INFORMATION

In Canada

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Formalities 

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PASSPORTS and VISAS
Passport must be valid. No visa necessary for tourism, a stamp for the duration of your stay 
when going through customs  will be all regarding formalities. A child travelling with one of his parents only should inevitably have in his pocket a document signed by the absent parent,  authorizing him to travel with the present parent.WARNING: For the young people (or lesser young...) avid to do a training in Canada, included in their studies curriculum, within a company... A special visa is necessary. Please, contact us for more details,  inquire at the Canadian Embassy (in Paris : 01 44 43 29 00) by asking for the  immigration department, or visit the website http://www.cic.gc.ca. The procedure is complicated and can last up to two months, but it is worth it!
Warning, you are authorized to import only one 10 packs box of cigarettes and one liter of alcohol per person. And the customs officers are watchful, little sensitive to joke and not ready to discuss the matter at all,  while being of a kindness and  courtesy by which other countries customs officers should indeed  be inspired.

PETS
Pets should have their pad of inoculation up to date, with necessity of an antirabique
vaccine of less than 36 months.

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Currency
USD are accepted everywhere in Canada. However, it's better to carry Canadian dollars, the US / CDN exchange rate being seldom interesting … Travellers Checks are negotiable everywhere, and the major  credit cards are accepted too. Banks and most of the hypermarkets have slotautomated banking machines accepting, for the greater part, the credit cards uttered in France and Europe.
The money is the Canadian dollar  and cents. The notes of 1 and 2 CAD are not current any more! You will find some 500$ notes, 100$, 50$, 20$, and 10$.Small change: 2$, 1$, 25 cents , 10 cts ., 5 cts ., and 1cts. 1 $ coins are called " loonie " because of the " loon ", sort of duck, which is its effigy. The 2 $ coin  is a " toonie ".

To know the daily rate:



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TAXES
It is there that things get complicated with regard to our "European" reading of the prices displayed. Here, no price is given " including taxes ". This to allow a better appreciation of price changes. The storekeeper can not hide behind a variation of taxes to revise his selling price (usually increasing them …)

The GST (goods and services tax) of 7 % applies practically to any deal in Canada, exception made for the purchase of basic products.

Besides the GST, the consumers of British Colombia pay a tax on sales, PST (provincial sales tax) of 7 %, which does not however apply to foodstuffs, to ferries nor to flats.

Another tax of 10 % is applied in flat and to the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants.

It is important to integrate these data into the calculation of the price of the product
which you wish to acquire, or of the service for which you will ask. A good way of
avoiding any unpleasant surprise is to  systematically add 15 % to the price announced.

You can obtain the refund of the GST on the purchases of goods which you will export at the end of your stay, as well as on the flat of short period ( less than a month), but not on basic consumables, even if you export them (food, alcohol, tobacco) nor on the rents of camper, boat, or  other means of transport (train, plane, car, taxi …) Forms for refund of the GST are in airports,  duty-free shops , customs offices, certain hotels … You will have to fill the form, add your receipts, and to send it to the address indicated on the form with in 60 days following your departure of the Canadian territory. You will be careful in keeping the originals of receipts, (and not only the credit cards slips) by verifying that the business name and the address of the storekeeper appears indeed on the invoice. These invoices will not be returned to you, so attention to invoices acting as guarantee! Photocopy …

The total of invoices should be of a minimum of CAD$ 200 , and every invoice should be
of a minimal amount of CAD$ 50 .

Airort tax
A tax intended for the improvement of the airport of Vancouver is to
settle at first. Please , keep CAD$10 a person for that purpose. Credit card accepted.


TIPS
In restaurants, at the hairdresser, or in taxis, it is advisable to leave a tip equivalent to  10 or 15 % of the amount of the note (before  taxes). In hotels, stations and airports, doorkeepers or bearers expect to receive 1$ by luggage. The tip is also a commonness in bars and clubs at night.

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Every day's life

Emergencies: A single number for Police, Fire brigades, and Ambulances: 911. Hot lines in to call outside big cities (national parks, highways...) are always posted in phone boxes.

Banks: Generally opened from Monday till Thursday from 10am to 3 pm, Friday from
10 am till 6pm. Numerous banks have longer schedules of opening, some are
opened on Saturdays,  except in town centre.

Museums: generally opened from 10 am till 5 pm, Saturday and
 Sunday included. Most are opened till 9 pm dur ing the week.

