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Ontario Travel Tips
We have provided a number of essential and helpful tips, facts and links to help plan your trip or holiday to and around Ontario. We want you to get the most out of your stay in our province. Choose a topic from the list below to discover ways to make your Ontario travel experience as carefree and enjoyable as possible.
Read about: Alcohol, Arriving from the United Kingdom, Customs & Duties, Duty-Free Limits, Driving Regulations, Electrical, Current & Metric System, Emergency Services, Gifts, Health Insurance, Hospitals, Postage, Public Holidays, Sales Tax, Time Zones, Living, studying or working in Ontario, Travel Info Centers
In Ontario, the legal age to buy or consume alcohol is 19 years old. Wine, spirits and beer are sold at outlets of the LCBO, the province's liquor control board. Domestic and imported beer is available at The Beer Store. LCBO and Beer stores are located throughout Ontario and are open daily including some holidays*. Alcoholic beverages may be sold and served daily in licensed establishments from 11 am to 2 am, and until 3 am on New Year's Eve. It is illegal to drink alcohol anywhere other than in a residence or on licensed premises.
It is illegal to operate a moving vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. You can immediately lose your licence for 90 days for refusing to submit to a breathalyser test. Charges may be laid under the Criminal Code of Canada for drinking and driving.
* Exceptions may apply.
Excluding Greenland, and residents of St-Pierre and Miquelon, visitors from all other countries must have a valid passport to enter Canada. Visitors from certain countries may also require visas.
Travellers under the age of 18 and unaccompanied by a parent need a letter of permission to travel in Canada from a parent or guardian. When travelling with children you should carry identification for each child. Divorced parents sharing custody of children should carry copies of the legal custody documents.
Non-residents of Canada visiting Ontario are allowed to bring in any reasonable amount of personal effects and a reasonable supply of food. (Reasonable means enough for personal use for the length of the stay.)
Many agricultural items are restricted or prohibited entry to Canada. All agricultural products must be declared to Customs officers upon arrival. Permission is required to import plants with the exception of houseplants from the United States. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides more information.
Visitors, 19 years of age or older, may import, duty and tax free, for personal use, either: 1.5 litres (52.7 oz.) of wine or 1.14L (40 oz.) of liquor or spirits; or 24 x 355 mL (12 oz.) cans or bottles of beer, ale, or the equivalent.
Visitors, 19 years of age or older, may import, duty and tax-free, 200 cigarettes; 50 cigars; 200 grams (7 oz) of manufactured tobacco; and 200 tobacco sticks. Beyond these limits, applicable Ontario taxes are payable, as specified by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Learn more about duty-free allowances.
Customs Offices are located at Canada's entry points to serve travellers in many ways.
The following is only an overview of the Canadian laws, entitlements and regulations that affect visitors from the United Kingdom. The most up-to-date information and advice, as well as the location of customs offices, is available from the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate or on the websites of the Canada Border Services Agency and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
A computerized, 24-hour Border Information Service (BIS) telephone service is reachable from outside Canada by calling: (204) 983-3500 or (506) 636-5064 (long-distance charges apply).
Residents returning home from Canada are entitled to import the following items duty-free per person (amounts may not be pooled among individuals travelling together):
Goods (total value):
Great Britain: 145 Pounds Sterling
One litre of liquor over 22% alcohol by volume or two litres of liquor under 22% alcohol and two litres of still table wine.
200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 250 grams of tobacco or 50 cigars.
50 grams (2 oz.) of perfume and 250 grams (9 oz.) of eau de toilette.
Unlike the United Kingdom, drivers in Ontario use the right-hand side of the road and there are three types of roadways, with differentiating speed limits.
Freeways with controlled access: 90 km/h to 100 km/h
Two-lane highways: 80km/h to 90 km/h
Roads in urban and other built-up areas: 30 km/h to 70 km/h
A valid driver's licence from any country is good in Canada for three months, but you may want to get an International Driver's Licence before departure, for extra identification. The minimum combined liability insurance in Ontario is CAN$200,000.
Car rentals are available at our international airports, train terminals and in many of our communities. Minimum age for rental varies between 21 and 25. You usually need a credit card to rent a car.
Bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey the same traffic laws. Bicycles are not allowed on controlled-access highways. For cyclists under the age of 18, it's mandatory to wear a bicycle helmet. However, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) urges all cyclists, of any age, to wear a helmet.
Right Turns on Red Lights
You can make right turns on red lights, unless signs indicate you can't. You must come to a full stop and then proceed with caution if the way is clear.
By law, drivers and passengers must wear properly fastened seat belts at all times in Ontario. Safety-approved car seats for infants and children (appropriate to age, height and weight) are also mandatory.
The standard electrical voltage current in Ontario is 110 volts/60 cycles. Outlets cannot accommodate European plugs on items such as hair dryers and shavers, unless the manufacturer indicates otherwise. To use your personal appliances you will need an adapter, which can be purchased at most airports.
Canada's official standard of measurement is the metric system. All road signs, speed limits, distances, weather reports and weights are in metric.
