Medical Services Plan (MSP) for international students

MSP is BC’s provincial health insurance plan. Anyone living in BC for six months or longer (including international students) is required by law to enrol in MSP and pay the plan’s premiums.

About BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

What is MSP?

Medical Services Plan (MSP) is a mandatory health insurance plan, for everyone who lives in British Columbia (BC) for six months or longer. MSP is an important part of benefitting from the health care available to all BC residents. Apply for MSP online immediately after you arrive.

Why do I need MSP?

MSP covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services. In most cases, you will not have to pay at the time you seek medical care when you show your BC Services Card. For a full list of your medical and health care benefits, visit the MSP website.

When do I need MSP?

You must apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC. There is a three-month waiting period before MSP coverage begins: this is the rest of the month in which you arrive in BC, plus two full calendar months. For example, if you arrive in BC on August 25, you are eligible for MSP coverage starting November 1.

Designed to coincide with the waiting period for MSP, most new international students are covered by iMED for their first three months in BC.

What is not covered?

MSP does not cover dental care, prescription drugs, routine vision care (such as eye examinations or corrective lenses), or travel. The AMS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan is designed to cover these costs.

Approximate cost

Effective January 1, 2020

All international students: $75 health-care coverage fee per month

If your family is with you in Canada, they will only be assessed the new health-care coverage fee if they also hold study permits. If they hold work permits or are here as visitors, they will not be assessed the fee.

These fees are subject to change. Check the MSP website for more the most up to date information.

Once your MSP coverage begins

  • MSP will send you an invoice in the mail. You need to start making payments after receiving the invoice.
  • Remember to tell MSP if you change your address, change your name, leave BC permanently, or need to add/remove dependents to or from your coverage (e.g. you get married, divorced, have a common-law partner, or have children). See the Managing your MSP Account page.
  • Remember to keep your MSP valid by renewing your MSP coverage each time you extend your temporary residency in Canada (for example, when you extend your study permit or get a post-graduation work permit). Be sure to read the “how having implied status affects your coverage” if this applies to you. 

Enrol your family

If your family members plan to reside in BC for six months or more, they may also be eligible for MSP.

  • If your family members arrive in BC with you (i.e. within the same calendar month), you can all use one enrolment form to apply for MSP. Simply fill in your family members’ information on the online form or the second page of the paper form
  • If your family members arrive in BC at a later date (outside of the same calendar month), you can use the MSP Account Change form to add them to your existing MSP. Visit the Forms for B.C. Residents page to complete your family's enrolment (you can do so online or by mail).

Remember to include photocopies of every family members’ Canadian status document (e.g. a study permit, visitor record, or work permit) valid for six months or more in the application. Some visitors will have only an entry stamp in their passports; photocopy this as their status document.

Also remember that your family members also need to go through the three-month waiting period and should purchase a temporary health insurance for that period.

If your child is born in BC, you can add them to your MSP through the Baby Enrolment/Addition of a Newborn form.

Maintain your eligibility

Generally, your BC Services Card has the same expiry date as your status in Canada, such as the expiry date of your study permit or post-graduation work permit. If you have to extend your immigration documents, make sure you extend your MSP coverage as well.

How having implied status impacts your MSP coverage

If you have implied status, your BC MSP will end on the expiry date of your current immigration document and will not be activated until you provide BC MSP with proof of your new immigration document (i.e. a copy of your study permit or post-graduation work permit). 

Request continious coverage

You can request continuous coverage and a reinstatement of your BC MSP by uploading the following documents along with the copy of your new immigration document on the online application portal:

  1. A letter written by yourself explaining your status and your request for continuing coverage, such as “I would like to request continuous coverage of BC MSP as I applied to extend my immigration documents before my BC MSP and immigration status expired”, and
  2. Copy of the IRCC PDF submission confirmation confirming that they received your application (available in your MyCIC account)

Requests will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Within 1-2  business days after submitting your documents online, call BC MSP to check on your request for continuous coverage of MSP. 

If approved for continuous coverage, you will be requested to pay for the monthly health-care fees for the months in which you held implied status and any medical expenses incurred during your implied status may be eligible for reimbursement only up the fees that BC MSP will normally pay for.

If there is a gap in your BC MSP coverage during your implied status period, you are strongly recommended to obtain temporary private insurance such as the Global Campus Health Plan to cover you during the period until BC MSP is reinstated.

Depending on the length of the gap in your BC MSP coverage, you may need to re-apply for BC MSP when you obtain your valid permit and go through the approximately 3-month waiting period again, during which time you must obtain temporary private insurance.

For more information, contact BC MSP.

MSP coverage while traveling

If you’re leaving BC temporarily due to a co-op placement or travel plans, you will continue being billed for your health-care coverage fee. 

Before leaving BC

You must call MSP to discuss how your coverage could be impacted by travel plans. 

While away from BC

You can use the travel insurance included in your AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan only if covered by MSP (or other equivalent basic coverage such as private basic health insurance) when you are travelling. Make sure you understand MSP’s residency requirements.

  1. Although MSP provides only limited coverage when you travel internationally, your AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan does provide coverage. To use the travel insurance in your AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, you must also have basic insurance such as MSP or an equivalent.
  2. The AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan does not cover travel to your home country.
  3. If you paid the MED/DENT fee (view your financial summary on the SSC) when you began your studies in September or January, you have the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan. This plan is valid until August 31.
  4. For more information, talk to the staff in the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan office or visit their website.
Upon return to BC
  1. You must call MSP when you return to BC to find out about your coverage. 
  2. If you must re-apply and go through the 3-month waiting period for MSP again, be sure to obtain temporary private health insurance such as the Global Campus Health Plan to cover you during the period until BC MSP is reinstated.

iMED vs. MSP

How to apply or extend your MSP

Get help

International Student Advising

Talk to an advisor

International Student Advisors are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) who can help.

When emailing us, include the following information in the email:

  1. Your student number in the subject line
  2. Your name
  3. Your citizenship(s)
  4. All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  5. Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  6. If you request specific assistance, please provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter
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