Hypermarkets: Opened from Monday till Wednesday, and Saturday, from 9. 30 am 6 pm. Thursday and Friday, from 9. 30 am till 9 pm. Numerous shops and foodstores opened on Sundays. 

Hi-fi equipment, photo, video:  In Canada as in United States, the power is 110 V (220V in France). Plugs are different ( flat index cards) and require adapters. If you bring with you your  hair dryer, your electric razor or your camcorder (to recharge batteries) please , think of it. Attention also if you buy an electric device in Canada, once back to Europe: it will not work, for the same reasons of unsuitable power. The purchase of a microcomputer in Canada can seduce you towards the proposed attractive rates. Attention however, without speaking about problems of customs (notably the acquitement of the VAT in France) you will have to resolve the problem of the electric source ( 110 / 220V ) and of the keyboard in the standard " Qwerty" ("Azerty" in France). Please , think then of the transformer, and change your fingering...

Photos: no problem of supply in films, obviously. Please , think of taking the
"ID" of your material, in case of control at customs. Films  bear very well the passage through security systems at airports, provided that they do not travel in hold, the systems of radiographic control being then much more powerful.

Videos: cassettes are here for the American standard ( NTSC) different from European standard ( Pal-Secam). Before buying films, make sure that your video recorder will know how to read them

Canadian national holidays: Are holiday: January 1rst, Good Friday, Easter Monday, 4th Monday of May, July 1rst, 1rst Monday of September, 2nd Monday of October, November 11th, Christmas ( December 25 and 26). The 1rst Monday of August is holiday in British Colombia only.

Holidays: There are 10 annual leaves in British Colombia. Generally, banks and certain
businesses are closed. Théatres, restaurants and small businesses remain opened, as
well as certain department stores in city centre.

Streets: One drives to the right, and the traffic rules are the same than everywhere else, or almost. There are however some small differences which have their importance... More information and some " small tricks " in the section "campers".

Traffic lights are placed after the intersection, or suspended in the middle. It is so necessary to forget the habit which wants that one stops the vehicle at the level of the traffic light …

The speed is limited to 50 kph in city, unless otherwise specified. And these opposite
indications are very frequent! One can say that the speed is generally limited to 50 kph
on the main avenues, to 40 kph in city, and to 30 kph in zones with strong concentration of pedestrians, near schools, and around parks. It is limited to 90 kph on highway, even to 80 kph sometimes. The police is very watchful, radars are numerous, and the fines are expensive … The residents receive a paper to settle the fine, and one sure thing is that the renter  of your vehicle will send you the note …

Pedestrians (and cyclists andin-line skates ) have right of way in every case. And they are generally very respected by the motorists. Cars stop generally well before the pedestrian passages, should one of them put just a nail beyond the pavement …

Canadians are in their great majority, just like their British cousins, and following the example of their American neighbours,  very courteous people, in the very present civil sense (that one would like to see again in Europe …). It ensues from it a very fluid and pleasant traffic (when two lanes merge, the alternation " one on two " is made automatically, with the smile …), lines at counters ( ticket offices, buses …) without jostling or quarrels, in a nutshell,  a much more quiet and pleasant life.

Tobacco: Here also, it is " no smoking" in public places,  including bars and restaurants. And this ban is not theoretical as in certain countries of Europe where everybody smokes, even between shelves of food in hypermarkets … This ban is very respected. Always in the same spirit of respect for the other one, the smokers generally  pay attention to position " under the wind ", when they are in the street.

Communication: By mail, stamps on sale in the post office (often situated in hypermarkets), in hotels and pharmacies. It costs CAD$ 1,05  to send a postcard or a letter to Europe. By phone, to call France, compose the international area code 011 followed by the country code ( France: 33 Belgium: 32 Swizzerland: 41 Luxembourg:352) then the number, without adding the first zero of the number. You can use your credit card, or a   call card from payphones. To make a local call  from a payphone, a 25 cents coin is enough. For a long-distance call, compose the 1, followed by the area code of the region then the number of your correspondent. The numbers 1 800... Or 1 888... Are free.

Cultural activities and events
The "Hot Line " for artistic events: once in Vancouver, or to prepare your stay, please  call 604 684 ARTS to obtain recent informations about the events on stage and the current exhibitions in Vancouver and its neighborhood. From 9 am till 5 pm, pacific standard time. Past this schedule, you will be directed to an answering machine.

On the spot, get the " Georgia Straight", free weekly of the cultural life of Vancouver. Concerts, theaters, cafés with live music, dance, cinema … Everything is there. The best  card to schedule your evenings! Found everywhere in town...



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