BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)
British Columbia’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) is a provincial public health care program that provides basic coverage to residents of BC. For a general overview, see the Medical Services Plan brochure or visit the MSP for BC Residents.
All residents of BC who stay over six months – including international students – are legally required to apply for MSP when they arrive and to maintain coverage throughout their period of residence in BC. For more information, see Are you Eligible? on the MSP website.
The International Student Centre at BCIT supports students by providing information about BC MSP, but students are responsible for managing their own MSP account and complying with MSP regulations. For any questions or information requests regarding your personal MSP account, you must contact the MSP office directly.
See below for answers to some frequently asked questions relating to MSP:
MSP coverage is not automatic. You must apply to become eligible for coverage.
Applying online makes the process quick and easy. Please note that you will be asked to upload a digital image of an immigration document such as a study permit.
It is also possible to apply in person at select Service BC locations or by mail.
You should apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC as an eligible resident. Applications may take a month or more to process.
For more information and to apply, see How to Apply on the MSP website.
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.
For example, if you arrive in BC with a study permit on August 5th, 2019; your waiting period would consist of the remainder of August, September and October. You would become eligible for MSP benefits starting on November 1st, 2019.
Please make sure to apply for MSP as early as possible since you would 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 private medical insurance to cover you from the time you arrive in BC until you are able to be covered by MSP.
Once your application has been submitted, you should receive a confirmation from MSP with a reference number. It is a good idea to take a screenshot or print this for your records. Once your application is processed, MSP will send a BC Services Card by mail.
Once you receive your BC Services Card, you must show it to BCIT according to the instructions below.
Once your BC MSP coverage is confirmed, you need to submit proof of it to the International Student Centre in the form of a BC Services Card or an official notification from BC MSP that indicates your coverage starting date.
To submit the proof, you must either:
- Create a digital copy (such as a .pdf, .jpg, or .png file) and send it as an email attachment it to email@example.com. Please include your BCIT student number in the email subject line and allow two business days for your record to be updated. Or,
- Bring the original document to the International Student Centre during drop-in hours in order for your student record to be updated immediately.
A BC Services Card is a government-issued ID that is required to use MSP benefits. You can use this card for identification throughout Canada and you should bring it with you if you need to visit a doctor or get any medical treatment once you are eligible for MSP benefits.
You should notify MSP as soon as possible 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 (such as receiving a study permit extension, a post-graduation work permit 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)
MSP coverage for international students typically expires on the same date as your study permit.
If you are planning to extend your study permit, you must notify MSP at least 21 days prior to your MSP expiration date to avoid a lapse in coverage. If your MSP coverage lapses, you will be required to purchase additional private medical insurance to cover the waiting period.