Travelers Guide

Welcome to Downtown Hotel Service's Travelers Guide! This page includes helpful information regarding: Telephone information, Currency Information, Customs Information, and Visa Information for both the United States and Canada. This page is useful for those who would like to learn more about important travel related topics.

Telephone Information

United States
Visitors traveling to the United States for business or pleasure need to adjust to the intricacies of the country's telephone service. If not, calls they make may not reach their designated party, or may be directed to an incorrect phone number. Here are a few things to consider.

The implementation of American phone numbers is created under the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). The ten digit number consists of a three digit area code, a three digit Central Office number, and the unique four digit Subscriber number. Area codes are normally localized to an entire state. However, larger states, and the cities within, can have multiple area codes. For example, the state of Delaware has one area code, but New York has 15 - many of them for just the New York City area.

In many cases, if calling from one number to another within the same area code, only the combination of Central Office and Subscriber Numbers is needed. In states with multiple area codes, the code is needed to dial between zones. In addition, the long distance code '1' needs to precede the area code. The same code is used when dialing from state to state.

For those who have never visited Canada before, some basic information regarding telephone usage will help the traveler become more adjusted to the country.

As with other countries, Canada requires you to dial seven digits when calling someone locally. If you are calling from a hotel room, you shouldn't be charged for dialing a local number.

If you wish to dial a number outside of the local calling area, you need to dial a 1, then the three digit area code and finally the seven digit number. If you are calling from your hotel room, you will likely be charged for this type of call on a per-minute basis.

For international calls, you need to dial 011, the country code and then the phone. The only exception to this rule is when you want to call the United States. When calling the United States, you would use the domestic calling procedure. First, dial a 1, then the area code and finally the seven digit number. Callers must use this procedure when calling the United States because both numbers use the same country code.

For emergency purposes, you should always dial 911. This number is to be used in instances where you need the police, an ambulance or the fire department.

Currency Information

United States
If you're visiting the US, chances are fairly good that you don't exactly have the local currency on you, or even know how the local currency works. American Dollars, or USD, are fairly straightforward, as far as currency goes. There are one hundred cents to the dollar. Cents all come in coin form and come in pennies (one cent), nickels (five cents), dimes (ten cents), quarters (twenty-five cents), and the rare half-dollar coin(fifty cents). Dollars all come in bills(save for the rare dollar coin) and come in ones, fives, tens, twenties, fifties, and hundreds. There are larger bills, but chances are you most likely won't be dealing with them.

Most international airports will accept Euros, British Pounds, Canadian/Australian Dollars, Japanese Yen, and the Mexican Peso, alongside other currencies. Current exchange rates can all be found with a quick google search using words such as 'Euro to Dollar exchange rate', but substituting the currency you have with Euro, but keep in mind that airports will charge you a transaction fee for swapping currency. Credit cards that are used internationally, such as Visa and MasterCard, should also allow you to withdraw money in USD from an ATM in the US, but again, there may be a transaction charge.

Background Information About Canada's Currency:
Canada's official currency is the Canadian dollar. It is a decimal-based currency that is divided into 100 cents. The Bank of Canada issues banknotes and coins that are used in circulation as official representations of this currency.

Background Information About Canada's Banknotes:
Canada currently issues banknotes that feature a face value of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. These banknotes feature text that is printed in English and French. Moreover, each banknote features uniquely colored plastic polymers and raised braille numerals that help people located specific denominations quickly.

Some travelers might encounter banknotes that feature a face value of $1 or $2. These notes were issued prior to 1986. They are legal tender for all transactions valued under $5. Travelers may exchange these banknotes for $1 and $2 coins at any Bank of Canada banking facility.

Background Information about Canada's Coins:
The Royal Canadian Mint currently issues coins that feature a face value of 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, $1 and $2. Each of these coins features an obverse portrait of Great Britain's current monarch. They also feature various reverse designs that honor Canada's diverse wildlife. Be sure to take a look at Canada's $1 coin to see why Canada's coins have won many design awards from leading numismatic organizations.

Customs Information

United States
Foreign travelers entering the United States are required to present a valid passport issued by their home country and a Visa issued by a United States Consular Official. Exemptions to this requirement are citizens of Canada and citizens of countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Most countries in Western Europe are part of this program, along with the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and Brunei.

Under the Visa Waiver Program, foreign nationals entering the United States are allow to stay 90 days without a via for purposes such as leisure, medical purposes or business. Individuals entering the United States must arrive on an approved carrier such as an airline or ocean liner. Foreign nationals who intend to stay longer than 90 days or who are citizens of countries not in the program must obtain the proper visa before leaving their home country. Travelers from some countries may also be required to present passports that are valid for at least six months beyond their intended length of stay.

All individuals entering the United States are subject to inspection and questioning at border control areas and ports of entry.

When entering Canada, the most important thing for all visitors to remember no matter what their country of origin is they must have proper identification. For the most part, this means having a passport, but travelers should also have another form of identification such as a driver's license or government-issued identification card that confirms individual names and residences for all travelling adults and accompanying children.

All travelers coming into the country are required to present themselves to border control agents for questioning. Individuals arriving by air are required to complete a CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency)declaration card that requires you to detail where you will travel in Canada and what goods you are bringing into the country. Some passengers arriving by other forms of public transportation may also be required to fill out this card.

Visitors to Canada are also allowed to bring in minor amounts of alcohol and tobacco for their own use without paying any duty taxes. Money in the amount of $10,000 Canadian, or its foreign equivalent, may be brought in. Restricted and prohibited goods include firearms and weapons and explosives and firearms. All foods must be declared and some consumer products may be subject to scrutiny.

Visa Information

United States
Citizens of another country are required to obtain a visa prior to entering the United States for a visit. There are different types of visas required depending on the reason for the visit. For example, a B-1 visa is for business visitors and a B-2 is pleasure, medical treatment and tourism. Other types of visas include student and nonimmigrant Media(I) visas. Media visas are issued specifically for journalists, radio, film and other media related visitors.

All visa applicants must apply at the consulate or U.S. Embassy that has jurisdiction in their place of residence. Applicants will be required to show the reason for their visit to the United States, show that arrangements have been made to pay for the trip and show their intent to leave the U.S. If an applicant cannot show that they can support themselves while in the U.S., they must submit convincing evidence that someone else, such as an employer, will pay their support.

Every applicant for a visa must meet basic requirements including completion of the application form, a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months past the intended visit date, and a 2x2 photograph. Applicants are also required to pay a visa application fee.

Once a visa has been obtained, the visitor will be allowed to travel to the United States and request permission to enter from the U.S. immigration inspector.

For many nationalities and country natives it is unnecessary to obtain a visa if visiting Canada. Before applying for a visa for Canada first verify if you are required to obtain one or if your nationality is exempt from having to get one. If you are required to have a visa before entering Canada, you will need to first apply to see if you are eligible for a Visa. You can apply either in Canada or online, if you are currently residing in Canada because you were given a work permit or student visa then you can reapply for a visitor visa within Canada if your permit/visa is almost expired.

Once you receive the application package then you will need to fill out the required information and process the application as well as pay the application fees that apply. Once submitting your application you will need to wait a processing period before being notified if you are eligible for a visa. Online applications are generally a short processing waiting time then the standard paper application. You will be notified whether or not you are eligible for a Canadian visa, if so you will need to adhere to the allotted time the visa permits you for visiting Canada.

Emergency Information

United States
The United States is filled with many wonderful places to visit and a variety of activities to experience. Before you arrive in the United States, it is important to understand what you should do if the unexpected occurs. No one plans to have an emergency arise during their trip, but you cannot control everything during your trip.

Although the federal government of the United States provides basic guidelines and regulations regarding emergency services, the processes and procedures vary by state. No matter where in the United States you are visiting, there is one important thing to remember. You can call 911 from any phone at any time to receive access to emergency services.

When you call 911, you need to provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible regarding your situation. The dispatcher will ask for your location, and he will also ask questions to try determine the severity of the situation. If possible, remain on the line with the 911 dispatcher until help arrives.

The emergency dispatcher will send the police, firefighters, paramedics or other emergency personnel depending on your situation. If transport to a hospital is needed, it will be provided via ambulance to the nearest health care facility.

Canada has a national response policy to help individuals in emergency situations whether or not they are Canadian citizens. The Government Operations Centre is at the heart of all emergency response in the country. Canada also has a network of 11 regional offices and two satellite centres to help with any local emergency response.

For most areas in Canada, individuals need only dial 911, the same as in the United States, to reach emergency services and obtain help. Some areas, however, have dedicated nine- or ten-digit numbers for emergency services. When traveling in Canada, make sure you know what number to use for emergency services.

Response to emergencies in Canada occurs first on a local level via hospitals, police and fire departments, and municipalities. If these agencies need additional help, they can request help on a regional level from the province or territory in which the problem has occurred.

Canada also has an Urban Search and Rescue program to rescue people from major building collapse and other entrapments. The program uses trained dogs, electronic search and heavy construction equipment to locate and free trapped individuals, then assesses victims and transports them for appropriate medical treatment.