Doing Business In Canada

Visa Information

Citizens of dozens of countries – including the USA, most Western European and Commonwealth countries, as well as Mexico, Japan, South Korea and Israel – don’t need visas to enter Canada for stays of up to 180 days. US permanent residents are also exempt.
Nationals of around 150 other countries, including South Africa and China, need to apply to the Canadian visa office in their home country for a temporary resident visa (TRV). The website maintained by Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC; has full details, including office addresses and the latest requirements. A separate visa is required if you plan to study or work in Canada.
Single-entry TRVs ($75) are usually valid for a maximum stay of six months from the date of your arrival in Canada. Multiple-entry TRVs ($150) allow you to enter Canada from all other countries multiple times while the visa is valid (usually two or three years), provided no single stay exceeds six months.
Visa extensions ($75) need to be filed with the CIC Visitor Case Processing Centre (888-242-2100; 8am-4pm Mon-Fri) in Alberta at least one month before your current visa expires.

Business Etiquette

Meeting and Greeting

Canadian businesspeople often begin relationships in a reserved manner; once people get to know one another is becomes friendly and informal.

Canadians appreciate politeness and expect others to adhere to the proper protocol for any given situation.

Shake hands with everyone at the meeting upon arrival and departure.

Maintain eye contact while shaking hands.

Men may offer their hand to a woman without waiting for her to extend hers first.

Honorific titles and surnames are usually not used.

However, academic titles are important in Quebec and are used with the honorific Monsieur or Madame.

Business cards are exchanged after the initial introduction.

In Quebec, have one side of your business card translated into French. Hand the card so the French side faces the recipient.

Examine any card you receive before putting it in your card case.


Canadian Communication Styles

It is difficult to specify any national trait in terms of communication in Canada due to its regionalism and cultural diversity. However, there are some basic communication styles that are fairly standard across the country. For example, businesspeople are generally polite, easy-going and somewhat informal. 
In general, communication is” moderately indirect” perhaps reflecting an amalgamation of both North American and British tendencies. Although most Canadians can disagree openly when necessary, they prefer to do so with tact and diplomacy. Their communication style is essentially pragmatic and relies on common sense. If you come from a culture where communication is very direct, you may wish to soften your demeanour and tone so as not to appear threatening. 
Communication styles vary most between Anglophone and Francophone parts of the country. Francophones are generally more indirect than Anglophones, although less so than the French. They also tend to be more exuberant than Anglophones. Anglophones do not generally interrupt someone who is speaking. They consider it rude not to let a person complete their thought before entering the discussion. Francophones are more likely to interrupt another speaker. 
Canadians communicate more by the spoken word rather than non-verbal expressions. Non-verbal expressions are only really used to add emphasis to a message or are part of an individual’s personal communication style. 
Canadians like their space and prefer to be at an arm’s length when speaking to someone. 
Canadians are reticent to discuss their personal lives with business associates. They expect people to speak in a straightforward manner and to be able to back up their claims with examples. They do not make exaggerated claims and are suspicious of something that sounds too good to be true. 

Business Meetings

Canadians begin meetings with a minimal amount of small talk although one should expect to spend a few minutes exchanging pleasantries and the like. In Quebec there may be more time spent on relationship-building. 

Meetings are generally well-organized and adhere to time schedules. They tend to be informal and relaxed in manner even if the subjects being discussed are serious. When meeting with Anglophones, meetings may seem more democratic as all participants will engage and contribute. Meetings with Francophones, due to a greater respect for hierarchy and position, may revolve more around the most senior attendees. 
Meetings in Canadian companies are used to review proposals, make plans, brain-storm and communicate decisions. Attendees will generally represent a variety of levels and experiences; all are expected to express opinions. 
When presenting information, it is important to have facts and figures to substantiate claims and promises. Canadians are essentially rational and logical and thus they will not be convinced by emotions, passion or feelings.

General Business Hours

Standard business hours, including for most government offices, are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Bank hours vary but are generally 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and sometimes 9am to noon on Saturday. Post offices are generally open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, but outlets in retail stores (eg pharmacies, grocery stores) may stay open later and on weekends.
Most restaurants serve lunch between 11:30am and 2:30pm Monday to Friday and dinner from 5pm to 9:30pm daily, later on weekends. Some are closed on Monday. A few serve breakfast from 8am to 11am on weekdays and brunch from 8am to 1pm on Saturday and/or Sunday.
Pubs are generally open from 11am to 2am daily, although exact times vary by province. Bars welcome patrons from around 5pm until 2am nightly, while music and dance clubs in cities open their doors at 9pm, though often Wednesday through Saturday only. Most close at 2am, but if they’re busy they may stay open until 3am or 4am.
Shops are generally open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday. In shopping malls and districts, stores often stay open until 8pm or 9pm on Thursday and Friday evenings. Many shops also open on Sunday from noon to 5pm, although this is less prevalent on Prince Edward Island and in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Supermarkets stay open from 9am to 8pm throughout the week, with some open 24 hours.