Travel Assistance Program (TAP BC)
The Travel Assistance Program (TAP) helps alleviate some of the transportation costs for eligible B.C. residents who must travel within the province for non-emergency medical specialist services not available in their own community.
TAP is a corporate partnership between the Ministry of Health and private transportation carriers.
The program is coordinated by the Ministry of Health and the transportation partners who agree to waive or discount their regular fees.
Eligible Medical Specialist Services Include:
- Non-emergency medical specialist services available at the closest location outside the patient's community; and
- Diagnostic procedures, laboratory procedures, diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine procedures, BC Cancer Agency, Transplant Units, HIV/AIDS treatment at St. Paul's Hospital, specialty clinics at BC Children's Hospital and other tertiary care hospital services.
The Following Services are not Eligible for TAP:
- Patient transfer from one facility to another;
- GP to GP referrals;
- Supplementary benefit practitioner services (e.g., acupuncturist, optometry, physical therapy, massage therapy, podiatry, non-hospital based dentistry, naturopathy, and chiropractic services); and
- Non-insured services (e.g., cosmetic surgery, experimental procedures, clinical drug trials, preventative medicine).
Health care services provided by practitioners other than medical physicians (e.g. acupuncturist services, psychology, optometry, physiotherapy, massage therapy, podiatry, non-hospital based dentistry, naturopathy and chiropractic) and services not insured by MSP (e.g. experimental procedures, drug trials or cosmetic surgery) are not eligible for TAP.
TAP does not provide direct financial assistance to patients for travel costs or make travel arrangements for patients. Meals, accommodation, mileage, fuel and local transportation expenses are not included in TAP and are the responsibility of the patient.
There is no reimbursement for travel already taken.
To be eligible for TAP as a patient:
- you must be a B.C. resident and be enrolled in the Medical Services Plan (MSP);
- you must have a referral from a physician or nurse practitioner for MSP insured specialist medical services which are not available locally;
- your travel expenses must not be covered by third party insurance, such as an employer plan, extended medical plan, Insurance Corporation of BC, WorkSafeBC or federal government program (e.g. Veterans' Affairs).
The referral must be to the closest location for non-emergency medical specialist services not available in your community. TAP forms are only available from your referring physician or nurse practitioner at the time the referral is made.
A referral cannot be made from a general practitioner or nurse practitioner to another general practitioner. Referrals for services not insured by MSP, or services being paid privately by the patient, are not a benefit under TAP.
An escort is eligible for TAP only when accompanying a patient who is:
- 18 years of age and under; or
- incapable of travelling independently for medical reasons.
An escort is not eligible for TAP when driving a vehicle on behalf of a patient who does not qualify under (1) or (2) above, or when travelling alone to pick up a patient.
Your physician or nurse practitioner must indicate on the TAP form that an escort is required for one of the two reasons cited above.
Please note that transportation partners have the right to refuse an incomplete or altered TAP form. If your specialist appointment has been rescheduled and you are now travelling on a different date than what appears on the TAP form, please advise your transportation carrier accordingly.
Step 1: Complete Your TAP Form
Your physician, nurse practitioner, or specialty clinic will provide the TAP form and complete most of it for you.
Check to make sure the information entered is correct and that the form has been signed or stamped by the referring physician or nurse practitioner.
Print your address, including postal code and telephone number, in the spaces provided.
Sign the declaration on the front of the form confirming that your medical travel expenses are not covered by a third-party insurance plan or another government program.
Proceed to Step 2 preferably two weeks prior to your travel date.
Note to Patients: Unused TAP forms must be shredded or otherwise destroyed; TAP forms are only valid for three months (90 days) after the appointment date on your TAP form.
If your specialist appointment date changes by more than three months (90 days), you will need to obtain and complete a new TAP form.
Step 2: Obtain a TAP Confirmation Number
Telephone TAP before you make travel arrangements to verify your eligibility and receive a confirmation number. Applicants who present forms without confirmation numbers will be refused discounts.
The TAP automated application service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
B.C. (toll-free): 1 800 661-2668
Don’t wait until the night before your date of travel to contact TAP!
When you call TAP, you will be asked for your Personal Health Number (on your BC Services Card) and the information provided by your physician or nurse practitioner on the TAP form.
Please have your Personal Health Number (PHN) and the TAP form ready.
Once your TAP request is accepted, enter the TAP confirmation number in the space provided on your form.
Income Assistance Recipients
If you are receiving basic income assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, telephone TAP for a confirmation number, then take the form to your financial assistance worker before making travel arrangements.
Step 3: Present Your Completed TAP Form
To receive your discount, present the completed TAP form (including the TAP confirmation number) at the time you make air, rail, and northern ferry reservations.
If you are traveling by BC Ferries on southern routes, present the completed TAP form at least one hour prior to your planned departure time at the following locations:
- Comox, Powell River, Nanaimo: Toll booth
- Swartz Bay, Horseshoe Bay, Gulf Islands: Toll booth
- Tsawwassen: Administration/Toll Plaza
- Langdale: Administration
For northern ferry routes, present your completed TAP form at least 24 hours before scheduled sailing at the following locations:
- Skidegate/Prince Rupert: Administration
- Port Hardy: Administration (reservation required)
- McLoughlin Bay: Toll Booth (reservation required)
If travelling by BC Ferries, you must take the same ferry route home as you took to the specialist appointment
Follow Up Appointments
If the specialist or specialty medical service provider determines that another appointment is required as part of the same course of treatment, please ask the specialist's office for another travel assistance form to be completed for the next appointment.
