Canada believes everyone has a right to get appropriate medical aid which is one of its key attractions for newcomers. Despite a national healthcare system, each province manages its medical care uniquely.

Getting a health card is quite simple in British Columbia. It’s up to you whether you choose the ‘online’ or ‘mail’ method to apply for a BC health card. A short list of documents is required with the MSP application form. You must be British Columbian to hold MSP coverage. Within three months, you may own an MSP health card.

We will tell you how new residents of British Columbia may obtain health coverage through MSP in this guide. Moreover, we’ll go through the specifics of BC health care and demonstrate how to use it after you have landed in the territory.

So, let’s start.

What Is British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan (MSP)?

The National Health Act of Canada ensures that all Canadians have access to general healthcare from the government. But, the responsibility is divided among all the provinces of Canada to provide that treatment.

The program British Columbia offers its residents is the Medical Services Plan (MSP). Health Insurance BC oversees its administration issued by the Ministry of Health. The MSP pays for essential Medical Services rendered by doctors and, in certain situations, nurses after you obtain a BC health card. 

It covers the following treatments:

  • Medically necessary eye exams.
  • A few orthodontic solutions.
  • Oral and dental surgeries.
  • Diagnostic assistance.
  • Testing services.

If you have lived in British Columbia for a longer time, knowing what expenses are under MSP coverage and what you have to pay from your wallet might not be easy. Many things that are required for medical diagnosis or care are included.

Non-medically essential treatments (removing a wisdom tooth or other cosmetic surgery) are not covered. Many people formerly had to pay fees for MSP, which cost $75 each month for those earning $42,000 annually.

However, anyone who still owes money for unpaid premiums before 2023 still has to pay it by Jan 1, 2023.

What Are Covered Under British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan (MSP)?

MSP pays for all citizens’ medically essential treatments. Once you enroll in the plan, you will get your Personal Health Number (PHN). MSP covers the following medical procedures:

  • Appointments to a family physician or a medical professional.
  • Maternity care is given by a doctor or a nurse.
  • An authorized facility for diagnostic services and testing, such as x-rays.
  • Services for severe facial deformities in orthodontics.
  • An optical physician prescribes eye checkups for adults aged 19 to 64.
  • Dental procedures must be carried out in a hospital.
  • A yearly eye exam for infants 0 to 18 years old or seniors 65 or above.

If you qualify and receive economic assistance, other therapies, including chiropractic, neuro surgeries, and physiotherapies, could be reimbursed by MSP.

What Are Not Covered?

MSP pays for only essential medical treatments. The Medical Service Plan excludes the following medical services:

  • Tooth care.
  • Medically futile procedures or therapies, including cosmetic procedures.
  • Psychiatrist visits.
  • Regular eye exams for everyone from 19 to 64.
  • Medical tests are required for the job, life insurance policies, or immigration applications.
  • Medical screening procedures that are not required to be medically required.
  • Contact lenses and glasses, auditory tools, and many other medical devices.
  • Supplementary or complementary therapy procedures include chiropractic care, physiotherapy, massage, and many more.

How To Get Bc Health Card As A New Immigrant?

Before going directly into the submission process of the application, there’s something you need to know. Have you ever heard about the BC Services card? It is an identification card issued by the Canadian government that may confirm your age and identity.

It acts as a bridge to accessing the universal health card once you enter Canada. You may open your bank account while holding this service card. Once you receive this BC service card, you may choose one of the following two ways to apply for MSP:

  • Online.
  • Mail.


Filling out an application form online is just fifteen minutes away. Whatever necessary data you provide saves locally until the submission of your form. Following are some tips that you have to follow while filling out this form:

  • Fill out the option showing whether you are a Canadian citizen or an immigrant.
  • Provide a digital photo of your identity document after scanning, demonstrating your eligibility for Medical Services Plan.
  • Suppose you are shifting from your last province to British Columbia. In this case, you must provide all the legal and updated information and documents, like marriage certificates, to change your name.


You may also choose this method to submit your application. Following this method, you may download this form and take a print of it. Please fill out this form manually and attach all the required documents. Now, your application is ready to be mailed.

You may choose the following methods to mail your application depending on your residence:

  • V8W 9P7.
  • PO Box 9678 Stn Prov Govt.
  • Victoria BC.
  • Health Insurance BC.
  • Medical Services Plan.

After you enroll in MSP, you may use your BC services card to avail yourself of many medical and health services covered under MSP.

Eligibility Criteria For Msp

Have a look at the eligibility criteria for MSP:

  • You must be a British Columbian and have decided to consider British Columbia your new home.
  • You have to show your presence for about six months in British Columbia. This rule is for both Canadian citizens and newbies entering Canada legally.
  • Your relatives are likewise entitled to get MSP if you meet this criterion. The relatives may include your kids and spouse. 
  • Kids with study permits in Canada aged 19 to 25 are also eligible.
  • Employees of British Columbia also qualify for MSP.

When Does MSP’s Coverage Begin?

You have to pass through a waiting period before MSP initiation of MSP coverage. You must be wondering what does this waiting period hold? The answer is simple! Following is the duration that determines the waiting period:

  • The remaining days of the month, you arrive here in British Columbia.
  • Additional two months to the first one.

For instance, you may have to wait for Jan, Feb, and Mar to get an MCP health card if you land here in BC on Jan 15. It’s important to note that if your spouse comes to BC after your arrival, then the waiting period for both will be different according to the respective dates.

Required Documents For MSP Application

You can apply for MCP ASAP right after you migrate to Canada. Once your waiting time is finished, your coverage starts working. The following are the requirements for MSP applications:

  • Verification of Canadian citizenship–passport.
  • Your immigration status–PR card, study, or work permit.
  • A valid BC services card.
  • Enrollment application form.

