Medical Insurance for International Students

Overview of the Different Types of Medical Insurance

Private Temporary Medical Insurance

Government of B.C. Medical Insurance - Medical Services Plan (MSP)

Extended Health Insurance - SUVCC Health and Dental Plan


Overview of the Different Types of Medical Insurance

International students must be aware of the different types of medical insurance and their coverage while studying in Canada. Healthcare costs in Canada can be pricy, and VCC requires all students to enrol in the Medical Services Plan (MSP) of British Columbia.

International students are only able to enrol in MSP after they arrive in Canada and have the ability to provide a copy of their status in Canada (copy of their study permit) and proof of a residential address. The MSP has a 3-month waiting period for issuance. To cover the MSP waiting period, international students must obtain private medical insurance for the first three months of their arrival in Canada. At VCC, we enrol new international students in the More Enhanced health insurance plan. They are both parts of the basic medical insurance, covering most hospital-required services while you live in BC.

Besides the two medical insurances mentioned above, as an international student in a full-time program at VCC, you may be eligible (and charged) for the Student Union at VCC’s (SUVCC) Health and Dental Plan. The SUVCC Health and Dental Plan is an additional health insurance. Coverage includes a percentage of dental services, extended health services such as massage, physiotherapy and acupuncture, and prescription medicines and eyeglasses (vision care).


Private Temporary Medical Insurance

During your first three months in B.C., you will be required to have private medical insurance to cover hospital and medical services in case of a medical emergency while you are waiting to be enrolled in the BC Medical Services Plan. Private medical insurance covers emergency medical care (ambulance, hospital, doctor, prescription medicine, etc.) for an unexpected sickness or injury, as well as emergency dental services.

Guard Me temporary medical insurance for VCC students

Effective Fall 2023 (August 2023 start dates onward), as a new international student studying at Vancouver Community College (VCC), you will be enrolled in the More Enhanced health insurance plan for 3 months. This plan is mandatory for all new international students studying in Canada and is a condition of studying at VCC. The cost of More Enhanced health insurance plan is $148.50 and will be collected as part of your tuition deposit payment toward your first-term registration.

Opt Out

The only option to opt out from the plan is if you have BC MSP coverage. If your opt-out request submitted before the deadline is processed successfully and approved, the plan fee of $148.50 will be credited to your VCC account.

Coverage Periods and Opt-Out Deadlines

The coverage periods and opt-out deadlines vary depending on your program start date. For Example:

  • Program start date: September 9
  • Guard.Me coverage: August 15 to November 14
  • Opt-Out Deadline: September 13
Program Start Date Range Guard.Me Coverage Period Opt-Out Deadline
December 15, 2023 - January 14, 2024 December 15, 2023 - March 13, 2024 January 13, 2024
January 15, 2024 - February 14, 2024 January 15, 2024 - April 13, 2024 February 13, 2024
February 15, 2024 - March 14, 2024 February 15, 2024 - May 14, 2024 March 15, 2024
March 15, 2024 - April 14, 2024 March 15, 2024 - June 12, 2024 April 13, 2024
April 15, 2024 - May 14, 2024 April 15, 2024 - July 13, 2024 May 14, 2024
May 15, 2024 - June 14, 2024 May 15, 2024 - August 12, 2024 June 13, 2024
June 15, 2024 - July 14, 2024 June 15, 2024 - September 12, 2024 July 14, 2024
July 15, 2024 - August 14, 2024 July 15, 2024 - October 12, 2024 August 13, 2024
August 15, 2024 - September 14, 2024 August 15, 2024 - November 12, 2024 September 13, 2024
September 15, 2024 - October 14, 2024 September 15, 2024 - December 13, 2024 October 13, 2024
October 15, 2024 - November 14, 2024 October 15, 2024 - January 12, 2025 November 13, 2024
November 15, 2024 - December 14, 2024 November 15, 2024 - February 12, 2025 December 13, 2024
December 15, 2024 - January 14, 2025 December 15, 2024 - March 14, 2025 January 13, 2025


You will receive an email a few days before your coverage period begins. If you do not receive an email by the coverage start dates stated above, email with your name, program and student ID so we can check for you.

For more information such as coverage, opting out, adding a dependent, purchasing additional coverage for early arrival, or submitting a claim, please visit Guard Me temporary medical insurance for VCC students.

If your program is less than 6 months, you may not be eligible to apply for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP). You might want to extend your private medical insurance through Guard.Me. 


Government of B.C. Medical Insurance - Medical Services Plan (MSP)

The Medical Services Plan (MSP) is the Government of British Columbia's health insurance plan. The MSP pays for medically required services, like doctor’s appointments, surgeries, some medical exams, and most hospital-related services in Canada.

Under the Medicare Protection Act, enrolment with the MSP is mandatory for all eligible residents of British Columbia (people living in the province) and their dependents. That includes international students living in B.C., who hold a valid study permit for at least six months, and their dependents (spouse and children). Therefore, international students must apply for MSP as soon as they arrive In British Columbia.


