If your plan is to settle in Ontario, top on your list of things to do once you arrive should be to apply for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). “Why?” You may ask.

Sooner or later, you or your family members may require health services, which you can comfortably pay for with OHIP. Through this plan, the province of Ontario settles the majority of health services you may encounter.

But before you get the card, you need to apply, and it’s only after your application is approved that you’ll be able to enjoy the full benefits this plan offers.

Some of the health services it covers include doctor appointments, visits to walk-in clinics or to any other healthcare service provider, visits to an emergency room, surgeries, medical tests, and so on. For the services not covered under this plan, you will require private health insurance.

To get you started on how to apply for OHIP for the first time, let’s briefly look at who qualifies for the plan.

Who Qualifies for OHIP?

To be eligible for this plan, an individual must meet all of the minimum requirements mentioned below (and at least one among the additional ones listed further below)

Note: Some of the people not eligible for OHIP include tourists, foreign (international) students, refugee claimants (unless your claim has been accepted), and a select portion of foreign workers (unless you possess a temporary resident permit with either of the following case types: 80, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94 or 95).  

Minimum Qualifications

You must:

I. Be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days in any 12-month period

II. Have lived in Ontario for 153 days of the first 183 days you immediately settled in the province.

III. Make Ontario your principal home

Additional Requirements

Citizenship Status

I. You are:

  • A Canadian Citizen or;
  • A permanent resident or;
  • A registered Indian (under the Indian Act) or;
  • A protected person (convention refugee

II. You applied for permanent residence (PR) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has confirmed that you qualify for it, meaning you’ve not been denied.

III.  You’ve submitted your application for a grant of citizenship (under section 5.1 of the Canadian Citizenship Act) and IRCC has confirmed that you qualify for citizenship.

Temporary Foreign Workers

You are in Ontario and:

  • Working full-time on work permit valid for at least six months for an Ontario-based employer (employment reference letter or pay stub will be required for proof) or;
  • You possess a valid work permit under the Federal Live-In Caregiver Program or;
  • You Are a foreign clergy member looking to serve a religious congregation for at least 6 months

Note that a temporary foreign worker is required to apply for OHIP within the first 90days of acquiring their work permit and living in Ontario.

apply for ohip card

Accompanying Family Members

I. Your spouse/partner is a foreign worker who qualifies for OHIP

II.  You are the dependent child of a foreign worker eligible for OHIP

Next, let’s look at the process of applying for OHIP

Applying for OHIP

As we mentioned earlier, you must be physically present in order to apply for OHIP card. That means you have to apply for it in person at your local Service Ontario OHIP Office. The applications forms can be obtained online or from the aforementioned office.

Here are the documents you’ll be required to submit:

I. A Registration for Ontario Health Insurance Coverage form complete with all the required details

II. Three original identification documents that prove the following:

  • Your OHIP-eligible immigration status or Canadian Citizenship (Canadian citizenship documents-birth certificate, passport, registered Indian record etc.; Permanent Resident Card; Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292, 5688); Record of Landing (IMM 1000); IRCC documents-work permit, study permit, etc.)
  • You live in Ontario (Income Tax assessment, Valid Ontario’s Driver’s License, Original Mailed Utility Bill, Insurance policy, etc.)
  • Confirms Your Identity (Your passport, credit card, Valid Ontario Photo card, Student ID, Union Card, etc.)

Note that you can only apply for OHIP card if you have all the required documents.  Once you’ve gathered them and filled out the registration form, submit everything to your local Service Ontario OHIP Office.


A parent/guardian is allowed to register for children under 16 years.  Usually, kids below this age don’t require a signature or photo on their card. However, if the child is over 16 years, they’ll require both a signature and photo on their card, meaning they have to apply in person.

When does the Card Become Active?

The average waiting period until you get a health card is normally three months.  After it has been approved, coverage begins right away.

However, there’s a certain class of people for whom OHIP coverage starts immediately. They include:

  • Babies who are born in Ontario province and who are Canadian citizens
  • A select portion of internationally adopted children aged 16 years or younger and who are adopted/sponsored by an Ontario resident(s).
  • Convention refugees plus other protected individuals as classified by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
  • Individuals from another Canadian province or territory who move into an Ontario-based long-term care home within three months after their arrival.

What if My Application for OHIP is Denied?

If the authorities tell you that you don’t qualify for OHIP, you have an opportunity to request a review of their decision. Just send them a letter, email, or fax stating the reason(s) you believe make you eligible for the plan and attach any supporting information or documents with respect to OHIP eligibility. Don’t forget to include your contact information as well. The authorities will review your request and get back to you with a written response.

In Summary

Before you embark on your trip to Canada, learn as much as you can about how to apply for OHIP for the first time, in addition to the information we’ve shared here. If possible, contact an immigration expert or the OHIP offices and have them address all your concerns and questions in relation to OHIP residency requirements and everything else about the plan. Another important thing is that during the three months you’ll be waiting for your application to be approved, it would be great if you consider getting a private insurance package designed for visitors to Canada. Ontario has plenty of great insurance companies that provide this service.