How do I use the phone system?

Depending on your needs, you may want to get a home phone service (landline), get a cell phone or use public phones.

Home Phone Service (Landline)

Bell Canada and Rogers are the 2 major home telephone providers, however many companies provide similar services. Search for telephone providers online.

Usually, you pay a standard monthly fee for the line and pay extra for long-distance calls (calls outside of your local area). Most companies have long-distance plans.

You might want to buy a bundle, in which a single company provides many services, such as telephone, television and internet. It can be cheaper to get all of these services from 1 company.

Contact different companies to discuss their plans and rates. Bell and Rogers also have stores where you can talk to a customer service representative in person. You can find numbers and addresses online.

If you have never had a telephone line in Canada in your name before, you may be asked to make a deposit and name a guarantor (a person who will be responsible for paying your bills in case you don't pay them).

Long-Distance Plans

Most telephone companies have long-distance plans. Prepaid phone cards can be an inexpensive alternative to a long-distance plan.

To make a long-distance call to a different country, dial "011" followed by the country code and the number. You can also dial "0" and ask the operator to help you.

Some long-distance numbers are called toll-free numbers. There is no charge if you call one of these numbers. They start with the numbers 1-800, 1-844, 1-855, 1-866, 1-877 or 1-888. Government offices, community agencies and many businesses have toll-free numbers.

1-900 numbers are not toll-free and you are charged by the minute.

Public Telephones

You will find public telephones (pay phones) in the airport, bus and train stations, some restaurants and stores, and on some street corners.

A local call costs 50¢. Most pay phones accept 5¢, 10¢, 25¢ and $1 coins, and many accept pre-paid calling cards and credit cards.

A long-distance call can be expensive from a pay phone. Once you dial the number, a voice prompt will tell you the rate per minute. You may wish to use a prepaid phone card to make it cheaper.

You can also make a collect call, where the person you are calling will be charged for the call. Dial "0" and ask the operator to help you make a collect call.

Cell Phones

Cell (mobile) phones are very popular in Canada. There are many plans to choose from.

Compare cell phone plans, costs, companies and types of phones before you sign a contract.

For More Information

  • Canadian Area Code Map – See a map of telephone area codes in Canada.
  • National "Do Not Call" List - If you register with this list, most business are not allowed to call you at home to sell products and services.
  • Consumer Beware List - This is a list of businesses that consumers have complained about to the Ministry. You can search for businesses by name or service type. It provides details on the nature of the complaint and if any charges were laid.
  • Common Consumer Questions - Information about returns, refunds, deposits, warranties and more. From Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
Last updated: June 12, 2023 4000261