Health Insurance for Syrian Refugees

All Syrian refugees are eligible for Medical Services Plan (MSP) and have full Interim Federal Health (IFH) coverage


Enrolment in MSP is not automatic. Upon arrival in Canada, refugees must complete an enrolment form (usually with the assistance of a settlement worker or sponsor) and send it to Health Insurance BC with copies of immigration documents. There is no wait period for MSP, but processing takes approximately 8-12 weeks. In extenuating circumstances (e.g. pregnancy), a phone call can expedite the process. Call HIBC at 1-800-663-7100 with any questions about enrolment.


Syrian refugees are given their IFH certificate by CBSA officers at the point of entry into Canada, or issued one by an IRCC officer shortly after arrival. IFH is in effect for one year. 

As of April 1, 2016, IFH coverage has been fully restored to pre-2012 levels, with full coverage for all refugees and claimants, including: 

  • Physician and hospital services

  • Laboratory and diagnostic services

  • Medications on BC formulary plus some additional drug benefits

  • Supplemental services such as basic dental care, optometry, physiotherapy & counseling

If a patient requires a medication that is not covered, the physician can apply to IFH for Prior Approval.

To confirm the patient’s coverage, locate the 8-digit client ID number at the upper right-hand corner of their IFH document, and enter it into Medavie’s secure provider web portal, or call 1-888-614-1880.

A patient with IFH coverage (i.e.. for the first year in Canada) is not eligible for Pharmacare, even if they have MSP. A Pharmacare application must be filed at the end of the first year. Refugee patients need to be directed to do this, by their settlement worker, sponsor or primary care provider.

Provider Registration with IFH

Providers (physicians, labs, pharmacies etc) must register with IFH in order to bill for their services. An unregistered health care provider who submits a claim to IFH will have the claim put on hold until they complete the registration. 

Providers can register by completing a registration form and returning it by email, fax or post. There is also the option of registering on the provider’s website by clicking on the “Request Account” link on the top right of the screen. For more detailed instructions on how to register, call Medavie Blue Cross directly at 1-888-614-1880. 

When a patient with IFH (and no MSP) requires blood work, imaging or a referral, they must be directed to a provider registered with IFH. 

BC Refugee Readiness Fund is part of the WelcomeBC
umbrella of services, made possible through funding
from the Province of British Columbia.