How to apply for your BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

Overview of process

When to apply Immediately after arriving in British Columbia
Cost $75 per month for study permit holders
Processing time 1 to 2 months; coverage begins after a waiting period (the remainder of the month of arrival plus 2 full calendar months)

Apply online (recommended) or by mail

Review the UBC MSP Application Guide (pdf) to prepare your MSP online application.

Supporting documents

International students: Copy of valid study permit or work permit (e.g., Post-graduation or spouse/partner work permit)

Canadian students: Copy of proof of status (e.g., Canadian permanent resident card, record of landing, confirmation of permanent residence letter, Canadian passport, birth certificate, citizenship card, or citizenship certificate)

Family members: Copy of visitor record, study permit, spouse/partner work permit, or passport stamp showing arrival date to Canada

Additional documents may be needed.

Tips for the process

The easiest way to apply is to submit an application online.

If you decide to submit a paper application (pdf) by mail, consider using a secure mailing method such as Canada Post Xpresspost.

International students

If you are reapplying for MSP after no longer being covered by the plan, you will need to go through the approximately 3-month waiting period again. Be sure to get temporary private health insurance, such as the Global Campus Health Plan, to cover you until you can reinstate your MSP coverage. Visit the MSP page for more details.

Temporary BC residents (such as international students and workers) will typically be issued a non-photo BC Services Card (formerly known as “BC CareCard”). Carry your card with you as well as a digital or paper copy of your valid study permit or work permit (such as post-graduation or spouse/partner work permit)

You can also apply for a BC driver’s license and/or BC photo ID by submitting a separate application.

Domestic students

As of 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. 

Apply for MSP, wait for your letter of instruction, and take the letter and a primary and secondary photo ID document such as your driver’s license or your BC ID Card, to an ICBC office near you.

Get important information on MSP

Learn about how to maintain your MSP coverage, how to make payments, what happens if you will be outside of BC and more.

Review MSP details

Register for BC Fair PharmaCare

It is recommended for most students to register for the BC Fair PharmaCare program, which may provide additional coverage for prescription drugs, medical devices, and pharmacy services. PharmaCare registration may be required for prescription coverage through the AMS/GSS Health and Dental plan. 

Since coverage is based on income, the application requires proof of your previous income based on taxes filed in Canada 2 years ago. If you are a new resident of Canada, recently turned 19, or were exempt from filing taxes in Canada 2 years ago, you might be able to submit a Fair PharmaCare Proof of Income Affidavitcontact MSP for assistance.

As of October 2022, you can register for the BC Fair PharmaCare plan at the same time you apply for MSP. It is also possible to register for Fair PharmaCare separately.

You need to provide a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to apply. If you don’t have a SIN yet, consider applying for MSP separately as soon as you arrive in BC, and then register for PharmaCare once you have your SIN.

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who has resided in Canada for at least the past 12 months, you might also be eligible for supplementary benefits.

If you have questions about enrollment with Fair PharmaCare, contact MSP.

Related resources

If you have questions

Health and wellbeing resources

If you’re studying in or outside of Canada, there are support options available to you. Answer a few questions and find the resources specific to you. 

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International Student Guide

Find everything you need to know about life as an international student at UBC's Vancouver campus.

View the guide