After you arrive at NIC, you will be sent information from our office with instruction on how to apply for MSP. MSP (or the Medical Services Plan of BC) is a provincial health care plan and it is required for all international students at NIC. It is your responsibility to ensure you apply for, pay for and keep your MSP current. The BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) will cover you for the remainder of your time studying at NIC. Students studying for more than three months on a study permit MUST enroll in BC MSP. There is approximately a three-month waiting period before your MSP coverage can begin, during which students are covered by the guard.me@NIC plan. Students should apply for MSP as soon as they arrive in Canada. There will be some overlap between coverage of Guard Me and MSP plans, this cannot be prevented.
The British Columbia (BC) government Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) is a mandatory public health insurance plan for everyone who lives in BC for six months or longer. The BC MSP is an important part of benefitting from the health care available to all BC residents.The plan covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services. If you are not enrolled, you will have to pay for medical expenses independently.
If you will live in BC for 6 months or longer, you are required by law to enrol in MSP and pay the plan’s health-care coverage fee.
You must apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC. You cannot apply for MSP before you arrive.
Apply for MSP
When to apply
As soon as you have a permanent address after arriving in Canada.
$75 per month for study permit holders
1-2 months; coverage begins after a waiting period (the remainder of the month of arrival plus 2 full calendar months)
Online (recommended) or by mail
International students: Copy of valid study permit or work permit such as Post-graduation or spouse/partner work permit
Implied Status and MSP:
If you are reapplying for MSP after being on implied status, include a copy of the IRCC submission confirmation (PDF) confirming that they received your application. To find your confirmation, log in to your MyCIC account.
Temporary BC residents (such as international students and workers) will typically be issued a non-photo BC Services Card. Carry your card with you as well as a digital or paper copy of your valid study permit or work permit (such as post-graduation or spouse/partner work permit)
You can also apply for a BC driver’s license and/or BC photo ID by submitting a separate application.
There is a three-month waiting period before MSP coverage begins: this is the balance of the month in which you arrive in British Columbia (BC), plus two full calendar months. For example, if you arrive in BC on August 25, you are eligible for MSP coverage starting November 1.
To cover the waiting period for MSP, most new international students are covered by guard.me temporary medical insurance for your first three months in BC. To avoid any lapse in coverage students will be re-enrolled in the guard.me plan at the end of the 90 days. However, students can quickly opt-out of the subsequent guard.me enrolment by signing off on the declaration and providing MSP dates. Failure to opt-out will result in additional guard.me charges on the student NIC account.
It is the student’s responsibility to enroll in MSP and opt-out of guard.me.
If you extend your study permit or get a Post-Graduation Work Permit, you must apply to extend your MSP, otherwise you will not be covered.
If your study permit expires before you receive your new study or work permit, it’s very important that you notify email@example.com in order to be re-enrolled in temporary guard.me to avoid any lapse in coverage.
As of January 1, 2020, all study permit holders are assessed a $75 health-care coverage fee per month. You must pay the British Columbia government directly.
If your family is with you in Canada, they will only be assessed the new health-care coverage fee if they also hold study permits. If they hold work permits or are here as visitors, they will not be assessed the fee.
The fees are subject to change. Check the MSP website for the most up-to-date information.
Changing from study permit to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)
Even if your MSP coverage has not expired, once you get your PGWP, contact MSP by phone to update your account and request to have your fees changed. As a work permit holder, you do not need to pay the health-care coverage fee.
When your application is processed, your MSP card, or BC Services Card, will be mailed to the address you provided in your application. Your BC Services Card will indicate your coverage period, which should match the expiration date of your study permit or work permit.
In most cases, you will not have to pay at the time you seek care for medically required services 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. The NISU/Green Shield Pan is designed to cover these costs.
See a full list of your medical and health care benefits provided by MSP.
In general, you should go to clinics for non-urgent medical care, and hospitals for emergencies. For emergencies and for an ambulance, call 911. To learn about accessing medical services in BC, see how to services and resources in BC or explore the BC Newcomers’ Guide, which is available in 8 languages.
MSP will send you an invoice in the mail each month. You need to start making payments after you receive 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 (for example you get married, divorced, have a common-law partner, or have children). See the Managing your MSP Account page.