Forms can also be provided to eligible patients from the Social Work departments of major hospitals, the BC Cancer Agency, Centre for Excellence at St. Paul's Hospital, Transplant Clinics, and other hospital based specialty clinics.
Follow the same application process as outlined above.
Reminders for Patients and Physicians
- Benefits under the Travel Assistance Program do not apply to referrals from a general practitioner or nurse practitioner to another general practitioner; referrals must be to a specialist physician or to a specialty medical service.
- Referrals for services not insured by the Medical Services Plan (MSP), or services being paid for privately by the patient, are not a benefit under TAP.
- TAP forms may only be used to attend specialist medical appointments. Audits of patient travel and attendance at a specialist appointment will be conducted to ensure compliance with this requirement.
Important Information for TAP Patients and Transportation Partners
- TAP forms are only valid for three months (90 days) after the appointment date on the patient’s completed TAP form. This will allow for the rescheduling of specialist appointments, without the patient having to obtain another TAP form from their referring physician or nurse practitioner.
- Please note that patients may, in good faith, cross out the original appointment date on the TAP form and enter the rescheduled date; if the TAP form is otherwise unaltered and appears to be valid, please accept the amended form once the patient has explained the need for a change in the date of travel.
- If a specialist appointment date is changed by more than three months (90 days), a patient will need to obtain and complete a new TAP form.
- If a specialist appointment is no longer required, unused TAP forms must be shredded or otherwise destroyed.
- For TAP patients travelling on BC Ferries, please note that patients must return to their home community via the same BC Ferries route that they used to attend the specialist appointment or specialty medical service.
TAP is pleased to announce our new travel partner - Seair Seaplanes Ltd., effective April 8, 2016.
Seair Seaplanes Ltd - 30 percent discount on regular economy fares on any scheduled services. Seair Seaplanes operates flights from Vancouver Harbour to Nanaimo, from Richmond (YVR) to Nanaimo, and from Richmond (YVR) to the Southern Gulf Islands, including Galiano, Mayne, Pender, Salt Spring, Saturna and Thetis Islands. For more information, call 1-800-447-3247
Angel Flight - provides free air transport for cancer patients whose medical conditions make it difficult or impossible for them to travel by conventional means, to and from hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices and other medical facilities on the lower mainland and points on Vancouver Island. For more information, call 250 818-0288.
Central Mountain Air Ltd. - Regular fare discounted and some flight restrictions waived. CMA serves the following communities: Campbell River, Comox, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Quesnel, Smithers, Terrace, Vancouver and Williams Lake. For more information, call 1 888 865-8585.
Harbour Air Seaplanes - 30 per cent discount on regular economy fares on any scheduled services. For more information, call 1-800-665-0212.
Hawkair - special fares that do not require advance booking, allow change of travel dates without a change fee, are refundable, and can be booked for an open return. HawkAir flies from Smithers, Prince Rupert and Terrace-Kitimat to Vancouver. For more information, call 1 800 487-1216.
Helijet - 30 per cent discount on economy fare for flights on scheduled service between Victoria Harbour and Vancouver Harbour or Vancouver Airport. For more information, call 1 800 665-4354.
Orca Airways Ltd. - 25 per cent discount off regular fare. Orca Airways serves the following communities: Abbotsford, Port Alberni, Qualicum Beach, Tofino, Vancouver and Victoria. For more information, call 1 888 359-6722.
Pacific Coastal Airlines - Special medical fares (approx. 30 per cent discount off regular full fare) can be purchased any time before scheduled flight departure with immediate credit card payment. Fares are fully refundable with no change or cancellation fees. Point-to-point flights to/from Vancouver and Anahim Lake, Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Campbell River, Comox, Cranbrook, Klemtu, Masset, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Powell River, Trail, Victoria, Williams Lake. For more information, call 1 800 663-2872.
WestCoast Air - 30 per cent discount on scheduled flights. Daily scheduled service to Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox, and the Sunshine Coast. For more information, call 1 800 665-0212.
VIA Rail - 30 per cent discount. Tickets can be obtained at VIA ticket offices in Vancouver, Prince George, Prince Rupert and Victoria. B.C. residents located outside these areas should call 1 888 842-7245 to make advance ticketing arrangements. Please refer to discount PR6145 when making a reservation.
BC Ferry Services, Inc. - Full discount for patient, escort (if approved by referring physician) and regular passenger car fare (those traveling in over height and extra length vehicles, including recreational vehicles and trailers, are required to pay the difference between regular and assessed fare for their vehicle).
For TAP patients travelling on BC Ferries, please note that patients must return to their home community via the same BC Ferries route that they used to attend the specialist appointment or specialty medical service.
It is the patient's responsibility to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements.