International travel can be overwhelming for first time travelers. One of the more complicated steps in planning an international trip is making sure your cellphone and other devices will work in the country you’re travelling to. In Canada, you’ve got a modern cellphone infrastructure that’s very similar to that used in the United States so it’s not as difficult as it might be in say, Asia or Africa. But will your US cell phone work in Canada? It’s not always clear cut but we’ll give you the information below to make an informed decision on how to get it done.
Getting Your Phone to Work in Canada is Mostly About Hardware
The biggest hurdle to getting your cell phone to work in Canada is actually your phone itself. If it’s older than a handful of years old chances are, it won’t work in Canada because the technology used has changed in that time both in the US and Canada. Newer phones that pitch themselves as “world phones” are likely good to go and you’re almost certainly on a 4G phone at this point. Luckily each major carrier has a tool that will instantly tell you whether your phone will work in Canada with their services. Rates and fees apply differently for each carrier so let’s go through them briefly and you can be on your way to booking that trip to Canada as soon as you check the weather.
List of Phones That Will Work in Canada
This is not a comprehensive list of phones that will work for sure in Canada but if you have any of the following newer phones you’ll be set as far as hardware:
- iPhone 9
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 6
- Samsung Galaxy 8
- Samsung Galaxy 7
Canadian Rates & Availability Vary by US Carrier
Verizon has a tool that lets you know whether your cell phone will work in Canada and what price you’ll be paying to do so. It will likely cost a bit more each day to use your Verizon phone in Canada. We did a test with our personal cell phones and were told that it would cost about $5 per day for the smallest plan and usage in Canada. But the good news is that your phone will likely work and Verizon has great coverage.
Sprint also has a great tool for finding out whether your specific model of phone will work in Canada. Most populated areas on their Canadian coverage map seem to have Sprint available so you’re probably good to go as long as you have a phone that’s capable of using 4GLTE. Check out their tool to be sure:
AT&T includes free international coverage for areas including Canada for all of their Unlimited and Select Plans. For other plans you’ll have to give them a call and set something up and/or pay additional fees. Your phone also needs to be equipped with the latest 4GLTE technology. Luckily they also have a tool for figuring out which phones will work in Canada as well.
T-mobile might have the best Canadian policy with their phones. It’s free for everyone! Of course, the coverage may be worse than the bigger carriers like Verizon and Sprint but we haven’t independently confirmed as much. Their coverage maps seem comparable to other US carriers in Canada. You’ll still need a phone capable of world travel such as the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. Here’s T-Mobile’s guide to travel in Canada with your phone:
Always Call Your Carrier Before Traveling to Canada
Though we’ll try our best to keep this list up to date, all of the above is subject to change at any time. It would behoove you to call your carrier and ask them what the best plan of action is for you, your phone and your coverage when travelling to Canada. The above should give you some peace of mind, though that if you have a modern phone and one of the five major carriers you’re likely set for Canadian cell phone coverage.