I moved to Canada in 2004 from the United States. Before moving here, I knew very little about Canada. I realized that is true for many people. Canada seems to be that place that has beautiful scenery that people don’t know much about. One of the first questions? “Is Canada Safe”.
I’ve traveled extensively across North America, Europe and Asia and personally, I can tell you that Canada is extremely safe in my opinion. The low crime rate across the country (including in most big cities) means you will generally feel safe wherever you go.
When deciding where you travel, though, personal opinions are less important than cold hard facts. In this post, we will do our best to lay out the facts about traveling safely in Canada.
Let’s start out with the fact that Canada ranks as the 10th most peaceful country in the Global Peace Index compared to other countries. Reading the Global Peace Index for 2021 is an interesting deep dive into what goes in to a feeling of peace when visiting or living within a country. The report is compiled by The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.
US Travelers – The US State Department currently lists Canada as Level 3: Reconsider Travel due to COVID 19. It’s a good idea to check with your home country to see what travel advisories they list before you make your travel plans.
Traveling to Canada
Most people traveling to Canada arrive by plane or by car. It is important to understand the Canadian visa requirements for the country you are visiting from and how long you are able to stay in Canada. You don’t want your visit to be ruined before you even get out of the airport! While going through immigration during my move to Canada, I stood next to a girl from Asia who visited Canada saying she was on a holiday. Her return ticket was for 2 days later and she said she was driving from Calgary to Vancouver. That isn’t actually possible during that time frame so she was not allowed to leave the airport. They assumed she was planning to ditch her return flight to remain in Canada illegally. Make sure to double check your trip before you leave!
As with any international trip, we recommend you buy travel insurance for trip interruption/cancellation as well as travel medical insurance. Even if you are from the US (which seems so close), your insurance will not work in Canada unless you have a specific travel medical insurance adder. While Canada is a safe place, accidents can always happen. It’s best to be prepared.
COVID Travel Requirements for Those Entering Canada:
All travelers arriving in Canada must use ArriveCan to submit their travel information.
From the Government of Canada Travel Website (12/9/2021) – Temporary border restrictions and measures to address COVID-19 Omicron variant of concern in effect: Fully vaccinated travellers who have been in any country other than Canada and the United States in the 14 days prior to entry to Canada may be selected for arrival testing. They must quarantine in a suitable place until they receive a negative test result. If they’re selected for arrival testing, they may take connecting flights to their place of quarantine.
The Government of Canada is increasing the number of fully vaccinated travellers being selected for testing to reach 100% of vaccinated travellers in the coming weeks.
Entering Canada by air or at a land border crossing
From the Government of Canada Travel Website (12/9/2021) – Meet these requirements if you are eligible to enter Canada, and do not qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption, or other special exemptions for your situation.
- Find out if you can enter Canada
- Assess your quarantine plan before you travel
- Get your pre-entry molecular test result
- Register in advance for your arrival test
- Use ArriveCAN to submit your travel and quarantine plans
- Have your ArriveCAN receipt, test results, and quarantine plans ready for assessment by a Border Services Officer
Traveling Through Canada to Another Destination (including Alaska)
From the Government of Canada Travel Website (12/9/2021) – Make your travel arrangements well in advance if you are transiting through Canada
- plan your travel so you arrive and depart from the same Canadian airport within 24 hours. Domestic transfers are not permitted
- make sure your baggage is checked through to a destination outside of Canada
- connections must occur on the same day at all Canadian airports except Toronto Pearson (YYZ)
- Overnight connections are not possible at:
- Montréal-Trudeau (YUL)
- Calgary International (YYC)
- Vancouver International (YVR)
COVID Travel Requirements for Within Canada:
From the Government of Canada Travel Website (12/9/2021) If you’re 12 years of age plus 4 months, or older, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated in order to board:
- domestic or international flights departing from most airports in Canada, including charter and foreign airlines carrying commercial passengers
- Medevac flights are excluded, regardless of where they depart or land
- Private flights that don’t require access to airports with a vaccination requirement are excluded
- VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains
Each province in Canada has its own provincial COVID requirements. Make sure you find out the requirements in each province you plan to visit.
- Alberta (Calgary, Edmonton, Banff)
- British Columbia (Vancouver, Victoria)
- Manitoba (Winnipeg)
- New Brunswick (Fredericton)
- Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s)
- Northwest Territories (Yellowknife)
- Nova Scotia (Halifax)
- Nunavut (Iqaluit)
- Ontario (Toronto, Ottawa)
- PEI (Charlottetown)
- Quebec (Montreal)
- Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Regina)
- Yukon (Whitehorse)
Most places in Canada require you to mask when out in public and many places require proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, event spaces, etc.
Is Canada Safe? – Crime
If you are traveling from the US to Canada, you can visit Canada knowing that the crime rates per capita in Canada are lower than the US in almost every single category. Delve into the comparisons of Canada vs the US Crime rates to ease your mind. As always, it is important to use common sense when you travel. Don’t call attention to yourself. Blend in with the locals and you won’t shout “tourist and ripe for the picking!”. Make sure you have copies of important travel documents with you and with someone at home. Keep your family and friend apprised of where you are and your itinerary in case something happens. And generally, just keep an eye on your surroundings. If somewhere looks sketchy and isn’t well lit, don’t go that way.
Weather Safety Considerations
Is Canada safe? Well, Canada is a large country and the weather can be dangerous at times. The key to ensuring your safety is to be prepared. Outside of large cities, access to services can be spotty. It is important that you know where you are going and ensure that you are prepared (especially in winter).
