How to get a Health Card Ontario

Accessing health care in Ontario

Our guide to getting an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card

So you’ve arrived in Canada, and are living in Ontario on your IEC working holiday visa. Hopefully you’ve come with some travel insurance that’ll cover you in case of any immediate medical emergencies (you shouldn’t have got handed your visa at the border without the insurance!).

But what about those non-emergency medical things, which you would normally just visit your local doctor to get sorted?

This is where an Ontario Health Card comes in, and we will take you through the steps to get one and how to get registered with a local doctor. Of course, in most cases, your travel insurance will cover you for doctors visits, but having an OHIP card makes life easier (and cheaper).

Stewart in hospital
Stewart just went to hospital for the free lunch! (To alleviate Stewart’s parents concerns, this was after his knee operation in 2012, and nothing bad has happened in Canada!)

OHIP Eligibility

The first thing to know is that you need to have lived and worked in Ontario for 3 months before you can get an Ontario Health Card. Your employment also needs to be guaranteed for the next 6 months minimum.

There’s always a form

Go to the Service Ontario website and download this registration form. Alternatively, pick one up from a Service Ontario centre. You need a first time health card form, and not an application form for a renewal. The next step is obvious – complete the form! It’s simple, and you will have all the details to hand.

Completing your OHIP application

You not only need the completed form, but you also need to provide provide three documents – one from each of the following lists. All documents must be originals, photocopies are not allowed. If, like us, you are in Canada on a work permit you will also need to provide proof of full time employment.

List 1 – Proof of Citizenship or OHIP-Eligible Immigration Status

To prove that you are a Canadian citizen or hold another immigration status that makes you eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage, such as:

  • Work permit (proof of full-time employment in Ontario may be required)
  • Written confirmation for Citizenship and Immigration Canada that you are eligible for Canadian citizenship or permanent residency
  • Confirmation of permanent residence
  • Canadian passport, birth certificate or certificate of citizenship

List 2 – proof of residency in Ontario

A document that displays your name, current home address and confirms that your primary place of residence is in Ontario, such as:

  • Employer record (pay stub or letter from employer on company letterhead)
  • An insurance policy
  • Monthly mailed bank account statement
  • Rental or lease agreement
  • Statement of Employment Insurance Benefits Paid T4E
  • Utility bill
  • Valid Ontario Driver’s Licence

List 3 – Support of Identity

A document that displays both your name and your signature, such as:

  • Passport
  • Ontario Driver’s Licence
  • Canadian Immigration Identification Card
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence
  • Credit card
  • Current employee ID
  • Permanent Resident Card

Proof of employment letter

For proof of employment, this is where you need to be careful as Service Ontario does not make this clear. You need a letter – not a contract or offer of employment – from your employer that states:

  • That you are working full time
  • Your title/occupation
  • That you will be employed by the company within Ontario
  • The start date of employment
  • That the employer intends to employ you for a minimum of 6 months. (Your health card will expire on the date your employer says they can employ you until. This should be the date your visa expires, if not before).

It also needs to be on company letterhead, signed and dated (after the date you took residency in Ontario). This letter can also be used as proof or residence/address if it states your full address.

Where to apply for your OHIP

With all that in place, visit a Service Ontario that will process new health card applications. Make sure you check the list on the website as not all Service Ontario centres will do this.

Once at Service Ontario they will process your application form and look at your other documents as necessary. You will need to give your signature and have a photo taken (so make sure you get a good sleep the night before!).

Receiving your Ontario Health Card

Service Ontario will issue you with a temporary health ‘card’ (it’s just a piece of paper) then and there. This gives you your all important number and enables you to get started with health care services.

Your actual health card will arrive in the post soon after.


Your health card will only be valid until the expiration of your work permit. Therefore, if you are staying in Canada longer (for example, if you have a second work permit) then you will need to renew your health card once you have extended your stay/activated your new work permit.


Finding a family doctor

So your shiny new health card has arrived in the post, but you still need to find a doctor. You can do this yourself or head to Health Care Connect’s website, register your details and let them do all the hard work.

Health Care Connect will review doctors local to your home to establish whether any are accepting new patients. You will likely then receive a call and/or letter informing you of a doctor with capacity who you can contact.

Now it’s back up to you! Give the doctor a call so you can officially register with them as a patient and to book that first appointment.


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