Mobile Phones

If you come to Canada from outside North America, it is likely that the mobile phone you brought with you will not work here—or using it will become prohibitively expensive. (North Americans tend to use the term “cell” rather than “mobile.”) If you have a GSM cell phone, you only require a SIM card, not a new phone.

There are two different systems for mobile phones in Canada - CDMA and GSM - and they operate on the 800, 850 and 1900 MHz frequency ranges. If you bring your own foreign phone to Canada, it might or might not work in the Canadian Network. The wireless/mobile phone service available in your area may depend on which companies have a license in the province you are in. In British Columbia (where Vancouver is), the largest provider is Telus Mobility (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec (CDMA))


Various cell phone companies offer a full range of services, features and rate plans. On most plans, you will be billed for both incoming and outgoing calls. Purchasing a cell phone will cost about $75 to $100 for the phone itself. In addition, you can purchase cell phone Pay-as-you-Go cards that cost about $25 for 60 minutes of talk time within Canada. Most companies also now offer month-to-month billing plans that do not require you to sign a contract.

The following are the most well-known cell phone service providers:

  • • Bell Mobility

  • • Fido

  • • Koodo Mobile

  • • Rogers

  • • Solo Mobile

  • • Telus Mobility

  • • Virgin Mobile


The following dialing rules apply:
  • • Local (most Canadian municipalities): 10-digit number, i.e. 3- digit area code followed by 7-digit phone number

  • • Long Distance (within North America): 1 + 3-digit area code + 7-digit phone number

  • • Long Distance (overseas): 011 + country code + city code + local number, e.g. 011 44 71 251 3472

  • Directory Assistance: 411 (for local phone numbers); 1 + area code + 555 1212 (for long distance numbers). (You will be charged 75 cents per call for this service.)

  • Operator: 0

Emergency: 911

Disclaimer - Everything changes over time and so can the information mentioned within. Always consult official sources regarding visa requirements and travel to another country. This is not an official source.