Overview of MSP
British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) is the provincial public health care program that provides basic coverage to residents of BC and generally covers the cost of required medical services. Enrolling in MSP is one of the most important things for new residents of BC to do upon arrival. You should submit proof to BCIT once you have enrolled in MSP in order to satisfy BCIT’s medical insurance requirement.
Review the content on this page and visit MSP for BC Residents for a general overview. Note that MSP is not administered by BCIT but rather by Health Insurance BC, who you may contact if you have specific questions about it.
Eligibility for MSP
All residents of BC who stay over six months – including study permit holders – are both eligible and legally required to enrol in MSP upon arrival and to maintain coverage throughout your period of residence in BC. For details, see Are you Eligible?
Generally speaking, all international students studying at BCIT are eligible and must enrol in MSP, except for:
- Study Abroad and Exchange students coming to study at BCIT for only one term
- students completing their studies entirely online from outside of Canada.
Dependent family members of study permit holders are are also eligible and may be included on the same MSP application.
How to apply for MSP
When you arrive in BC as a new resident, you must apply for MSP. The online application only takes a few minutes. However, note that you will have to upload a digital image of an immigration document such as a study permit in order to complete the application. We suggest to apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC and establish residency. You may include dependent family members in your application.
Once you submit your online application for MSP, you should immediately see an application confirmation with a reference number. You should take a screenshot of this confirmation for your records, and submit it to BCIT in order to satisfy the medical insurance requirement.
Applications typically take about one month to process. Once yours is completed, you can expect to receive some important mail from Health Insurance BC including a confirmation letter, monthly invoices, and your BC Services Card. It is critically important that you provide the correct mailing address in your application and that you notify Health Insurance BC if you move to a different address.
What is a BC Services Card?
A BC Services Card is a government-issued ID with your name and Personal Health Number that is generally required to use MSP benefits. Once your MSP application has been processed, your BC Services card will be mailed to you. This card will not have your photo on it, but it is possible to later request one with your photo should you wish to do so. Visit Get a BC Services Card for instructions.
You can use your BC Services Card for identification purposes throughout Canada and you should bring it with you if you need to visit a doctor or get any medical treatment. If you have a non-photo BC Services Card you may also need to show additional photo identification, such as a BCIT ID card or identification from your home country.
MSP coverage wait period
Be aware that there is a coverage wait period before new (and returning) residents are eligible to use MSP benefits. The wait period consists of the balance of the month in which residence in British Columbia is established, plus two additional calendar months. Make sure to apply for MSP as early as possible upon arrival to BC since you may NOT be eligible for MSP benefits while your application is in process, even if your waiting period is complete.
It is very important that you have temporary basic medical insurance to cover you from the time you arrive in BC until you are able to be covered by MSP.
BC residents who leave the province for more than 6 months in a calendar year may need to complete another coverage wait period upon return to BC. For more information, see Leaving BC Temporarily.
MSP coverage wait period waived for individuals arriving from Ukraine
The Government of BC has announced that: “Displaced Ukrainians arriving in B.C. with visas issued under the federal Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) will now have access to date-of-arrival Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage.”
Priyanka's example timeline for MSP
Priyanka arrives in BC with a study permit on August 7, at which time she becomes a resident of BC. Her MSP coverage wait period is the remainder of August plus all of September and October. She applies for MSP during her first week in BC and receives a confirmation letter 6 weeks later informing her that she will be eligible for MSP benefits starting on November 1 and that her BC Services Card will be mailed to her soon. She submits proof of MSP enrolment to BCIT as required.
Priyanka has temporary private medical insurance through Guard.me for the months of August, September, and October. This is important in case she were to need any medical treatment during that time and also to satisfy BCIT’s medical insurance requirement.
Priyanka in this case is a fictional example, but this is a very typical MSP timeline for new arrivals to BC.
Submitting proof of MSP enrolment to BCIT
Send an email to email@example.com with your name, student number, and proof of having enrolled in MSP, such as one of the following:
- a screenshot of your online application confirmation with reference number
- a clear photo of your valid BC Services Card
- a clear photo of an official letter from Health Insurance BC that shows your name and confirms your MSP coverage
Note that international students are required to have medical insurance coverage throughout your studies at BCIT. Failure to provide proof of MSP enrolment could result in you being blocked from registering for BCIT courses and also ineligible for any International Letter of Verification.
MSP monthly fee for international students
The MSP Health fee for international students of all ages (and dependent family members) is $75 per month. Once you are enrolled, Health Insurance BC will send invoices to you by mail and you will be responsible for submitting payment. See Question and Answers: Health fee for international students [PDF] for more information.
If you graduate from BCIT or stop studying in BC completely, you should provide notification to Health Insurance BC so that they can stop billing you the monthly fee for international students. To do this, follow the next steps after completing studies.
Renewing your MSP coverage
This content is aimed at students extending their study permit. See Next steps after completing studies for information pertaining to students who are graduating and applying for a PGWP.
MSP coverage typically expires on the same day as your study permit. You may renew your MSP coverage by uploading your new study permit to update your status in Canada in your MSP account.
Temporary coverage through maintained status
If you will have maintained status while waiting for your study permit extension application to be processed, you may be able to request temporary MSP coverage. In order to do so, you will need to provide Health Insurance BC with:
- the official IRCC receipt from your study permit extension application (dated prior to your previous study permit expiry date to demonstrate your maintained status), and
- your new study permit once you receive it so that your MSP can be formally extended and you can be issued a new BC Services Card.
For more details and instructions, visit both of the following pages:
Managing your MSP account
You are responsible for managing your account and keeping all of you personal information up to date.
You need notify Health Insurance BC if:
- Your basic personal information or mailing address needs to be updated or corrected
- You need to add or remove a spouse or children
- Your status in Canada changes (for example, if you receive a study permit extension, post-graduation work permit, visitor record, or permanent resident status)
- You are planning to leave BC permanently (or temporarily if you will be absent from BC for six months or more during a calendar year)
You may contact Health Insurance BC directly if necessary.
Next steps after completing studies
If you graduate from BCIT and plan to stay in BC with a new immigration status (such as applying for a PGWP)
If you will have maintained status while waiting for your post-graduation work permit application to be processed, you may be able to request temporary MSP coverage.
In order to do so, you will need to provide Health Insurance BC with:
- the receipt of your IRCC application submission for your new permit dated prior to your study permit expiry date (to demonstrate your maintained status),
- a copy of your International Confirmation of Graduation letter to demonstrate that you are no longer enrolled as an international student (so that you will no longer be billed the $75-per-month international health fee for MSP), and
- a copy of your PGWP (or other immigration status document) once you receive it so that your MSP can be formally extended and you can be issued a new BC Services Card.
For more details and instructions, visit both of the following pages:
Note that unlike for study permit holders, individuals holding a valid PGWP are not billed any monthly fee for MSP.
If you don’t plan to stay in the province
You should notify Health Insurance BC that you plan to leave BC permanently so that they can terminate your account and stop billing you.
If you withdraw from your program at BCIT without graduating but plan to stay in BC with a new immigration status (such as a visitor record)
You may request an International Confirmation of Enrolment letter to confirm that you are no longer enrolled at BCIT which you may provide to Health Insurance BC to request that they stop billing you. In your letter request, make sure to mention in the Additional notes that you are no longer enrolled at BCIT and that you need this regarding your MSP account.