Section on Canadian tourists from Visit Britain brochure “Delivering a first class welcome”


Social practices – not laws – govern many types of behaviour in Canada. Some traditions are well established and are politely but firmly enforced.

For example:

  • Lining up, or queuing: People normally line up or queue according to the principle of ‘first-come, first-served.’ They will be angry if you push ahead in a line-up instead of waiting your turn.
  • Not smoking in private homes: Most Canadians do not smoke.
  • When you are in people’s homes, you should always ask their permission to smoke. However this may be different in Quebec.
  • Being on time: You should always arrive on time. People who are often late may be fired from their jobs or suspended from school. Many Canadians will not wait more than 10-15 minutes for someone at a business meeting. For social events, it is expected that you will arrive within half an hour of the stated time.
  • Respect for the environment: Canadians respect the natural environment and expect people to avoid littering.
  • Bargaining: Bargaining for a better price is not common in Canada, but there are some exceptions. People who sell things privately may also bargain.
  • Smart shopping: Stores compete on price with one another to attract customers. Note: the price marked on goods in stores does not include taxes, which add from 7-15% to the cost of an item, depending on the province.
  • Shaking hands: It is customary that you always shake hands at a first-time meeting and always in business situations.
  • First names: Canadians are always on a first name basis; especially in social situations and informal business environments.
  • Not Americans: The Canadian visitor to Britain is not an American.
  • Many in Britain treat Canadians as Americans even though they are quite different from their American neighbours. Canadian may take offence if labeled as American. Canadians often identify themselves as Canadians by wearing a maple leaf pin, or a maple leaf on clothing, etc.