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Health insurance for International Students in Canada

As a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, applying for public insurance enables you to gain access to most healthcare services for free.

Once you use public healthcare services, you would likely be taking treatments for free as the universal healthcare system charges through taxes. All a citizen has to do is show his/her insurance card to the hospital or medical clinic. Each province and territory has its own insurance plan. All you have to do is identify what your plan covers.

All provinces and territories in Canada provide free emergency medical services, regardless of the citizen not having a government health card. This could only be restricted depending on your immigration status. Due to this reason, an international student preparing to study in Canada must prepare health insurance that will cover them throughout their duration of the study.

The Canadian health care system varies from one province to the other, therefore international students who want to study in Canada should be familiar with the health system of the province they are applying for.  Some provinces do cover international students under provincial insurance plans, but the bulk of provinces require students to register for personal insurance plans. 

Canadian Health Care

The Canadian health care system is a publicly funded health care system that provides free health services to Canadian citizens and is managed and administered on a provincial and territorial level guided under the Canadian Health Act.

The aim of the Canadian government is to provide quality and standard health services to all citizens regardless of their medical record, income, and standard of living.

It is to be noted that the general public health care system doesn’t cover prescribed drugs, home care or long-term care, prescription glasses, or care, therefore Canadian citizens buy these services either out of their pockets or through private medical insurance and employer-sponsored plans.

Foreign nationals in Canada on a temporary resident permit (TRP), should know that they are expected to pay out-of-pocket for their medical services unless they have an insurance plan to cover them throughout their stay in Canada.

Most immigration programs ought temporary residents to acquire private health insurance that will cover them throughout their duration of stay.

Temporary residents can acquire insurance through the following:

  • Purchase private insurance from an insurance company
  • If an applicant is working in Canada, he/she may receive health insurance from their employer.
  • If an applicant is studying in Canada, they may register for insurance through their school.

Benefits of Canadian Health Care Service

  • The Canadian health care service is available to all Canadian citizens regardless of their financial status 
  • The health education program is organized regularly by the provincial and territorial governments to citizens. It is a fully-funded program by the Canadian government that educates and creates awareness to citizens so they can avoid injuries and offer a more proactive approach to general health issues so that ailments are detected earlier thereby reducing their impact. 
  • The health care system provides special care and attention for a considerable group of people such as children, disabled citizens, and the elderly. For senior citizens or veterans and disabled children.

Health Care Services for Students by Provinces


An international student who wants to study in the province of Alberta, you may be eligible for AHCIP coverage if you are:

  • Students under 18 years of age must be added to the AHCIP account of a custodian.
  • Students who have a 12-month study permit (valid for an Alberta educational institute) and who will reside in Alberta for 12 months or more are eligible for AHCIP coverage and should apply.
  • Students with study permit valid for more than 3 months, but less than 12 months, maybe eligible for AHCIP coverage if their application is accompanied by a letter from the student confirming their intent to reside in Alberta for at least 12 months.

Learn how to apply for AHCIP coverage.

British Columbia

The province of British Columbia offers Public Health Insurance to students If you are planning to study in the province for a period of at least six months, applicants are eligible for BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP). iMED provides temporary health insurance that covers applicants for the 3 months as he/she waits to be eligible for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).

Learn how to apply for MSP coverage.


The Manitoba province does not offer public health insurance to international students. International students are expected to be covered by the Manitoba International Health Plan which is very expensive for non-citizens. This plan covers hospital stays, visits to the doctor, and x-ray.

Learn how to apply for the Manitoba International Student Health Plan.

New Brunswick

This province provides Public Health Insurance for international students. To be eligible to access the UNB Public health insurance Plan, applicants must enroll for full-time studies for at least one full academic year.

Learn how to apply for New Brunswick Medicare coverage.

Newfoundland and Labrador

These provinces offer Public Health Insurance plans to international students who enrolled for a full-time study of 12  months by the province’s Medical Care Plan (MCP). International students who are not eligible for this health plan will have to acquire private insurance that will cover them throughout their study duration.

Learn more about how to apply for MCP.

Northwest Territories

Applicants can apply for the Northwest Territories Health Care (NWTHC) provided they are studying in the program for a period of longer than 12 months.

Learn more about how to apply for Northwest Territories Health Care

Nova Scotia

This province does not offer a public health insurance plan to international students. International students will have to pay for a health insurance coverage plan that will cover them through their study duration. It is only available to anyone who has legally resided in the province for at least 12 months.

The cost of this plan is approximately $650 for 12months of coverage.

Learn more about how to apply for MSI.


There is no public Health Insurance because it does not have a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) for international students


The province of Ontario does not offer public Health Insurance for international students. International students are to pay for health insurance plans offered to them, usually through their institution fee.

Learn more about how to apply for UHIP.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island (PEI) offers a public health insurance plan to international students. To be eligible, you must be legally in Canada and you must be residing in PEI for at least 6month plus a day each year.

Learn more about how to apply for a PEI Health Card.


The province of Quebec sometimes offers international students a Public Health Insurance Plan. To be eligible for this plan, you must be a full-time student,  if you are a citizen and resident of a signatory country that has a social security agreement with Quebec. If you are not a citizen of that signatory country, you may still be covered under RAMQ.

The Public Health Insurance offered by the province covers medical and hospital services, it does not cover dental and optometry services. 

International students are advised to purchase “supplementary health insurance”.

Learn more about applying for health insurance through RAMQ.


International students studying in this province for a period of six(6) months may be eligible to enroll in a free basic health plan that will cover them.

Some of the institutions in the province will automatically enroll international students for a private health insurance plan, which the students will have to pay for.

Learn more about how to apply for a Saskatchewan Health Card.


The province of Yukon does not offer a public health insurance plan because it hosts only one Designated Learning Institution (DLI) which is the Yukon college. Therefore international students are enrolled by the college to purchase private health insurance which is compulsory for all students.  

Private Health Insurance

These are medical aid offered by your province or territory to citizens that are covered in other provinces and territories. For this reason, you are required to purchase private insurance if you propose to travel.

Private insurance helps to offer available services which will not be covered under your province or territory’s insurance plan. These services generally include prescribed drugs, dental costs, private hospital rooms, ambulance services, and prescription glasses. while your provinces’ Health insurance plans also exclude arguably “marginal” operations like IVF treatment.

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