International AIDS Society

Practical information


Vancouver enjoys a reputation as one of the world's most accessible places in which to visit. Thanks to its progressive transportation systems, innovative housing and recreational opportunities, people of all ages with visual, hearing or mobility impairments can fully enjoy business and leisure time in Vancouver.



Regular banking hours in Canada are 09:30 to 16:30, Monday to Friday, with extended hours including weekends at some locations. Most major credit cards are accepted, but visitors are always advised to check with the vendor before a purchase is made. Cash machines with 24 hour access are available in many convenient locations throughout Greater Vancouver.

Business Hours

Greater Vancouver, like all major cities, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The main workdays are Monday to Friday, from roughly 08.00 to 18.00 - but hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 09:30 to 18.00 each day - except Thursday and Friday, when they are open until 9pm. A number of large retail stores, nearly every hotel and motel, and several restaurants, remain open around the clock.

Climate and Clothing

Warmed by Pacific Ocean currents and protected by a range of mountains, Vancouver enjoys mild temperatures year-round. Summers are usually warm and comfortable, but rarely scorching. June to August daytime temperatures linger just above 20º Celsius (70º Fahrenheit). Evenings, especially in the surrounding mountains, can be cool, so it's best to pack a light jacket and sweater.



Canada’s national currency is the Canadian dollar which comes in the following denominations:
  • Notes are in denominations of $1000, $100, $50, $20, $10, $5
  • Coins are in denominations of $2, $1, $0.50, $0.25, $0.10, $0.05, $0.01
Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving.


Outlets and voltage (110 volts) are the same as in the United States. Small appliances such as hair dryers, irons, razors, etc. can be used in Canada. For those from other countries, adapters are required for electrical appliances. The frequency of electrical current in Canada is 60 Hz.

Emergency number

The emergency number for Ambulance, Fire or Police is 911.

Health Services

Vancouver is home to a number of state-of-the-art medical clinics that can see visitors on an urgent basis, and refer on to appropriate specialties when necessary.




Canada has two official languages - English and French. English is the predominant language in British Columbia.

Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because of this, the city is considered multilingual on an unofficial level.

Metric measures

Canada follows the International Metric System. Temperatures, rainfall measures, distance, weights, velocity are expressed in metric units. Distance is measured in kilometres.

National and International Calls

There are three telephone area codes for the province of British Columbia (BC). Dialing in BC required 10-digit phone numbers, so ensure you include the correct area code in front of the local number you are dialing (604, 778 or 250).

If you're calling from within Canada or the United States, direct dialing is: 1.areacode.phone.number (e.g. 1.604.555.1212)

If you're calling from outside North America, you can dial directly to BC numbers. Simply use the international access code 00 if you're calling from most countries in Europe and 0011 if you're calling from Australia. Then dial the country code 1, the area code and the number.

Security and Safety

Vancouver is generally a very safe place to visit, but keeping a smart lookout while venturing around the city is still key. Downtown is very busy for most hours of the day and therefore is fairly safe, particularly the West End. Personal safety is extremely high in Vancouver, but if you leave any items unattended, you risk it being stolen. It is recommended that you carry a copy of your passport at all times, and preferably, travel with another person. Whether alone or accompanied, do not walk in deserted areas, especially after dark. Ask locals or the reception at your hotel to advise you on areas that should be avoided.

Emergency telephone number: 911 (police, fire or medical)

Smoking Laws

Each municipality in Metro Vancouver has different rules for smoking in public places such as public buildings, restaurants and pubs. Within the City of Vancouver, smoking is not permitted by law in all indoor public spaces, including public transit, shopping malls, restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and casinos. Smoking is not permitted within six metres of an entryway, openable window or air intake of a building.

Time Zone

Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone. Daylight savings time is in effect from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver's time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting www.TimeAndDate.com.


Effective April 1, 2013, most purchases in British Columbia will be subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with the exception of liquor (10% GST)


Gratuities are seldom included in Canadian restaurants. It is customary to tip approximately 15% on the total bill before tax, 20% for exceptional service.