Are you visiting Canada for the first time and have questions about general social norms in Canada? Do remember that if you are a citizen of a country that does not require a visa to visit Canada you are now required to apply online for a Canada eta before traveling to Canada.
Canada is a very open and tolerant country that respects everyone. There are, however, a number of things that Canadians expect all visitors to comply with. Below are a few norms that are important in Canada and will ensure that your trip is enjoyable.
- Respect for racial and social diversity – Canada is a melting pot with people from all over the world living in peace and harmony. Making inappropriate jokes about races, religions or members of the LBGT community are unacceptable and offensive to Canadians.
- Respect for the law – Canadians are law-abiding citizens that show respect to public officials including the police, government employees and immigration officers. Being disrespectful to any authority figure will only bring you problems including legal issues that you want to avoid.
- Respect for the environment – Canada is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world and Canadians place enormous emphasis on keeping it this way. Littering, failing to recycle or polluting are socially unacceptable in Canada and can bring you not only social scorn but legal trouble as well.
- Politeness – Canadians are renowned for their politeness. This includes greeting everyone they meet and making small talk. As a visitor do keep this in mind and don’t be surprised when people approach you and make small talk throughout your stay in Canada.
- Personal space – Canadians are a northern people and therefore have a different sense of personal space from people from other regions. Keep in mind that when talking to you Canadians will tend to keep a fairly large space to communicate and will feel uncomfortable if you get too close. Also, physical contact is not common in Canada and touching people you have just met when having a conversation is not something Canadians are accustomed to.
- Tipping – Tipping in Canada is similar to the United States. In restaurants the expected tip is between 15% to 20% of the bill for good service. In hotels you should tip bell boys and the concierge if they help you carry your luggage or help you arrange reservations in restaurants or other events.
- Smoking – Smoking is legal in Canada but it has become socially unacceptable. Smoking is not permitted in restaurants, bars, hotels or other public establishments. Smoking outside buildings is only permitted in designated areas that have a certain distance from the building entry. Smoking is not allowed in many parks so it is important to check whether it is permitted or not before lighting up.
- Driving – It is important to comply with all laws when driving specially respecting speed limits. Speeding in Canada is a serious offense and people who violate the law will be subject to heavy fines and even imprisonment for serious violations of the law.
Canada is a very welcoming and open country. Respecting Canadian laws and social norms is not very complicated as they are common in most countries. In order to enjoy your trip in Canada please ensure you follow the norms to ensure you have a pleasant and enjoyable trip.