|When to apply||Immediately after arriving in British Columbia|
|Cost||The application is free|
|Processing time||1-2 months; coverage begins after a waiting period (the remainder of the month of arrival plus 2 full calendar months)|
International students: Copy of valid study permit OR work permit (eg. Post graduation or spouse/partner work permit)
Family members: Copy of visitor record or spouse/partner work permit
Additional documents may be needed
How to apply for your BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)
Tips for the process
Keep in mind:
- The easiest application method is to apply online.
- If you decide to submit a paper application by mail, consider using a secure mailing method (such as Canada Post Xpresspost) to mail your request and include
- You will receive a new BC Services Card (formerly known as “BC CareCard”). Carry your card with you as well as a digital or paper copy of your study permit.
- As of February 22, 2018, to complete MSP enrolment adult Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents will need to obtain a Photo BC Services Card by visiting an Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) driver licensing office. Canadians who are new to BC: apply first for MSP, wait for your letter of instruction, and take the letter and photo ID to an ICBC office near you.
- Permanent residents and Canadian citizens may use their BC Services card as photo ID and their driver’s license. However, temporary BC residents (such as international students and workers) will typically be issued non-photo BC Services Cards. You can still apply for a separate BC driver’s license and/or BC photo ID if you wish by a separate application process.
Once your 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.
Maintain your eligibility
To remain eligible for MSP, you need to live in BC for a minimum of 6 months in one calendar year. If you are absent from BC for more than 6 months, you may need to re-apply when you return to the province and go through the approximately 3-month waiting period again.
For example, if you live outside of BC between May and December in 2019, you may need to reapply for your health insurance. However, if you are away from BC between September 2019 and April 2020, you remain eligible for MSP because you are only absent from the province for 4 months in each calendar year.
For more information, visit the MSP website.
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.
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.
- 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.
- The AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan does not cover travel to your home country.
- 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.
- For more information, talk to the staff in the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan office or visit their website.
Upon return to BC
- You must call MSP when you return to BC to find out about your coverage.
- 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.