international students free in British Columbia? British Columbia provides free healthcare services for international students.

    • Entry Conditions

The following criteria must be met to be eligible for the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP) if you are a student there: 

    • Required by law for all province residents intending to stay for six months or more.
    • Comes with a monthly premium for coverage, if you possess an overseas study permit.

Upon arrival, international students are required to enrol in MSP promptly. It is crucial to apply while still within the province. It is recommended to secure private wellness insurance while waiting for complete coverage, a process that typically takes three months.

  • Manitoba 

Is healthcare for international students free in Manitoba? Manitoba does not provide healthcare facilities for international students.

    • Entry Conditions

Under the Manitoba International Student Health Plan (MISHP), Manitoba mandates that international students have coverage. To qualify, they need to: 

    • Choose a valid course that easily provides a study permit.
    • Enrol in classes under an approved programme related to the coverage period (the university may have specific requirements). 
  • New Brunswick 

Is healthcare provided at no cost for international students in New Brunswick? New Brunswick provides free healthcare facilities for international students.

    • Entry Conditions

New Brunswick offers healthcare through New Brunswick Medicare for students from other countries who are studying here. To qualify, they need to:

    • Be enrolled full-time in a post-secondary educational programme at a recognised institution.
    • Own a current immigration document from Canada. 
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 

Is healthcare for international students free in Newfoundland and Labrador? Newfoundland and Labrador provides free healthcare facilities for international students.

    • Entry Conditions

For international students to be eligible for coverage under Newfoundland’s Medical Care Plan (MCP), they must have: 

    • A minimum 12-month valid academic permit from Refugees, Canada Citizenship, and Immigration.
    • A proof of full-time enrollment in a recognised higher institution in Newfoundland and Labrador. 
  • Northwest Territories 

Is healthcare provided at no cost for international students? Northwest Territories provide free healthcare facilities for international students.

    • Entry Conditions

To apply for health insurance, students who are under the Northwest Territories Health Care (NWTHC) programme must do the following:

    • A current study authorisation. 
    • Verification of a minimum of one year’s enrollment in a postsecondary institution in the Northwest Territories.
  • Nova Scotia

Is healthcare for international students free in Nova Scotia? Nova Scotia provides health care services but they have rules and regulations.

    • Entry Conditions

Only residents of Nova Scotia who have lived in the province for a minimum of 12 months are eligible for public healthcare. If not, international students cannot use it until after their first academic year at their institution. For the first year, many institutions will offer coverage, though.  

  • Nunavut

Is healthcare provided at no cost for international students in Nunavut? Nunavut provides healthcare services but they have rules and regulations.

    • Entry Conditions

It’s a must to get an education at Nunavut Healthcare Plan for international students:

    • International Students must hold a student visa for a year or more.
    • Students have to be enrolled in post-secondary education at Nunavut.
    • Students should have a proper address in Nunavut.
  • Ontario

Is healthcare provided at no cost for international students? Ontario does not provide free healthcare services for international students.

    • Entry Conditions

Although foreign students in Ontario are not eligible for free healthcare, most Ontario institutions do provide coverage via the University Health Insurance Plan. The tuition payments for students include these expenses. For additional information, contact the international student centre at your university. 

  • Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island healthcare system in Canada

Is healthcare provided at no cost for international students? Prince Edward Island provides healthcare services but they have rules and regulations.

    • Entry Conditions

To get health insurance in PEI, international students need to:

    • To apply for a Prince Edward Island (PEI) health card, you must be physically present in the province. 
    • Be permanent residents of PEI for a minimum of six months and one day every year.
    • Possess a passport.  
    • Possess a study permit proving eligibility for off-campus employment. 
    • Evidence of enrolment for the year at a post-secondary institution in PEI. 
  • Quebec 

Is healthcare provided at no cost for international students?

Quebec provides healthcare services but they have rules and regulations.

    • Entry Conditions

In Quebec, students from ten specific partnership countries can enjoy complimentary healthcare coverage provided by Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). For those hailing from countries not included in this list, healthcare coverage is generally arranged through their post-secondary institution. Should you not receive coverage from either your educational institution or RAMQ, it becomes mandatory to acquire private health insurance. 

  • Saskatchewan 

Is healthcare provided at no cost for international students? Saskatchewan provides free healthcare services for international students

    • Entry Conditions

For Saskatchewan to provide healthcare coverage to international students, they must: 

    • Have evidence of six months or more of full-time enrollment at an authorised post-secondary school in Saskatchewan.
    • A current study permit.
  • Yukon 

Is healthcare provided at no cost for international students? Yukon does not provide free healthcare services for international students.

    • Entry Conditions

Yukon’s health plan does not provide coverage for international students. Nonetheless, throughout the length of your studies at Yukon College, you will be registered automatically in their mandated group health insurance.  

Factors to Take Into Account for Health Insurance: 

Here are a few additional points to consider, regardless of whether you have insurance through your school, a private insurance company, or your province’s healthcare plan –

  • Health Insurance for Travellers  

Before you travel to other countries, make sure to get travel insurance if you’re an international student in Canada. If your health card is still valid, it usually covers you for travel within provinces. It’s important to get health insurance before leaving the country to avoid unnecessary costs if you need medical help.

  • Collecting Vaccination and Medical Records

Consult with your local physician or medical facility and obtain a copy of-

    • Student health information 
    • Prescriptions required for continuing medical care 
    • Records of vaccinations 

You must keep these documents on file since you could need them for specific co-ops or school vaccination requirements. 

  • Non-emergency Medical Assistance

Call 811 nationwide for free health advice from licensed Canadian nurses. They’ll guide you on non-urgent medical issues that may not need a doctor’s appointment.

  • Assistance with Mental Wellness for International Students 

It’s critical to look after your mental health. You may find a lot of materials to help you at each stage of your study. The student centre at your school offers services for those who are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), are making adjustments to life in Canada, or just need assistance in general. 

Additionally, a plethora of internet possibilities exist, such as: 

    • 7 Cups: A free online resource for mental health and counselling. Only regularly scheduled therapy sessions need payment. 
    • Canada Fitness Together: A free, private, and round-the-clock resource for mental health  
    • Talkspace: An affordable online counselling service.
  • Studying Securely with Health Insurance

It’s crucial to figure out the health insurance type available for international students in Canada. Ultimately, having the right coverage allows you to focus on your education and future career without worrying about stress.


Healthcare in Canada is not entirely free for international students. It depends from province to province. While some medical services may be covered through provincial healthcare plans, there are often limitations and additional costs. International students must explore and understand their healthcare options, including obtaining private insurance to ensure comprehensive coverage during their stay in Canada.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is healthcare free in Canada for work permit holders?

You will have access to free health care under the health insurance system of the province or territory when you are working.

What healthcare is not covered in Canada?

The public system in Canada is subject to limitations. Prescription medications used outside of a medical facility are frequently not reimbursed.

Who is eligible for Canadian healthcare?

To qualify for healthcare in Canada, individuals must be Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or have refugee status. Eligibility may also extend to certain groups such as international students with valid permits and individuals awaiting immigration status.

Do all Canadians get free healthcare?

A permanent resident or Canadian citizen has access to free healthcare, however, tourists and visitors don't get free public healthcare.

Is dental free in Canada?

In Canada, regular dental care is not part of the Canada Health Act (CHA). Many Canadians go to private dental clinics for oral health services and either use insurance or pay for it on their own. Some dental services are included in government dental programs.

Is dental care free for international students in Canada?

If you're an international student who has paid tuition, your school's dental insurance plan automatically covers you.