July 21, 2024

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Quebec Health Insurance Plan for International Students

5 min read

Navigating healthcare services in a new country can be challenging. For international students in Quebec, understanding whether you are eligible for public health insurance through the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) is essential.


This guide on the Quebec Health Insurance Plan is specifically tailored for international students. Whether you’re planning to move to Quebec for your studies or have already arrived, navigating the local health insurance system is crucial. This blog will walk you through the essentials of health services in Quebec, including eligibility criteria, application procedures, and what services are covered. Equip yourself with the knowledge to ensure a healthy and worry-free educational experience in Quebec. Let’s dive in and explore all that RAMQ has to offer you as an international student, starting with your eligibility and how to access health coverage.

Eligibility Conditions for International Students

Before heading to Québec, it’s crucial to have the following documents ready:

  1. Proof of full-time enrollment at a Québec educational institution, Letter of Acceptance or an internship or research contract if relevant.
  2. Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) or a certificate confirming the issuance of your CAQ, which verifies your eligibility to study in Québec for periods longer than six months.
  3. Study permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or the identity page of your passport if a study permit is not applicable.
  4. Proof of enrollment in your home country’s social security system. Please verify if your country has a social security agreement with Quebec in the section below. For those not covered under such agreements, refer to the section: ‘What International Students from Countries without Agreements with Quebec Need to Know.

Agreements with Other Countries

Quebec has social security agreements with several countries that can affect health coverage for students from those nations. These agreements often allow students to benefit from RAMQ under certain conditions, simplifying access to healthcare services during their stay. Some of the countries included in these agreements are France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden, among others. (Read the full list here). Students from these countries typically need to provide proof of similar health coverage from their home country to qualify for RAMQ coverage.

Limitations and Exclusions

While RAMQ provides comprehensive coverage, there are some limitations and exclusions specific to international students:

  • Waiting Period: There may be a three-month waiting period before your coverage becomes active, during which you are advised to obtain private health insurance.
  • Travel Coverage: RAMQ does not cover health services outside Quebec, so if you travel, even to other parts of Canada, consider obtaining additional travel health insurance.
  • Certain Services: Services like dental care, vision care, and certain elective procedures are not covered by RAMQ and might require additional private insurance.

Understanding these key aspects will help international students in Quebec navigate their health coverage options and ensure they have the necessary protection while studying. Always check the latest guidelines from RAMQ and consult with your institution’s international office for the most accurate and tailored advice.

Process to Register in the RAMQ

The process to register as a foreign student coming from a country with a social security agreement with Quebec is straightforward but requires attention to detail:

  1. Gather Necessary Documents: Before arriving in Quebec, it’s wise to gather all required documents, including your study permit, proof of acceptance and enrollment from your educational institution, and proof of enrollment in your home country’s social security system.
  2. Submit Your Application: Upon arrival in Quebec, you can apply for RAMQ coverage. Ideally, you should submit your application as soon as possible since the processing itself can take several weeks. if you are already in Quebec, you can mail your application or visit a RAMQ office. Some institutions also offer assistance through their international student office.
  3. Waiting Period: Once your application is submitted, there is typically a mandatory waiting period. For most newcomers, including foreign students, this period is about three months. During this time, it’s recommended that you maintain private health insurance to cover any medical needs.
  4. Activation: After the waiting period, if your application is successful, your coverage will begin. RAMQ will send you a notification about when your coverage starts and when you can expect to receive your health insurance card.
  5. Receipt of Health Insurance Card: Your Quebec health insurance card, which is necessary to access health services under RAMQ, usually arrives by mail a few weeks after your coverage starts.

Information for International Students from Countries without Agreements with Quebec

Foreign students from countries without health or social security agreements with Quebec are not eligible for immediate coverage under the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). This means you will need to explore other insurance options to cover medical expenses during your studies.

Paying for a Private Health Insurance

You will typically need to purchase a private health insurance plan to meet the conditions of your study permit and to provide necessary health coverage while you are in Quebec. Many educational institutions offer specific insurance plans for their international students, or you can purchase a plan from a private insurer.

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Coverage

After completing your studies, if you apply for and receive a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), you are now eligible for RAMQ. With a PGWP, you can apply for RAMQ coverage as long as you meet the other residency and eligibility requirements. This permit allows you to work in Canada after your studies and makes you eligible for a provincial health insurance plan once you have established sufficient residency in Quebec without the need for a coverage agreement between Quebec and your home country.


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