The following conversions may be useful:
- 1 Canadian gallon = 4.5 liters
- Miles x 1.6 = Kilometres
- Kilometres x 0.6 = Miles
- 80 km/h = 50 mph
- 50 km/h = 30 mph
- 30° Celsius = 86° Fahrenheit
- 20° Celsius = 68° Fahrenheit
- 0° Celsius = 32° Fahrenheit
- -10° Celsius = 14° Fahrenheit
- 1 Kilogram = 2.2 pounds
In many areas of the province, 911 is the emergency services telephone number for fire, ambulance and police. You can call 911 free of charge on cellular or pay phones. For other types of emergencies not serviced by 911, you should contact the operator by dialing zero (0) and say, "This is an emergency." Please remember that 911 is only to be used in an emergency.
Visitors can enter or depart Ontario with gifts for friends or relatives in Canada. No duty or tax applies, as long as each gift is valued at CAN$60. If the gift exceeds CAN$60 in value you will have to pay duties and taxes on the excess amount. You cannot claim alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, or advertising matter as gifts.
Visitors entering or leaving Ontario are welcome to enjoy duty-free shopping at major international airports.
Visitors are strongly urged to obtain supplemental medical insurance, before leaving their country, as foreign travellers must cover their own medical expenses. If you are taking prescription medicines, bring an adequate supply, make sure the drug is clearly identified and in the original packaging, and carry a copy of the prescription from your physician in case it needs to be renewed by a doctor in Ontario. For further information and insurance details, contact your travel agent or insurance agent.
The Ontario Hospital Association provides a complete list of hospitals across the province.
It's easy to keep in touch with friends and family at home via letters and postcards. Canadian postage stamps must be used on all mail. Rates are 57 cents for postcards and letters up to 30 g (1 oz.) destined for Canada, $1.00 for letters up to 30 g destined for the USA and $1.70 (up to 30 g) for other countries (2010 rates). Detailed information is available through Canada Post. Many drugstores, convenience stores and hotel gift shops also sell stamps.
Ontario 2014 Holidays
New Year's Day, January 1
Family Day, February 17
Good Friday, Arpil 18
Easter Sunday, April 20
Easter Monday, April 21
Victoria Day, May 19
Canada Day, July 1
Civic Holiday, August 4
Labour Day, September 1
Canadian Thanksgiving, October 13
Remembrance Day, November 11
Christmas Day, December 25
Boxing Day, December 26
Most banks, trust companies, credit unions, government services and post offices in Ontario close on holidays; be sure to call ahead. Some shops and restaurants may also be closed during these days. Sunday shopping is permitted in Ontario.
Many holidays are celebrated with festivals and seasonal events to add to your travel enjoyment. Check the Festivals and Events section of this website.
Effective July 1, 2010, Ontario has a 13% HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) that replaced the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) and the GST (Goods and Service Tax) and is applicable to most goods, purchased gifts, and services. The HST is also applicable to accommodations, food/beverges and gas 8% of the HST is the provincial portion and 5% is the federal portion.
Click here to see what is taxable and what is not.
Canada encompasses six of the world's time zones. Except for the northwestern region of the province, Ontario is on Eastern Standard Time Zone. Upon arriving in Ontario from the United Kingdom, set your watch back 5 hours.
Daylight Saving Time comes into effect at 2:00 AM on the second Sunday in March, when clocks are advanced one hour. At 2:00 AM on the first Sunday of November the clocks fall back one hour.
Requirements for study permits, and living and working temporarily in Ontario, along with essential and mandatory documents for immigrating to Canada, vary by your country of permanent residence and citizenship. One or more of the following resources can provide detailed or official information on visiting, studying and settling in Ontario / Canada.
While in Ontario, enjoy free travel counselling services by visiting one of our 18 Ontario Travel Information Centres conveniently located throughout the province. We can help you "Discover Ontario".
Services available at our centres include: gifts and souvenirs; currency exchange; theatre reservations and tickets to attractions; telephones; washrooms; picnic tables and playground areas. * Check specific centres to confirm available services
For additional information call 1-800-ONTARIO (only valid in when in Canada or the United States).
HOURS OF OPERATION: Daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Extended hours in peak season - June through August most centres open 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Toronto location open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday at noon - 5pm). Closed only Christmas and New Years Day. Check the hours of operation for the Centres you plan to visit by emailing or calling the Centre direct, or call 1-800 ONTARIO. (valid only when in Canada or the United States)
YEAR ROUND CENTRES
22064 North Service Road
Tel: (613) 347-3498
(Hwy 400 & Mapleview Drive)
21 Mapleview Drive East
Tel: (705) 725-7280 or Toll Free: 1-800-567-1140
NIAGARA FALLS ($)
5355 Stanley Ave.
Tel: (905) 358-3221
ST. CATHARINES ($)
(Westbound QEW at east end of Garden City Skyway)
RR # 4, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tel: (905) 684-6354
(Blue Water Bridge)
1455 Venetian Blvd.
Tel: (519) 344-7403
SAULT STE MARIE ($)
(Sault Ste Marie International Bridge)
261 Queen St. West
Tel: (705) 945-6941
62 Highway 401 Eastbound
Tel: (519) 682-9501
(Atrium on Bay)
20 Dundas Street West
Tel: (416) 314-5899
WINDSOR PARK ($)
110 Park St. East
Tel: (519) 973-1338
SEASONAL OPERATIONS - Open Mid-May to October
777 Highway 417, RR # 1
Chute a Blondeau
Tel: (613) 674-2000
PIGEON RIVER (Neebing)
7671 Hwy 61
RR # 7 Pigeon River
Tel: (807) 964- 2094
($) Denotes Currency Exchange Services Available.