Remember to keep your MSP valid by extending 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 MSP coverage will have 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 extend your immigration documents, make sure you extend your MSP coverage as soon as you get your new study or work permit.
Extend your MSP
If you applied for a new immigration document before the old one expired, such as a study or work permit, you remain in Canada and you won’t receive the new one before your old document expires, you will have “maintained status". Since your BC MSP will end on the expiry date of your current immigration document, you must take action to get health insurance coverage before your MSP expires.You are required to notify OGE when your MSP expires by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Without valid health insurance, you will need to pay for any health services which can total in the thousands. .
You might not be able to be covered under MSP until you provide proof of your new immigration document such as a copy of your study permit or post-graduation work permit, and are re-enrolled.
Before you get your new immigration document
You should call MSP to request continuous coverage while you are on maintained status. This is particularly important if you have a pre-existing condition which may not be covered by private health insurance, such as pregnancy.
If MSP approves continuous coverage, ask them to confirm what your coverage start date will be.
You will need to submit an MSP extension application and provide the following instead of a copy of your study or work permit:
- A letter written by yourself explaining your status and your request for continuing coverage, such as, “I would like to request continuous coverage of BC MSP as I applied to extend my immigration documents before my BC MSP and immigration status expired and was advised by a Health Insurance BC agent that I am eligible for coverage during maintained status”, and
- A copy of the IRCC submission confirmation (PDF) confirming that they received your application. To find your confirmation, log in to your IRCC online account.
If MSP is not able to provide continuous coverage, purchase private temporary health insurance, email ISA@nic.bc.ca so that we can re-enroll you in the guard.me plan and ensure you have temporary coverage until you have confirmation you are covered under MSP again.
After you get your new immigration document
Once you get your new immigration document, you will need to extend or reapply for MSP.
If you were approved for continuous coverage, apply to MSP extension application with a copy of your new study or work permit.
If you were not approved for continuous coverage, depending on the length of the gap in MSP coverage, you will either be able to get an extension of your MSP, or you will need to reapply for MSP. You must contact MSP by phone to confirm your eligibility as it will depend on your individual circumstances.
If you will need to reapply for MSP and serve the 3-month MSP waiting period again, you must email email@example.com to get re-enrolled in guard.me temporary private insurance, to cover you during the 3-month waiting period.
Maintaining your MSP eligibility
If you’re leaving British Columbia (BC) temporarily due to a co-op placement or travel plans, you will continue being billed for your health-care coverage fee.
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 may need to re-apply when you return to the province and go through the approximately 3-month waiting period again. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to enroll in temporary guard.me insurance if you have left BC for more than 6 months and are returning to study at NIC again.
For example, if you live outside of BC between May and December in 2021, you may need to reapply for your health insurance. However, if you are away from BC between September 2021 and April 2022, you remain eligible for MSP because you are only absent from the province for 4 months in each calendar year.
For more information, visit the Leaving BC Temporarily website.
Before leaving BC
Make sure you understand MSP’s residency requirements and call MSP to discuss how your coverage could be impacted by travel plans.
If you will be in another Canadian province or territory
You might be able to continue to use MSP coverage for 3 months outside of BC, which could be used to cover your waiting period in another province or territory. To confirm your eligibility for coverage outside of BC and options to cancel your MSP, contact MSP by phone.
Different provinces and territories in Canada have their own health insurance plans and they do not all provide coverage for international students. Check with the province or territory’s health insurance plan if you are eligible to join and how to apply.
If your family members plan to reside in BC for six months or more, they may also be eligible for MSP.
If your family members arrive in BC with you within the same calendar month, you can all apply for MSP at the same time.
If your family members arrive in BC at a later date (outside of the same calendar month), use the MSP Account Change form to add them to your existing MSP.
Remember to include photocopies of every family members’ Canadian status document (such as a study permit, visitor record, or work permit) valid for six months or more in the application. Some visitors will only have an entry stamp in their passports; use this as their status document.
Also remember that your family members will need to go through the three-month waiting period and you can purchase a temporary health insurance with guard.me for that period. For more information please refer to the guard.me dependent plan.
If your child is born in BC, you can add them to your MSP.
See adding or removing dependents to learn more.