Travelling to Banff
Getting to Banff
Where is Banff?
The town of Banff, Alberta, is located just off the Trans-Canada Highway, 130 kilometres or 80 miles west of the city of Calgary, Alberta, and lies within Banff National Park. Banff's time zone is Mountain Time. For more information about Banff, visit banff.ca.
Airport and Shuttle Service
A two-hour drive away, the Calgary International Airport is the closest airport to Banff. The Calgary International Airport maintains a website with up-to-date information on transportation and accommodation information. Visit: calgaryairport.com.
The Banff Airporter is the official airport shuttle provider of Banff Centre. The trip to Calgary is approximately two hours and you will be dropped off at the Professional Development Centre (PDC), where the Front Desk is located. The Banff Airporter will drop practicum program participants off at RMHC, if that is their residence. The Banff Airporter proudly supports our visiting participants with a generous discount for round-trip bookings. A discount code will be provided to you by the Office of the Registrar at the time of confirmation of acceptance.
Phone: 403.762.3330 or 1.888.449.2901 (toll-free within North America) or visit banffairporter.com.
Brewster Travel Canada offers daily motor coach shuttles to Banff from the Calgary International Airport. Reservations are required. Visit: explorerockies.com/airport-shuttles.
Greyhound Canada schedules several bus trips each day between Calgary and Banff. For current prices and schedules, contact 1.800.661.8747 (toll-free within Canada), 403.762.1092 (local), or visit: greyhound.ca.
Banff bus stations are each about a five-minute drive from Banff Centre. A taxi costs approximately $9. Call Taxi Taxi at 403.762.0000
Please note there is no public transit between the town of Banff and Banff Centre; however, the Roam public transit bus system offers two bus routes through Banff and to Canmore. The Town of Banff has Canada's first all-hybrid bio-diesel/electric bus fleet. Visit roamtransit.com for more information.
Travel Cuts Discounts
Arts participants may be eligible for discounted travel through Travel Cuts offices found in most universities around the world.
To quality, obtain an International Student Identification Card (ISIC) at any Travel Cuts office. To be eligible for an ISIC card, you must be enrolled in a full-time program for a minimum of three months and have documentation to prove it (an acceptance letter from the Office of the Registrar or a valid student ID card is acceptable).
Check with your Travel Cuts office directly for more information. The closest office to Banff is located at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta at 1.866.667.CUTS or 1.866.416.2887 or visit travelcuts.com
Non-Canadians bringing their car into Canada for more than 90 days must register the vehicle with Canada Customs. You will need your vehicle registration, certificate of ownership, and your letter of acceptance from the Office of the Registrar.
International participants do not need to apply for an international driving permit if you already have a valid driver's license from your home country. Contact your insurance provider for more information.
Banff National Park Pass
All vehicles within Banff National Park are required to display a valid Park Pass. Those participants driving their own vehicles to Banff Centre are eligible for a complimentary Banff National Park Pass for the duration of their program. For this reason, DO NOT STOP AT THE PARK GATES. Drive through the far right-hand lane and proceed to Banff Centre. If you stop at the gates, a non-refundable entry and service fee will be charged and a Park Pass issued.
If you are staying in Banff for 29 days or less, you will be issued a Work Purposes Only pass (access limited to the Banff town-site). If you are staying in Banff for 30 days or longer, you will be issued a Resident Pass (full Banff National Park access).
To obtain your Park Pass, please present your Banff Centre ID card to the Participant Resources office upon arrival. We require your license plate number for the non-transferable Park Pass.
Please note: If you are driving a rental car or are arriving by charter bus you will be required to purchase your own park pass.
Bringing/Shipping Goods and Equipment to Canada
Travelling with Musical Instruments
Most small musical instruments may be carried on-board an aircraft in addition to one carry-on. Remember that all items must conform to existing carry-on size requirements and will only be allowed if they can be safely stowed in an overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. Following this guideline will aid you at the passenger security screening area.
If an instrument is too large to fit in the carry-on baggage space and you wish to have it on board with you, most airlines will allow you to purchase an additional seat for the instrument.