How To Use Your MSP Insurance?

Suppose you need medical care, and to attain it, you present your health card. In that case, you will often not be asked to make a payment at that time. You should be aware that dental treatments, regular eye checkups, and examinations during travel are not covered by MSP.

These expenses are covered by UBCSUO Extended Health and Dental Plan. To improve prescription coverage after obtaining MSP, you might need to sign up through the BC Fair Pharmacare Plan (the lesser the income, the more medical help they get).

Generally speaking, you should visit clinics for non-emergencies and, for emergency situations, go to a hospital. Ask for an ambulance by calling 911. Numerous health screenings and treatments are available on campus through UBCO’s student wellness program.

How To Maintain Your MSP Insurance?

Your MSP coverage often expires the same day as your legal position in Canada–your study and post-graduation employment permits. There is an option to extend your MSP coverage right after you receive your renewed study or employment permit.

Extending MSP Coverage

Following are some key points you have to consider while applying for an extension of your MSP coverage:

  • Suppose you go for a visit outside of British Columbia, and MSP coverage expires. You may apply for an extension of MSP coverage after returning to BC.
  • Suppose your MSP coverage and study or work permit expires on the same day. First, get your renewed permits and apply immediately for an MSP extension.
  • If you are a study permit holder, it may cost about $75-$76 for the extension of MSP coverage.
  • Application for your MSP coverage extension takes about 60 days (one to two months) to be processed. Your MSP health card becomes active right after your receive your extended coverage.
  • You may apply online or via mail for an MSP extension. We would recommend you choose the online method for this purpose.
  • Have a look at the documents required to apply for an MSP extension:
    • PR Holder Students: Canadian PR card, immigration records, passport, birth certificate, citizenship certificate.
    • Foreign Students: Post-graduation work and study permit photocopies.
    • Family Members: Study permit, work permit of a spouse, passport having Canadian visa, photocopy of your tourist record.

The documents may vary or can be added according to circumstances.

Impact of Maintaining Status on Your Coverage

Suppose you apply for your new immigration status before the current one expires. You can continue living in Canada without receiving the new permits. In this case, you get your ‘maintained status, ‘ also known as ‘implied status.’

It’s important to note and remember the expiry date of your study and work permits and your MSP coverage. If both dates seem to coincide, you must be anxious about securing your health coverage.

Simultaneously, apply for renewal of immigration status so that you may provide the proof of this paperwork with the application for an extension of your MSP coverage because you are not eligible for an MSP extension if you don’t have valid immigration status in Canada. 

MSP Coverage Extending Beyond BC

Want to leave British Columbia for vacation or for some work related to your job? You can move! Congrats, as there is no obstacle in your health coverage. You may continue using your MSP health card after a brief trip beyond BC.

Your MSP health coverage will remain active if you stay here for six months. After living for six months, you may plan your visit anywhere in Canada. 

Moreover, if you leave BC for more than 6 months, your MSP coverage gets inactive. So, you may have to reapply when you return and endure the roughly three-month waiting period.

Hence, we always advise immigrants to Canada to purchase private health insurance before shifting here. This may protect you during the time before the MSP health card kicks in.

If you are planning to shift from British Columbia to any other province of Canada, you can use your MSP coverage. This use is for three months during the waiting period for your new health card for your new province.

How To Include Your Family in MSP Coverage?

Your family members may qualify for MSP coverage if they intend to stay in BC for six or more months. You must apply for health coverage for your family members and yourself on the same date if all of your lands are in BC.

The other option is to add your family members to your current health card if they join you after you arrive in Canada. Don’t forget to:

  • Attach photocopies of the immigration status of each family member, which must be valid for at least 6 months.
  • Provide proof of citizenship which includes the admission stamp of tourists on their passports. 
  • It also includes proof of whether the individual is a study or work permit holder.

During the waiting time of three months of your coverage application procedure, you may get help from an insurance corporation temporarily. Also, add your newborn kid to your existing health coverage if he/she is born in British Columbia.

Check Out How to apply Medical Services Plan for BC Students CA, step by step guide


Who Qualifies For The Guaranteed Income Supplement?

The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a monthly payment, and you can be eligible for it if:

• You reside in Canada.
• Your age is 65 or above.
• You receive a pension via Old Age Security (OAS).
• While considering marital status, your earnings are less than the GIS’s maximum yearly income criteria.
• Old-age security retirees who earn a modest income can get the supplement.

There is no tax due. You receive a letter in the month following your 64th birthday which informs you of the exact time of your 1st payment. 

Is BC Service Card The Same As A Health Card?

Health care has been superseded with the BC services card. A Services card is basically an identification issued by the Canadian government. It provides proof of whether you are eligible or not for MSP coverage via your age and identity.

For qualified residents of British Columbia, BC services card offers access to government health benefits. BC services card is an option available to British Columbians only. 

How Long Does It Take To Get A BC Id?

British Columbia Identification (BC ID) Card is a driving license you must own while living in BC. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks to get a BC ID. You can own BC ID only if you apply appropriately for it.

You must go to the driving license office and pay the fee. Let the worker capture your photo. Submit the application with the required documents, and you will receive your BC ID card within a few weeks.

Final Thoughts

Beautiful mountains, luxuriant woods, and a wild shoreline are hallmarks of British Columbia. Everyone may find something to enjoy in British Columbia, which offers vibrant cities, stunning islands, and a wine region.

Attaining a health card is a primary step to take after landing in British Columbia. British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan (MSP), like other provinces of Canada, has application and processing requirements before you may start receiving benefits. 

We hope you have grasped all the details precisely, and it might help you out exploring British Columbia with great interest. While researching, you may come out with so many queries. Please make a list, and ask us in the comment section below. We will reach out soon. Have a good day and good life ahead!