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International Patient Program
International Patient Program

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who/What is an International Patient at SickKids?

Your child is an International Patient if he/she is under 18 years of age and:

  • Is the citizen of another country and permanently lives outside of Canada, and has travelled to Toronto for the purposes of receiving treatment at SickKids and who intends to return to their country of origin once the treatment is complete;
  • OR
  • Is a citizen of another country, and permanently lives outside of Canada, but is visiting/vacationing in the Toronto area and is hospitalized following an emergency situation and will return to their country of origin after treatment is complete;
  • OR
  • Is a Canadian citizen living permanently in another country, who is visiting the Toronto area and is hospitalized following an emergency situation, and who intends to return to their permanent place of residence after treatment is completed;
  • OR
  • Is a Canadian citizen living permanently in another country, and who is visiting Canada for medical treatment only, and who will then be returning to their permanent place of residence after treatment is completed;
  • OR
  • Is the child of a person who is studying in Canada on a student visa;
  • OR
  • Is the child of a diplomat or foreigner working in Canada on contract or a working permit or VISA


2. Who is not considered an International Patient?

Your child is not an International Patient if he/she is 18 years of age or older, OR is a:

  • Non-Canadian person permanently living in Ontario, who does not have OHIP coverage, cannot provide proof of landed immigrant status and who does not wish to return to their home country. Please note you must be able to provide government documentation regarding application for landed status, refugee status or similar to be considered for eligible status;
  • Person who states they will permanently reside in Canada, or will re-establish residency in Canada, and will not return to their current country of residence after treatment is completed. Valid documentation regarding proof of their landed immigrant status/citizenship is required;
  • Person who has applied for landed immigrant status after arriving in Canada. You must be able to provide valid documentation of landed immigrant status; or
  • Refugee claimant awaiting Interim Federal Health Coverage. You must provide a copy of your completed IFHC application.


3. What are the criteria for acceptance for treatment at SickKids as an International Patient?

The guidelines for acceptance of international patients for treatment at SickKids are very strict and are set out by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

SickKids may only accept those foreign children under the age of 18 years, who require non-emergency, highly specialized treatment which is not available in their home country or region.

SickKids cannot accept:

  • Children requiring emergency or urgent care;
  • Children with highly complex, multi-specialty medical conditions;
  • Children who require long term ongoing care or chronic rehabilitation; or
  • Children who could be treated in their home country or region at a comparable level to that provided by SickKids.

To review our full eligibility criteria, please click here.


4. How do I know if I am eligible for the program?

The International Patient Program office processes applications for non-emergency international patients who are non-Canadian, or for Canadian citizens permanently living abroad and who do not have OHIP coverage.

To review our full eligibility criteria, please click here.


5. I have an inquiry. What do I do?

If you have questions about whether you child is eligible for treatment at SickKids, please click here and complete the attached form. Alternatively, you may contact us via email at international.patientprogram@sickkids.ca, by fax at 1-416-813-8667 or phone at 1-416-813-7680, and our International Intake Coordinators can assist you with next steps.


6. How do I apply to SickKids for treatment for my child?

In order to apply for assessment and treatment at SickKids, you and your child's home doctor must complete an International Patient Program application form in full and in English. Parents/guardians must complete Sections A-F, and your child's referring doctor must complete Sections G-K. Depending on your child's condition, we may ask you/your child's doctor for additional information.

Please click here to go to the International Patient Program Application.


7. Is my child accepted for treatment at SickKids once I complete the application form?

No. Completion of the application form is only the first step in the application process. Once the properly completed application form and all supporting medical documentation is received by the International Patient Program office, the appropriate SickKids medical experts will review the application and medical information to determine whether SickKids can provide the care requested. Once this is determined, a treatment plan will then be developed, and an Intake Coordinator from the International Patient Program office will then contact you with the treatment plan and a cost estimate.


8. What is the process to be accepted at SickKids?

Please click here to view the process and access the application and referral forms.


9. How long does it take for my application to be reviewed?

Assuming that the application is properly completed in full and in English, and is accompanied by the required medical information, the International Patient Program aims to have your application reviewed within seven to 10 North American business days. Note that each application is individually reviewed by the appropriate SickKids medical experts, and therefore the time frame for review may vary if more than one SickKids doctor is needed to review your application. The International Patient Program office will be in contact with you with a decision once your application has been reviewed by the Medical Team.


10. What happens if my application is not complete?

If your application is not completed in full and in English, or is missing supporting medical documentation, the International Patient Program office will notify you or your child's referring doctor to request any missing information. Incomplete forms will not be processed by the International Patient Program office until all required information is received, which in turn will delay your application being reviewed by the appropriate SickKids medical team.


11. Can I complete the application in my native language?

No. All documents provided to the International Patient Program office must be in English. You are also responsible for ensuring that medical documents are translated into English by a certified medical translator.


