The are two official languages in Canada – English and French.
Toronto’s currency is the Canadian dollar. Commonly used small coins are the 5-cent (“nickel”), 10 cent (“dime”), 25 cent (“quarter”). The two main coins are the $1 gold-coloured coin, commonly called a “Loonie” (the loon is the bird engraved on one side), and the $2 silver and gold tone coin is called the “toonie”. Paper bills come in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. $1000 denominations are available but can only be exchanged at a bank.
Banks throughout Toronto are open Monday to Friday from approximately 10:00am – 05:00pm. Some banks are open on Saturdays and Sundays. You will find an Automated Teller (ATM) in most convenience stores, hotel lobbies and other public places.
Credit Cards (including American Express, Visa and MasterCard) are welcome at most establishments throughout Toronto.
On most purchases, a total of 13% HST (harmonized sales tax) is charged on taxable items apply. There is no HST on most grocery items but restaurant meals are taxed. Please note that while shopping the prices do not include taxes and you must pay the tax over and above the price indicated on the sticker.
Restaurant tipping is left to the customer’s discretion, but the customary amount is 15% – 20%. Many restaurants automatically add a tip or gratuity to the bill for groups larger than 6 or 8 people. It is also customary to tip bellhops, luggage handlers and taxi drivers, at your discretion.
Emergency and Safety
Toronto remains one of the safest cities in the world, and the safest largest city in North America. It has the largest municipal Emergency Medical Service in Canada, with 850 paramedics based in 41 stations across Toronto. When planning your trip it is important to be aware of the safety services available to you. Please make sure you are also aware of your embassy’s phone number and location in the event you lose your travel documents.
In an emergency of health, safety or crime – Dial 911
Canada operates on 110V, 60 cycle electric power, which is the same as in the United States. Non-North American visitors should bring a plug adapter if they wish to use their own small appliances from home (razors, hair dryers, laptops etc.). If you are visiting from countries, such as Australia, that use a higher voltage, you may encounter problems charging your rechargeable batteries. Canadian electrical goods come with either a two-prong plug, which is the same as the US or a three-prong plug; most sockets accommodate both.
Smoking is not permitted in the Congress facilities. The city of Toronto has public health regulations that prevent smoking in public buildings, on public transit and in all restaurants and lounges.
In Toronto, the legal drinking age is 19; bars and restaurants are open until 03:00am in some parts of the city. In Toronto there are stiff penalties for drinking and driving so we suggest you use public transit.