Medical Services and Insurance

As an exchange or study abroad student, you must have medical insurance for the entire duration of your studies at SFU. If family members are accompanying you, they should also have adequate medical insurance during their stay in Canada. The Canadian health system provides a high standard of health care, but care is very expensive if you are not insured. Without insurance, you could pay thousands of dollars per day for a hospital stay or even be refused certain services. In Canada, there are generally two types of insurance: primary and secondary.

Primary medical insurance

Covers medically-required services, such as visits to doctors, hospital stays and diagnostic medical testing. 

International exchange or study abroad students: you will be automatically enrolled in a mandatory 4 month primary medical insurance plan through guard.me@SFU. Depending on how long you are studying at SFU, you may be applying for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) as well. See the Medical Insurance website to see how this information applies to you.

Domestic (inter-provincial) exchange students: within Canada (including students who are international students at their home institutions), you are expected to maintain primary medical insurance in your home province. See the Medical Insurance website for full details.

Secondary medical insurance 

Generally covers services such as vision care, prescription drugs, dental care, and more.

Exchange students (paying tuition to home institution): you will not receive a secondary medical insurance plan through SFU. You may wish to purchase coverage through a private insurance agent. The guard.me@SFU plan includes some limited secondary benefits, please see the detailed plan information on our Medical Insurance website

Study Abroad students (paying tuition to SFU): you will receive secondary medical insurance through the SFSS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan. Please see our Medical Insurance website for more information.

For more information on medical insurance, including how to apply or opt out, see the Medical Insurance website. You can also review the handouts on our Resources and Instructional Handouts page. If you have any questions, please contact an International Student Advisor at intl_advising@sfu.ca.

Canadian medical system

You may find that the medical system in Canada is different from what you are used to back home.  It's important that you develop an understanding of how the system works in Canada before you need to use it, to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible if you become ill or injured.  In this section, you'll find tips to help you get comfortable with Canadian health care.

In the event of a medical emergency:

Call 911 or go immediately to the nearest hospital’s emergency room. Emergency calls are free from any phone.

If you are on campus at SFU:

  • 778.782.4500 (Burnaby)
  • 778.782.7511 (Surrey)
  • 778.782.5252 (Vancouver)

Access Medical Services at SFU