12. What is the cost of treatment? How and when do I need to pay?

Once your child has been accepted for an assessment, medical or surgical care, medical second opinion or telehealth consultation at SickKids, the International Patient Program will develop a cost estimate based on the treatment plan proposed by the SickKids medical expert team, which will then be forwarded to you.

Please note that health care in Ontario and Canada is not free. Patients who are non-residents of Canada must pay for all treatment received at SickKids. This can be in the form of private health insurance, self-pay, or through a guarantee of payment by your government or embassy.

Once accepted for care (including treatment, consultation, assessment or surgery) at SickKids, you must make arrangements to pay the amount of your estimate in full before we can arrange any service, appointments or tests at SickKids.

Acceptable arrangements for payment include:

  1. A letter of guarantee from your insurance company, embassy or government for the full amount of the proposed treatment; or
  2. Full payment using a credit card or a bank draft funds.

Note that in the event that your child arrives at SickKids in a condition that is different from the condition originally described to the SickKids expert team, and requires changes to the treatment plan or additional treatment, there will be additional costs associated with these changes. You will be given updated invoices that will include the new or additional costs and fees.

In addition, if the child experiences unexpected complications in the course of treatment while at SickKids, or if an alternative course of treatment is recommended by SickKids' doctors that is considered to be medically necessary, there may be additional charges for the required/recommended services. You will be informed of this additional treatment, and an invoice for all additional costs will be sent to you for immediate payment or guarantee of payment.


13. Why does the International Patient Program need my financial information?

When an international patient referral comes through the International Patient Program office, we must gather information on a large number of medical and non-medical factors, one of which is the potential means of payment.

Canadian citizens who permanently live abroad, or have been abroad for greater than 181 days, and who are not planning to permanently live in Ontario immediately following treatment at SickKids, are not eligible for health care coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP). Therefore, we must validate the potential means of payment for assessment/treatment as part of our due diligence.

For those international patients who have medical insurance to cover the costs of international treatment, this due diligence is simply obtaining the name of the insurance company, the policy number, and the amount of the policy in question, and a letter or guarantee of payment from the insurance company when the patient is accepted at SickKids, and before the patient is admitted.

For those international patients/parents who have indicated that they will self-pay to cover treatment, due diligence requires that we understand the source of the self-funding, which usually means the income of the parents. This is not to pry into personal financial matters, but to ensure that the cost of treatment at SickKids will not negatively impact the long-term financial stability of the family as a whole, due to the financial burden that may be incurred as a result of the cost of treatment at SickKids. In addition, self-pay requires a one hundred per cent pre-payment of the treatment/assessment costs to SickKids before any treatment is scheduled and the patient is able to be admitted.

Please note that any financial information gathered is held in the strictest confidence within our International Patient Program office.


14. Will I/my child require a Visa to come to Canada?

Yes. If you are coming to SickKids for treatment, you will need to apply for a Visitor's Visa from Immigration Canada. Information on the visa application process can be found at Immigration Canada for a Visitor's Visa .

The International Patient Program can provide you with a letter to support the Visa application for the child and one parent/guardian only. The letter will indicate that your child will be receiving treatment at SickKids for their condition, the estimated cost of the treatment, that payment has been made or guaranteed and the estimated duration of the treatment at SickKids.

Note: It is not the responsibility of the International Patient Program office to apply for a visitor visa on your behalf. As well, the International Patient Program will not advocate on behalf of a patient's family who may be having difficulties or delays in obtaining their visitor visa.


15. Will the International Patient Program office book all of my appointments?

No. Your medical appointments will be booked directly by the clinical division providing the service. The clinical division will communicate with you directly and provide the appointment dates, times and location(s).


16. Where can I stay during my visit to SickKids?

There are many hotels and furnished apartments located within walking distance to SickKids. The International Patient Program office can provide a list of accommodation options on request. Note, however, that the International Patient Program office will not book accommodations on behalf of patients and families.


17. Do I need Travel Insurance if I/my family are travelling to Canada?

Yes, valid travel health insurance for both the patient and accompanying family members is required by Immigration Canada in order to enter Canada. Note, you may be asked by Immigration Canada officials for verification of travel health insurance when you arrive in Canada. Failure to produce evidence of travel health insurance may prevent your entry into Canada.


18. What airports are close to SickKids?

Toronto Pearson International Airport services the Greater Toronto Area. Most major international airlines have service into Pearson International, often on a daily basis. As the International Patient Program does not make airline bookings on behalf of international patients, you should speak with your own travel agent to determine the best route for your travel to Toronto.


19. I've never been to Toronto, what is there to do in/around the city?

There are many fun and interesting things to see and do in the city, including: art galleries, museums, concerts, Harbourfront (along Lake Ontario), the CN tower, the Science Centre, Toronto Zoo and great resturants. Below are several links to attractions, tours in and around Toronto.