- Make sure that your transportation options are confirmed and ready for the trip. If you are renting a car in winter, consider getting one fitted with winter tires (especially if you are not used to driving in snow).
- Make sure your car has a window brush/scraper.
- Ensure that your car has enough gas to reach your destination or plan where to stop for gas along your route.
- Rural areas may not have cell service coverage so ensure that you are prepared and that you know how to reach help if need be.
- Always carry weather appropriate gear in your car (including heavy winter coats and boots) if you are traveling in winter in case of breakdown or accident.
- Always carry food and water with you if you are traveling through an area without cell service or services. It may seem silly but you will be glad you did if you have problems.
Wildlife Safety Considerations
Many people come to Canada to see the wildlife. Whether it is Grizzly bears in the Rockies or Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba, the wildlife in Canada is majestic. It is also dangerous. While deer, moose, bears and other wildlife can look sweet, furry and approachable…don’t. They are wild animals and not appropriate for your selfie roll. Is Canada Safe? Yes, though trying to hug a bear (or a moose or an elk) is not.
- Hike in groups
- Give wildlife space (and not just bears….elk are just as dangerous!)
- Don’t feed the animals!
- Stay on marked trails
- Research what wildlife may be present where you are visiting.
Want more information? Check out Parks Canada’s top tips to respect wildlife.
Is Canada Safe? Info By City
I’ve included the Crime Index and Safety Index for each city as calculated by Numbeo. You can find their complete explanation of each indices to see what goes in to each calculation. While they actual number may vary from “fact”, I find it a great way to compare cities. The cities listed are the largest in Canada. If you see a city you are interested in that is not included, let me know in the comments!
Calgary, AB Safety
Calgary’s metro population for 2021 is 1,581,000 people. Calgary is overall a very safe place to visit. Safety statistics point to your personal and property safety in almost all cases though you should be on the lookout for petty robberies and thefts from cars. Calgary doesn’t have one particular area to avoid due to crime. Check out the Calgary Police Board for a deep dive on crime statistics.
Calgary Crime Index: 35.43
Calgary Safety Index: 64.57
Edmonton, AB Safety
Edmonton’s metro population for 2021 is 1,491,000 people. Edmonton is overall a very safe place to visit. Safety statistics point to your personal and property safety in almost all cases though you should be on the lookout for petty robberies and thefts from cars. Check out the Edmonton Police Board for a deep dive on crime statistics.
Edmonton Crime Index: 43.41
Edmonton Safety Index: 56.59
Vancouver, BC Safety
Vancouver’s metro population for 2021 is 2,606,000 people. Vancouver is overall a very safe place to visit. Safety statistics point to your personal and property safety in almost all cases though you may deal with those who are selling or using drugs. If you are looking to avoid crime as much as possible, consider avoiding the Downtown Eastside as it has the highest rate of crime in Vancouver. Check out the Vancouver Police Board for a deep dive on crime statistics.
Vancouver Crime Index : 38.21
Vancouver Safety Index: 62.8
Winnipeg, MB Safety
Winnipeg’s metro population for 2021 is 825,000 people. Winnipeg has one of the higher crime rates in Canadian cities. However, these crimes are often gang related and involve only members of those groups. However, walking alone at night and visiting areas you are unfamiliar with is not a good idea. Safety statistics suggest that you should take more care when visiting Winnipeg than other cities in Canada. Check out the Winnipeg Police Service Crime Map for more info on crimes and where they happen.
Winnipeg Crime Index: 57.88
Winnipeg Safety Index: 42.12
Fredericton, NB Safety
Fredericton’s metro population for 2021 is 101,760 people. While Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick, it is still quite a small city. You will not find the safety concerns here that you find in larger cities. Safety statistics suggest that you can visit Fredericton without much worry for your safety. Check out the Fredericton Police Force for their crime reports.
Fredericton Crime Index: 31.33
Fredericton Safety Index: 68.67
Toronto, ON Safety
Toronto is Canada’s largest city with a metro population for 2021 of 6.8 million people. Safety statistics suggest that even though Toronto is a huge city, you are quite safe when you visit. . Check out the Toronto Police Force for their crime reports.
Toronto Crime Index: 31.33
Toronto Safety Index: 68.67
Ottawa, ON Safety
Ottawa is Canada’s capital city with a metro population for 2021 of 1.15 million people. Safety statistics suggest that is a safe place to visit. . Check out the Ottawa Police Force for their crime statistics reports.
Ottawa Crime Index: 26.51
Ottawa Safety Index: 73.49
Montreal, QC Safety
Montreal’s metro population for 2021 of 1.7 million people. Safety statistics suggest that even though Montreal is a large city, you are quite safe when you visit. . Check out the Montreal Police Force for their crime reports.
Montreal Crime Index: 30.34
Montreal Safety Index: 69.66
Saskatoon, SK Safety
Saskatoon’s metro population for 2021 is 331,000 people. Saskatoon is overall a very safe place to visit. Safety statistics point to your personal and property safety in almost all cases though you may deal with those who are selling or using drugs. If you are looking to avoid crime as much as possible, consider avoiding the Downtown Eastside as it has the highest rate of crime in Vancouver. Check out the Saskatoon Police Board Crime Map for more info.
Saskatoon Crime Index : 48.89
Saskatoon Safety Index: 51.11
Canada is one of the safest countries to visit (especially in the Americas). Come and enjoy the beautiful scenery, majestic animals and kind people. You’ll be glad you did!