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 MSP

What is it?

Medical Services Plan (MSP) is British Columbia’s (BC) provincial health insurance plan, mandatory for everyone who lives in the province for six months or longer. IF you will reside in BC for six months or longer, you should apply for MSP immediately after you arrive. 

Why do I need it?

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. MSP does not cover dental care, prescription drugs, routine vision care (such as eye examinations or corrective lenses), or travel. For a full list of your medical and health care benefits visit the MSP website.

When do I need it?

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 25th, you will be eligible for MSP on November 1.

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

How much does it cost?

Effective January 1, 2018:  MSP costs $37.50 per month for one person, $75.00 per month for a family of two adults. Please note, the price is subject to change. Check the MSP website for the most up to date prices. 

What does it cover?

MSP covers: MSP does not cover:
  • Basic medical care within Canada
  • Most doctor visits
  • Most hospital visits
  • Dental care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Eye examinations or corrective lenses
  • Travel

How to apply for MSP


When to apply: Immediately after arriving in British Columbia
Cost: You will be charged monthly premiums once coverage begins. The application is free.
Processing time: About 4 weeks; coverage begins after a waiting period (the balance of the month of arrival plus 2 months)

Online: For the online application, please see:

Supporting  documents (additional documents may be needed):

International students: Copy of valid study permit OR work permit (eg. Post graduation or spouse/partner work permit).
Canadian students: Copy of proof of citizenship (e.g. Canadian passport or citizenship certificate)

Family members: Copy of vistor record or spouse/partner work permit




Enrol your family in MSP

If your family members plan to reside in BC for more than 6 months, 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 second page of the form. If your family members arrive in BC in a later month, you can use the MSP Account Change form to add them to your existing MSP.

Remember to include photocopies of every family members’ Canadian status document (e.g., a study permit, visitor record, or work permit) valid for more than 6 months 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 consider purchasing 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.

Once your coverage begins

  • MSP will send you an invoice in the mail every month. 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 “Account Change” form.
  • 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).

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.

Suspend your MSP coverage

If you’re leaving BC for a few months due to co-op placement or travel plans, you will continue being billed for your MSP payments.

You have two options:

Option 1

Put a hold on (“suspend”) your MSP account temporarily while you are traveling if you will be gone for more than 6 months

  • Call MSP and ask to talk to an Enrolment Specialist to temporarily suspend your account without paying  while you travel. Tell MSP your departure and return date. During the temporary hold you will not be covered and you will not be charged.
  • Read this page carefully to confirm your eligibility
  • After returning to BC, you must call to reactivate your MSP account

Option 2

Use the travel insurance included in your UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan by paying for MSP while you are traveling

  • Although MSP provides only limited coverage when you travel internationally, your UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan does provide coverage. To use the travel insurance, you must also have basic insurance such as MSP or an equivalent.
  • The UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan does not cover travel to your home country.

Maintain your eligibility for MSP

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 will 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 2014 you may need to reapply for your health insurance. However, if you are away from BC September 2014 and April 2015, you remain eligible for MSP because you are only absent from the province for 4 months in each calendar year.

How having implied status impacts your MSP coverage

If you have implied status, you may remain eligible for MSP if you provide proof of your implied status (for example, an application payment receipt or a CIC receipt/letter confirming the submission of an application for extension) and a written request for an extension (a letter explaining your status and your request). Be sure to send these documents to MSP as soon as you realize you will be in implied status to give them advance notice.

If approved, MSP will extend your coverage for 3 to 6 months beyond the original cancellation date. As soon as you get your new permit, submit a copy of your permit and another written request for an extension to MSP immediately.

Last reviewed shim9/19/2018 4:04:48 PM

Carry your BC Services Card with you at all times

Apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC

If you require temporary basic health insurance and are not eligible for iMED, consider enroling in Global Campus Health Plan.