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Health Insurance 

International students in Nova Scotia need to have health insurance for the duration of their stay in the province. Since each post-secondary institution has different insurance plans and policies, it’s important to contact your institution directly to learn about details such as coverage, fees, service providers, and emergency contacts. You should also know the opt-out policy for your institution’s international student insurance plan in case you are or become eligible for Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance.  

Note: many post-secondary institutions have health centers on or near campus where students may see a doctor or nurse practitioner.  

Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance (MSI) 

International students with a valid study permit and their spouses and dependents will be eligible for Medical Services Insurance (MSI) coverage on the first day of the 13th month of their full-time residence in Nova Scotia. 

If you come to Nova Scotia as an international student accompanied by your spouse who holds a work permit or employment contract that is valid for a minimum of 12 months upon their arrival, your spouse is eligible to apply for MSI when they arrive in Nova Scotia, provided they have signed a declaration. Dependents legally entitled to remain in Canada will be granted coverage on the same basis as the worker.  

Those eligible for MSI must register for a health card in Nova Scotia, providing them with MSI coverage. Call the MSI Registration and Enquiry Department at 902-496-7008 or 1-800-563-8880 to start the application process.   

Nova Scotia’s health insurance programs are designed to provide eligible residents with universal access to medically necessary hospital and healthcare services, with some restrictions. The province's general revenues meet the cost of providing these services to Nova Scotians. Individuals with MSI coverage do not pay any premiums. Visitors to Nova Scotia are not eligible for MSI coverage.

Primary Health Care in Nova Scotia 

Options to access primary health care in Nova Scotia:  

  • Access VirtualCareNS 
  • Call 811 to speak with a registered nurse for health advice. 
  • Speak with a pharmacist who can treat minor concerns. 
  • Visit 
  • See a list of where to go for health care in your area. 
  • Call 911 if health, safety, or property is threatened and you need help immediately. The 911 call taker (operator) will notify emergency responders, such as fire, police, or ambulance. 

Websites such as Skip the Waiting Room and Medimap are helpful in learning the hours of operation and waiting times for clinics in your area.  

The Department of Health and Wellness regulations allow international students with a study permit and individuals with a work permit to be absent from Nova Scotia for more than 31 consecutive days without losing Nova Scotia MSI coverage, including spouses and dependents. 

Nova Scotia Health Cards for international students indicate “VALID IN NS ONLY.” Your current health card will remain valid; however, if you are an international student travelling outside of Nova Scotia before your health card expires and wish to obtain a replacement card, contact MSI at 1-800-563-8880 to request a replacement free of charge.  

811 Service 

811 is an essential phone and online service provider in and by the province of Nova Scotia. It offers 24/7 access to non-emergency health information and services, even if you don’t have an MSI card. 

How it works 

When you call 811, you’ll be connected with a registered nurse who can provide advice and information concerning any general health issues and questions you have. Advice may include recommending a doctor or visiting a local emergency department. You can also obtain information about health issues and health services in your community.  

 If you or a family member does not speak English, 811 can provide services in many other languages. Services in different languages are offered through a third-party Interpretation service.  

 To receive support in another language, call 811 and select option 3, option 1, then option 1 again. After doing so, an attendant will ask you which language you’d like to receive support in and put you on hold while they connect you with an interpreter who can help.  

 Reliable health information is available online through the 811 website.