New residents of Canada and Fair PharmaCare

Last updated: October 12, 2023

New residents of Canada can register for Fair PharmaCare at the same time or once you are enrolled in Medical Services Plan (MSP). If you register at the same time, your Fair PharmaCare account will be active as soon as your MSP enrolment is complete. Register for Fair PharmaCare online or by paper, or by phone.

On this page: Verifying your income | Medical Services Plan | Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)

Verifying your income

Fair PharmaCare coverage is based on your income. When you register, you provide your family net income for the relevant tax year, which is 2 years before the current year. To get coverage, you consent for PharmaCare to check your family income with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). We verify your income when you register, and every year after.

If you did not file an income tax return in Canada for that tax year, you can submit a Fair PharmaCare Proof of Income Affidavit (PDF)(763KB). You must sign the affidavit in front of a notary public or a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits at a Service BC office. Service BC charges a small fee to witness the signing of an affidavit; a notary public will likely charge more.

Be sure that your affidavit:

  • Is submitted for the correct tax year
  • Declares income for you and your spouse, if applicable
  • Is notarized or witnessed by a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits at a Service BC office
  • Is mailed in, not faxed. HIBC requires the original affidavit copy

Your Fair PharmaCare coverage will start as soon as we receive and process your registration, but coverage is temporary until we can verify your income. You will have a limited time (approximately 60 days) to provide HIBC with documents verifying your income. If you do not provide the documents within that time, your temporary coverage will expire, and your deductible will be set to a maximum value of $10,000.

Medical Services Plan (MSP)

Before you receive coverage under most PharmaCare plans, you must have active Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage . Both MSP and PharmaCare are provincial programs that help B.C. residents with health care costs.  PharmaCare helps people with the cost of many prescription drugs, and some medical supplies (like insulin pumps, ostomy supplies, and some prosthetics). MSP pays for medically necessary hospital and doctor services. MSP enrolment is mandatory for all B.C. residents. PharmaCare coverage is optional, but strongly encouraged.

MSP will assign you a Personal Health Number (PHN). New residents must apply for MSP as soon as possible. Applying immediately allows time for processing the application. Your MSP coverage would be in place after completing a wait period that consists of the balance of the month in which residence is established, plus two months.

The spouse or child of a B.C. resident who is an Applicant for Permanent Resident Status may be eligible for MSP. Also, those on a working holiday in B.C. may be eligible.

Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)

If you are a recent immigrant to Canada, and have not met the residency requirement for MSP coverage, some of your prescription drug costs may be covered by the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). This program is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. It temporarily covers certain health-care benefits for eligible groups in Canada that otherwise don't have any level of health coverage, such as:

  1. Resettled refugees
  2. Protected persons in Canada
  3. Refugee claimants
  1. Victims of human trafficking
  2. Detainees

Even if you are covered by IFHP, enrolling in Fair PharmaCare is a good idea. IFHP offers only temporary coverage, and it does not cover as many prescription drugs as Fair PharmaCare.

Questions about PharmaCare?

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Related links

Fair PharmaCare information sheets are available in English, French, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Punjabi, Farsi, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino.