Money + Banking

Credit + Debit Bank Cards

Credit card and debit card use is widespread throughout Vancouver Island and Tofino. VISA, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted at most Tofino shops and services as are bank debit cards.

Local Banks

C.I.B.C. (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce)
301 Campbell Street, Tofino (intersection of First Street)
V0R 2Z0
t.250.725.3321
Monday – Friday

Coastal Community Credit Union
368 Main Street, Tofino (located in The Shore building, water side)
V0R 2Z0
T.250.725.2366
Tuesday – Saturday

Currency + Taxes

Currency

The Canadian dollar is the currency of exchange. It is similar to American currency with coins including nickels (five cents), dimes (ten cents) and quarters (twenty-five cents.) Our one dollar coin is commonly referred to as a Loonie (for the embossed image of a Loon on one side) and the two dollar coin is called a Twoonie (or toonie.) Canadian currency also comes in bills of various denominations, all in different colours.

You will be able to exchange currency at a bank or credit union. Many restaurants, accommodation properties and shops will accept US dollars, but exchange rates will vary.

Taxes

Currently, the following tax rates apply:

  • 5% Goods & Services Tax (GST) levied by the federal government.
  • 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST)  except on accommodation which is 8% PST,levied by the province.
  • 3% Municipal and Regional District Tax is charged on accommodations in Tofino with four or more rooms.

Taxes are generally not included on listed prices for goods or services.

Emergency Services

Emergency Services
Call 9-1-1 for police, fire, ambulance, search and rescue, and Coast Guard services.

Non-Emergency Services
Tofino General Hospital
261 Neill Street (at First Street)
250.725.3212

Tonquin Medical Clinic (open Monday-Friday)
220 First Street
250.725.3282

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
250 Lone Cone Road (temporary location)
250.725.3242

Driving Laws

As in all of North America, we drive on the right-hand side of the road. We use the metric system for distances and speeds, in kilometres/hour rather than miles/hour. Visitors may drive in BC for a period of up to six months with a valid drivers’ license from another province, state or country. In BC, seat-belts and other safety devices such as child restraints are mandatory and must be worn when vehicles are in motion. Bicycle helmets and motorcycle helmets are required by law. It is prohibited to use cell phones or other handheld electronic devices while driving. Winter tires or/and chains are required by law from October 1 through March 31 on some mountain passes and highways in BC, including Highway 4/Pacific Rim Highway.

Liquor + Smoking Laws

Liquor Consumption and Smoking

The legal drinking age in BC is 19. Anyone under 19 is considered a minor and not permitted in drinking establishments and cannot purchase alcoholic beverages. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is against the law and is strictly enforced.

Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings in British Columbia, including restaurants and bars. Please respect any posted signage while visiting the area. As of June 2018, smoking and vaping are prohibited within 6 metres of outdoor public places, including beaches and parks, in Tofino.

Fireworks

We love a good celebration but the calm of these surroundings makes Tofino the haven it is today.  Fireworks (which include display fireworks, pyrotechnic special effects fireworks and consumer fireworks like roman candles and pin wheels) and firecrackers are legally permitted only on these five dates:

January 1, July 1, July 4, October 31 and December 31.

Get the details of this local bylaw on the District of Tofino website.

Beach Fires

The crackling warmth of a beach fire is a quintessential part of the Tofino experience.  Here’s the low-down on how to respect the easy rules:

Beach fires are permitted only at MacKenzie Beach and Chesterman Beach.

It is prohibited to use driftwood.  Purchase your bundles of wood at campgrounds, gas stations and grocery stores.

Beach fires must be no larger than 2 feet wide and 2 feet high, set below the tide line.

It’s “lights out” at 11:00pm. Stay by your fire until it’s completely extinguished.

Pack out all your things & your garbage 👍

Language

While Canada is officially a bilingual country (French & English), Tofino is primarily an english-speaking town. You will see bilingual signage driving through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve as it is a federal institution. With Tofino situated in traditional Tla-o-qui-aht territory, some of our street signs have names in the Nuu-chah-nulth language.

Electricity

Like the United States, Canada operates on 110V, 60 cycle electric power. We use a two- or three-pronged plug.  Visitors from outside North America should bring a plug adaptor if you are travelling with small appliances from home.

Water Conservation

Pure, fresh water is one of Tofino’s greatest and surprisingly limited natural assets.  You can help our community conserve with a few simple practices:

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
  • Take a short shower instead of a bath
  • Flush the toilet only when necessary
  • Make sure taps are fully off after use

Review the water conservation stages practiced in Tofino.
Print the 2018 Every Drop Counts Poster.

Entry Regulations – Passport and Visas

U.S. Citizens

All U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport to re-enter the United States via air. For re-entry into the U.S. via land and sea borders, U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Driver’s License or other Western Hemisphere Travel initiative-compliant document.

International Visitors

Persons visiting from countries other than the United States must have a valid passport and may require other documentation such as travel visas. Check with the nearest Canadian Consulate well in advance of travel. This information applies to persons entering Canada temporarily as visitors. Other regulations apply if an extended stay, work or certain types of business activity are contemplated.

For more information, consult the Canada Border Services Agency or call toll-free within Canada 1.888.502.9060.

Gratuities + Tipping

Tips are not calculated on your bill, so it is suggested that you add approximately 15-20% to the amount before taxes for services such as restaurant dining and spa treatments.  The amount should be dependent upon the quality of service you receive.

Tour guides, including boat captains and kayak guides, appreciate a tip.  It is standard practice in Canada to offer a gratuity for the service provided by your fishing charter guide.

Drones

Did you know that Tofino is a No Drone Zone?  Due to our proximity to the Tofino Harbour Water Aerodrome and to the Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ), drone use in the District of Tofino is restricted. Here are the Transport Canada regulations.

Dogs on Leashes

Due to wildlife encounters (dogs off-leash are an easy target for cougars and wolves) and destruction of sensitive flora, Parks Canada demands that dogs remain on-leash. Those who fail to comply will be fined.