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Health Insurance

All new residents of BC must enroll with Medical Services Plan (MSP) and obtain a health card as soon as they arrive. You are eligible for coverage after completing a waiting period that consists of three months. MSP provides health care coverage for the cost of essential medical services for all Canadian citizens and permanent residents of BC. It provides you with access to prepaid medical coverage for necessary physician services, hospital care, laboratory services and diagnostic procedures. MSP enrolment is a lengthy process with a 3 month waiting period. A newcomer to the Kootenay/Boundary can go to the Service BC centres in Trail or Nelson for their MSP enrolment. (and driver licence) Canada's health-care system for Canadian citizens is managed nationally by the federal government.

How it works

Hospitals, doctors, walk-in clinics and alternative health care providers are all available in the Kootenay/Boundary, however the communities have merged and the regional full-service hospital is located in Trail. Nelson has a patient care hospital with emergency services available 24 hours a day and in Castlegar the emergency services have scheduled hours from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. The Grand Forks hospital emergency room is open 24 hours, 7 days a week for emergency care. In addition, the centres also have walk-in clinics where nonemergency treatment is available. Ambulance service will transport emergency patients for a fee.

New residents arriving from outside Canada should contact a private insurance company for coverage during the three month waiting period. The insurance you need is called Visitors to Canada Emergency Medical Insurance and it covers visitors to Canada and landed immigrants awaiting provincial health care coverage.

Have the names and birth dates for any people you want to include on the policy and any medical conditions. The rates are based on the amount of insurance you purchase.

For Newly Employed:
Be sure to ask if your health coverage is covered by your employer. They will register for MSP on your behalf, will pay part (or all) of your premiums and deduct the rest monthly from your wages.

When your MSP coverage begins, you will get a BC Services Card. Each card has the person's name and a personal health number on it. Sign your card and always take it with you when you go to a doctor, clinic or hospital. You will also need your BC Services Card for prescriptions and when you register children for school.

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What you need to apply

Your application for Medical Services Plan (MSP) must include photocopies of documents that verify the Canadian citizenship or immigration status of each person in your family to be enrolled.
Acceptable documents may include:

Canadian Citizens:
- Canadian Birth Certificate
- Citizenship Card or Citizenship Certificate
- Passport
- Any documentation from a Canadian Vital Statistics department that verifies Canadian Citizenship

Permanent Residents:
- Record of landing
- Permanent resident card
- Confirmation of permanent residence

Temporary Citizenship & Immigration Canada Document Holders:
- Temporary Resident Permit
- Work Permit
- Study Permit

Online application available here

Forms can be filled out at a Service BC centre, printed or mailed if you phone MSP at 1800-663-7100 (1-4-4-4 to speak to representative).

Note; if there is no English on document then approved translation is needed:
Society of Translators and Interpreters of BC  604-684-2940

Where to Go

Medical Services Plan of BC (Service BC)

1050 Eldorado St.
Trail BC V1R 3V7

Phone #1: 250 364-0591


RHC Insurance Ltd

605 Columbia Avenue,
P.O. Box 3010
Castlegar, BC V1N 3Ha

Phone #1: 250-365-3392



Open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm, Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm
You may get temporary medical insurance (awaiting MSP coverage) here. You may complete enrolment to MSP here.

Service BC

310 Ward Street
Nelson BC
V1L 5S4

Phone #1: (250) 354-6104

Fax: 250-354-6102

Service BC Nelson

310 Ward Street
Nelson, BC
V1L 5S4

Phone #1: (250) 354-6104

Fax: 250-354-6102


Monday to Friday 8:30-4:30
Medical Services Plan registration and payments. Many other services, see website (e.g. birth, death, marriage certificates; business registration; rural property tax etc).

Service BC Trail

1050 Eldorado St.
Trail, BC V1R 3V7

Phone #1: (250) 364-0591
Phone #2:

Fax: 250-364-0561



Monday to Friday 8:30-4:30
Register for Medical Services Plan (MSP) and many other services (see website). Marriage, birth and death certificates; child care subsidy; hunter number cards etc.