Coverage Wait Period

New (and returning) residents are required to complete a wait period consisting of the balance of the month in which residence in British Columbia is established, plus two months before benefits can begin. The date residency is considered to have been established is determined by the Ministry of Health based on a number of factors, including the type of immigration status held. For some persons the wait period doesn’t start when they arrive in the province - it starts later. For example, a person who arrives as a tourist or visitor may later receive a change in immigration status in Canada that qualifies the person for MSP coverage.

You should apply for MSP coverage immediately after arriving in B.C., rather than at the end of the wait period, to allow time for your application to be processed

When a family moves to B.C. from within Canada and the applicant and spouse arrive separately, each person has their own wait period based on their arrival dates in B.C

Once they arrive in B.C., the other family members can be added to the account. The rest of the family remains eligible for coverage in the other province for the balance of the month of departure plus two months, and will be required to complete the wait period once arriving in BC.

Discharged Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, and spouse/child(ren) of CAF members, are exempt from these wait period requirements. For more information, visit

Coverage During the Wait Period

New residents from other parts of Canada should maintain coverage with their former medical plan during the wait period. New or returning residents arriving from outside Canada should contact a private insurance company for coverage during this period.

Emergency Medical Care

A person can receive required medical and hospital services in B.C. before qualifying for provincial benefits. However, the entire cost of such services is payable by the person, unless other arrangements for health care insurance have been made. As costs may be very high, those who plan to move to B.C. from outside Canada are strongly recommended to make arrangements for health insurance through a private company before arrival, and to maintain that insurance until provincial benefits are available. Of note, private insurance companies have an almost universal policy of not covering pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy.

Appealing the Wait Period

The wait period protects the province’s health care plans by reducing the likelihood of individuals coming to British Columbia for the purpose of receiving health care services at public expense.

While a process is in place to review appeals from persons who have received, or will require, health care services during the wait period, waivers are only approved in the most extenuating circumstances.  Please note that this waiver process is intended for persons who have already established residence in B.C.

When an appeal for a waiver of the wait period is received, consideration is given to a number of factors such as whether a verifiable error was made by Health Insurance BC in assigning the effective date of MSP coverage, whether the person’s medical condition meets a requirement of having been diagnosed in the wait period, the seriousness of the condition, whether the person was able to access required health care services during the wait period and whether private insurance was obtained/obtainable for the wait period.  In addition, the costs of health care received during the wait period must meet the requirement of being financially devastating.  

This process is not intended to address limits other provinces place on the coverage they provide or as a means by which a person can obtain early access to other B.C. health care programs.

Eligibility for MSP must be determined prior to applying for a waiver of the wait period. 

To request a review for a waiver of the wait period, please click here

Complete, sign and attach all required documentation and mail/fax the application form to :

Beneficiary Services Branch
Ministry of Health
PO Box 9649 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9P4
Fax: (250) 952-3268

If you require an additional financial statement, please click here.