Creating a PHN - ECR.05

Last updated on February 27, 2019

All Patients Need a PHN

A PHN must be assigned to every identified person receiving a health care service in British Columbia.

Some patients may not have a record (or PHN) in the Client Registry; this can occur when the patient:

  • has recently moved to B.C.
  • is visiting from out-of-province, or
  • is a baby born in B.C. outside of a hospital

    Note: If a baby did not receive a PHN at birth (via Hospital or midwife), a PHN will be created when the baby presents for a health service.

It is important to ensure that the patient is uniquely identified and entered in the Client Registry only once. Never add a new patient record to the Client Registry if one already exists.

If you create a PHN for your patient, give it to them, and explain that it does not imply coverage with the B.C. Medical Services Plan (MSP).

Note: A PHN must never be assigned to a non-human (e.g., doctor's office, medical facility, pet).

Patients from Out-of-Province

A PHN must be assigned to every identified person, including non-residents or visitors, receiving a health care service in B.C.


Babies born in a B.C. hospital are assigned a PHN at the time of birth and that PHN will be found in the Client Registry. If a baby cannot be found in the Client Registry, a PHN must be created, recorded in the patient chart, and provided to the parent(s).

Note: The mother's PHN must not be used.

  • If a PHN for the baby is not found in the Client Registry one must be created using the baby's registered name
  • If the baby has not been named, enter the first name as 'baby boy' or 'baby girl' and the baby's surname
  • When a new PHN is returned from the Client Registry it must be provided to the parent(s) with instructions to include it on the application for MSP coverage or Vital Statistics Agency birth registration form
  • If the baby was not born in B.C., a PHN must still be created. In the absence of trusted identity documentation, the baby's name must be confirmed with the parent(s)

PHN Created in Error

If a PHN is created in error (e.g., the patient already had a PHN), contact the Client Registry Administrator at: