The short texts below offer the most useful information for planning your trip to Québec. Feel free to contact us for any questions you may have about your upcoming trip.
Customs and immigration
To enter Canada, United States nationals must carry proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, as well as a piece of photo ID (a passport is still the ideal document, but isn’t mandatory).
Personal effects not subject to any specific restrictions are tax exempt but must be declared to Canadian customs. Visitors who are at least 18 years of age may bring into Québec 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes and 200 g of tobacco, as well as 1.14 litres of liquor or 1.5 litres wine or twenty-four 355-ml cans or bottles of beer. There are restrictions on imports of food products, plants and firearms, so you are advised to contact the Canada Border Services Agency prior to your departure.
Generally speaking, pets (cats and dogs) from rabies-free countries may be admitted into Canada if they have a rabies vaccination certificate written in French or English and issued by a veterinary official from the country of origin. Cats and dogs entering Canada from countries other than the United States are subject to inspection fees. Pets must be accompanied by their owners at all times. The full regulations are available on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website.
If you would like to live in Québec, contact the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion du Québec for information.
Currency and exchange
The legal tender in Québec is the Canadian dollar (CAD), which is divided into 100 cents. Bank notes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars, and coins in denominations of 5, 10 and 25 cents as well as of 1 and 2 dollars.
The leading credit cards—Visa, MasterCard and American Express—are widely accepted. Traveller’s cheques are generally accepted in large hotels, some restaurants and major stores; otherwise, they must be cashed at a currency exchange office or bank.
There are numerous exchange offices in Québec’s main urban centres. Airports also offer exchange services. Some businesses accept American money, but tend to offer a less competitive rate than the exchange offices.
Banks are generally open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Most automatic bank machines (linked to the Cirrus, PLUS System or Interac networks) will let you withdraw cash at any time, seven days a week.
Exchange rates: use the Bank of Canada’s currency converter.
Québec’s electric current is 110 volts/60 cycles, as it is throughout North America. Since the outlets cannot accommodate European plugs, you’d best bring or buy an adaptor.
Stores, shopping malls and most businesses are generally open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Some establishments (e.g. pharmacies and grocery stores) open earlier in the day and close later in the evening.
Statutory holidays and school breaks
In Québec, most businesses, government offices, banks and stores are closed on the following days:
New Year’s Day (January 1)
Journée nationale des patriotes (patriots’ day, the second-to-last Monday in May)
Québec’s national holiday (June 24)
Canada Day (July 1)
Labour Day (first Monday in September)
Thanksgiving (second Monday in October)
Christmas (December 25)
Many tourist sites remain open on statutory holidays. However, it’s always best to check with the site in question before setting out.
College and university students enjoy a weeklong break in November and another one in March, while elementary and high school students only get a break in March. (The dates of the break may vary between education levels and regions.)
In addition, nearly one-quarter of Québec’s workers go on holiday during the last two weeks of July, a period traditionally known as the “construction holiday.” Certain tourist sites are much busier during these periods, so keep this in mind when planning your vacation.
Visitors from abroad must cover their own medical expenses. Accordingly, it is vital that you take out travel medical insurance before you leave. Travellers wishing to bring along their own medication are responsible for finding out about requirements from Health Canada. Note that pharmacies are only authorized to fill prescriptions written by a member of the Collège des médecins du Québec (Québec’s professional corporation of physicians). In the event of a medical emergency, dial 911 from any telephone.
Alcohol and bars
You must be aged at least 18 to enter bars, pubs and nightclubs as well as to purchase or consume alcohol (be prepared to produce ID if asked). Wines and spirits are sold through the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), the provincial liquor board. Beer is available at grocery and convenience stores, which also stock a limited selection of wines.
Taxes and tipping
Two taxes—the federal goods and services tax (GST) and the Québec sales tax (QST)—are added to the selling price of most goods and services. Several tourist regions also charge a specific tax on accommodations. The amount is $2 or $3 a night, or 3% or 3.5% of the price of the room per night. The tax on lodging is non-refundable, since it goes entirely toward regional tourism development. GST and QST are calculated on top of this tax, which does not apply to campsites.
In Québec, tipping is de rigueur in restaurants, bars and taxis. The amount, which is not included in the bill, generally represents 10% to 15% of the total bill before taxes. For quick tip calculations, Québecers normally add up both taxes (GST and QST), the sum of which equals approximately 15%. Tipping bellhops or porters is at your discretion (generally, $1 per bag carried).
Telephone and postal services
A local call made from a public telephone costs 50 cents. You can pay using coins or a prepaid phone card (note that you’ll pay more if you use your credit card). For long distance calls, prepaid cards typically offer the best bargain.
Foreign cell phones may work in Québec, depending on the technology used and the service offered by your provider. Please speak to your service provider to find out if you will be able to use your phone in Québec.
Visitors who plan on spending extended periods in Québec without a fixed address can have their mail sent care of General Delivery. The French and international term for this is poste restante. To pick up your mail, you must go to the main post office of the city indicated in the mailing address. Montréal and Québec City each have a designated General Delivery counter.