Vancouver Island and Canada Fast Facts:
Customs/Entry: U.S. citizens and permanent residents should carry a birth or baptismal certificate or voter’s registration card. A U.S. driver’s license is NOT accepted as proof of citizenship. Naturalized citizens should carry documents proving citizenship, such as a green card or passport. Visitors from countries other than the U.S. must have a valid passport and may require other documentation, such as a visitor visa or alien card permitting entry.
Time Zones: Canada has 6 different time zones. The time difference from coast to coast is 4.5 hours. Vancouver Island runs on Pacific Time, with Daylight Savings beginning on the last Sunday in April and ending on the last Sunday in October. Daylight Savings is one hour later than Standard Pacific Time, Saskatchewan is the only province not to practice Daylight Saving.
Electricity: Canada operates on 110V, 60 cycle electric power (same as the U.S.). Non-North American visitors should bring a plug adaptor if you wish to use your own small appliances from home (i.e. razors, hair dryers). If you are visiting from countries such Australia, that use a higher voltage, you may encounter problems charging your re-chargeable batteries. Canadian electrical goods come with either a two-pronged plug (same as the U.S.), or a three-pronged plug, most sockets accommodate both.
Weights & Measures: While Canada changed to the metric system in the 1970’s they still use both the Imperial and Metric system. All speed-limit signs are in metric (i.e. kilometres/hour) and gasoline is sold in litres. Fresh goods and meat are primarily sold by the pound, and a metric breakdown is normally provided.
Currency: Currency exchange is offered mainly at banks and currency exchange outlets. Some stores, restaurants, and accommodation properties accept U.S. dollars. Exchange rates can vary. Tipping, like in the US, is a wide spread practice and workers in the service industry rely on the standard 15% tip as part of their income.
Taxes: There is a 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) currently in effect in Canada. There is also a non-refundable Provincial Sales Tax (PST) of 7% on goods except liquor, which is taxed at 10%. Accommodations are taxed at 17% which includes the 7% GST which is refundable to non-Canadian visitors.
Driving Laws: Canadians drive on the right side of the road (same as the U.S.) and use the metric system for distances and speeds, kilometres/hour rather than miles. You must have a valid driving license and auto insurance to drive a vehicle in Canada. A driving license from any country is valid for the first three months, while an International Driving Permit (available in your home country) can be used for one year. The use of safety belts, child restraints, bicycle helmets, and motorcycle helmets is mandatory.
Liquor Laws: The law in British Columbia prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 19 years. Impaired driving is a criminal offence, the limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is 0.08. Consumption of alcohol in public places is prohibited on Vancouver Island and throughout British Columbia, however drinking in provincial campgrounds at your site is permitted as it is considered private property
Nature has blessed the Vancouver Island Region with natural beauty, mild climate, and friendly people, ensuring this destination is one you'll never forget - everyone needs a little Island time.
Recently rated by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine as the World’s Best Island in Continental - United States/Canada and the third best worldwide, and voted #1 Temperate Island in the World by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler Magazine, Vancouver Island truly has something for everyone. Planning a family vacation? Vancouver Island - Victoria & the Gulf Islands have endless stretches of beach to play on vast tracts of untouched wilderness and lush, green parks to explore. How about a golf holiday? There are more than 50 scenic golf courses on Vancouver Island and most are open all year! Outdoor adventure? Choose from scuba diving to mountain climbing, wilderness hiking to ocean kayaking, caving to fossil digging. Of course the fishing, both fresh and salt water, is superb. Whether you’re yearning for the solitude of a surf-swept beach or the charm of a rural village, the silence of the forest or the hustle and bustle of the provincial capital, you can have it all and much more on Vancouver Island, Victoria, and the Gulf Islands.
Size and Population
The largest island off the Pacific Coast of continental North America, Vancouver Island is the 10th largest island in Canada, and one of 6,000 islands in British Columbia. For our American visitors, it is nine times larger than Long Island, New York; and for our overseas visitors Vancouver Island is larger than many European and Asian countries. On a map it looks like a miniature version of British Columbia, and a moderate size - Vancouver Island at its narrowest is 65 kilometres (39 miles) and 97 kilometres (58 miles) at its widest. Total population of the the Vancouver Island Region is 726,367 (700,593 for Vancouver Island, 18,926 for the Southern Gulf Islands, and 6,848 for the Northern Gulf Islands).
All communities, be they large or small, are accessible by either land, air, or water; in many cases two or more of these choices. With nearly 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of public road, just over 8,000 kilometres (4,800 miles) are paved; there are nearly 400 kilometres (240 miles) of railway in use – with the bulk of the rail winding its way along some of the most scenic routes on the Island, and there is a regular scheduled train year round. Several communities have airports, or air fields, and in some cases, float plane docks. Again, the bulk of air carriers operate on daily schedules, with some offering flightseeing tours. Vancouver Island, Victoria, and the Gulf Islands, being such that they are, have dozens of ports of call, wharves, and marinas open to watercraft of all shapes and sizes; they are a paddler’s nirvana with hundreds of little coves and islets waiting to be explored by paddle craft or sail- and powerboat. BC Ferries operates 47 ports of call throughout the Island and Gulf Islands on scheduled runs.