How to apply for MSP

International students and their dependents living in British Columbia for six (6) months or longer are required under the Medicare Protection Act to apply for MSP. Applying for MSP is the student’s responsibility, and they must submit the MSP application as soon as they arrive in BC.

Required documents to submit an MSP application:

  • Applicant’s full name, date of birth, and gender information.
  • Copy of a valid study permit (main applicant).
  • Copy of a valid open work permit, study permit or visitor permit (dependents, accompanying spouse or child) – if applicable.
  • Marriage certificate or divorce decree – if applicable.
  • Residential and mailing address in British Columbia.
  • Phone number – if available.

We encourage all international students to submit an online application. You may also apply in person or by mail as an alternative.


Coverage waiting period

The MSP has a coverage waiting period of 3 months. MSP coverage is backdated to the first day of the month you arrive in Canada, plus two additional months for a total of three months of coverage. To address this waiting period, VCC enrols new international students in the mandatory private medical insurance plan from

Example of MSP coverage for a student arriving in the Fall term:

  • A student arrives in BC on August 20
  • MSP backdated August 1 + additional two months (3-month waiting period)
  • MSP coverage starting November 1

Your MSP coverage and expiry date will match your status in Canada (study permit) validity. Every time you extend your study permit or apply for a different status in Canada (i.e., post-graduation work permit), you will need to update your MSP account.


MSP Monthly Fee and Account Update

The MSP costs $75.00 per month for study permit holders (subject to change); however, it is free of charge for the work permit and visitor permit holders. The monthly fee must be paid to the Government of B.C., and the monthly invoice will be issued by Revenue Services of B.C. You may visit Paying Your MSP Health Fee to learn more.

If you change your home address, change your name, add/remove dependents or leave Canada permanently, you need to inform MSP.

If you are an international student in maintained status (have applied to extend or change your immigration status in Canada), you may have temporary MSP coverage until a decision is made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on your application. To learn more, please visit Medical Services Plan coverage continues for people with maintained status.

Please visit the Health Fee for International Students Q&A for more information.


How to use the MSP

The MSP covers most medically required services, like doctor’s appointments, surgeries, some medical exams, and most hospital-related services in Canada. Please note that MSP doesn’t cover dental care, eye examinations for vision care, corrective lenses, prescription drugs, or travel. To address this extra coverage, SUVCC offers the Health and Dental Plan.

To use your MSP, you should show your BC Services Card (government-issued ID with your name and Personal Health Number) whenever seeking medical services at walk-in clinics or hospitals. It is recommended that people seek clinics for minor illnesses or injuries and hospitals for emergency medical care. To request help or an ambulance, call 911.


Contacting MSP

Health Insurance BC (HIBC): For MSP enrolment, cancelling coverage and other services.

Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 am Pacific Standard Time.

  • Lower Mainland: (604) 683-7151
  • Elsewhere in B.C.: 1 (800) 663-7100 (toll-free)
  • Email:


Revenue Services of British Columbia (RSBC): For billing, payments and refund information.

Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 am Pacific Standard Time.


Additional Resources

  • In Case of an Emergency: Call 911. Life-threatening situations (police, fire, or ambulance).
  • HealthLink BC: Call 811 (free of charge) for provincial health information and advice. Registered nurses at HealthLink BC are available to residents of British Columbia any time of the day or night, every day of the year (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Translation services are available in different languages.
  • Here2Talk: Available 24/7 via an app, phone, and web. Here2Talk connects students with mental health support. All BC post-secondary institution students have access to free, confidential counselling and community referral services.
  • Crisis Centre BC: Call 604-872-3311. The Crisis Centre of BC is a leader in crisis intervention and suicide prevention. As a non-profit organization, they are committed to providing help and hope to individuals, organizations, and communities.
  • Medimap: For walk-in clinics nearby you.
  • Regional health authorities around Metro Vancouver:
  • Vancouver Coastal Health (Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Richmond, and more)
  • Fraser Health (Burnaby, New Westminster, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, and more)


Extended Health Insurance - SUVCC Health and Dental Plan

The Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College (SUVCC) offers a comprehensive Health and Dental plan (GreenShield) for full-time students. MSP coverage does not include extended health and dental benefits. All full-time academic students in the fall and winter terms are automatically enrolled in the SUVCC Health and Dental plan. VCC assists SUVCC in assessing and collecting these fees.

The SUVCC Health and Dental plan is mandatory unless students have equivalent insurance coverage. Students may opt-out of SUVCC Health and Dental before completing their first 30 days of their program. Please note that proof of equal insurance is required.

The Students’ Union health and dental plan contain a vast range of benefits that helps students with medical and other services. Coverage includes a percentage of dental services, routine eye examinations, eyeglasses, prescription drugs, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, services of counsellors or psychologists and more. The plan costs less than $23 per month and provides access to thousands of dollars in benefits.

Students can access their digital ID cards by downloading the GSC Everywhere app.

You can also add dependents to the SUVCC Health and Dental plan.

Note: The SUVCC Health and Dental plan does not cover BC Medical Service Plan premiums.

Please contact SUVCC at if you have any questions.