If you are required to check your instrument as cargo, ask the airline about liability. Musical instruments are considered a fragile item. Fragile items will be accepted as checked baggage if they are appropriately packaged in a container/case designed for shipping.
Before making arrangements to travel with an instrument, make sure you are aware of any customs regulations that may affect transportation of any country you are travelling to, from, or transiting through.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has ordered strict enforcement procedures related to the Endangered Species Act and the African Elephant Conservation Act. According to the order, many instruments containing African elephant ivory will not be allowed into the U.S., even if a musician is simply returning to the U.S. with instruments from their personal possession or collection, not intended for sale.
Most of these musical instruments, while legally manufactured and acquired, would have been purchased after 1976, and will now be prohibited from entering into the U.S.
Other instruments that have not been sold since 1976 may be missing key documentation.
Enforcement of this policy at U.S. borders is uncertain, it could occur at any time. Do email questions to the Division of Management Authority at U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the website for a permit as needed: fws.gov/international/permits/by-activity/musical-instruments.
Banff Centre is not responsible for, nor is able to, provide specific customs information.
It is strongly recommended that you insure your instrument.
Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA)
You can find customs information online at: cbsa-asfc.gc.ca. You may telephone CBSA from outside Canada at 204.983.3500 or 1.800.461.9999 (toll-free within Canada). Submit your questions directly to CBSA-ASFC@canada.gc.ca. It may take up to 30 days for a reply. You may also contact the Canadian Embassy or the consulate in your country.
What documentation do I need when bringing/shipping goods into Canada?
You should have an itemized list (in duplicate) of what you are bringing, showing the value of each item and a serial/catalogue number if it has one. Bring a copy of your Banff Centre acceptance letter to show the customs agent. If you are shipping goods, your courier or customs broker will assist you with the required paperwork.
Are there goods that I cannot bring/ship into Canada?
Yes. Check with your courier or customs broker before shipping personal effects, alcoholic beverages, textiles, tobacco, certain health products, cultural property, furs, perishables, jewellery, precious metals and stones, or ivory.
Do not ship prescription drugs; bring these with you. Prescription drugs should be in the original packaging that identifies what they are. If this is not possible, carry a copy of the prescription or a personalized letter from your doctor.
Hazardous materials such as paints and solvents may be prohibited or restricted. Please contact your program coordinator for information on obtaining art supplies in Canada.
Is it better to bring supplies with me than buy them in Canada?
Not necessarily. The duty and tax payable at the border could significantly increase the cost of these supplies. Be prepared to pay tax and duty on consumables like ink, paper, and paints. If you are not sure whether the supplies you need are available in Canada, contact your program coordinator for assistance.
Is it better to hand carry my personal goods rather than ship them?
Yes, it is much easier (and less costly) to clear your personal goods through customs if you bring them with you. If you are arriving by plane, check with your airline about charges for excess luggage. If you are shipping additional items, list these separately on your Customs Declaration as "Goods to Follow". State clearly that the goods are for your own use while in Canada and they will leave Canada on a specific date. Before departure to Canada, register your goods with customs in your home country so you are not charged duty and tax when bringing or shipping them back.
How do I arrange for my shipped goods to clear Canada Customs?
Most major couriers (i.e. Federal Express, UPS, and DHL) are able to act as your customs broker, preparing the tax and duty for the shipment on your behalf. Tell the courier your shipment must be marked "Free Domicile" or "DDP" (delivered duty paid), which means you have paid for all the customs and transportation charges. Unless shipping charges and customs charges are prepaid, the Banff Centre will not accept delivery of the shipment.
Will I have to pay Canadian taxes and duty?
Normally, yes. If your shipment has a value of $20 CAD or more, it is subject to Canada's 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) plus any applicable duty. You will also have to pay a customs broker to clear your shipment into Canada. By declaring your goods as "personal goods for my own use while in Canada - to be exported when I leave Canada" you can avoid paying Canadian tax and duty. However, in most cases, you will have to appear in person at Canada Customs to sign a customs release form to get this personal exemption.
How should I address my shipment?
Due do Customs legislation and liability concerns, Banff Centre will only accept personal shipments that are addressed as follows:
c/o Banff Centre
Facilitator Name, Department
Box 1020, 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff, Alberta T1L 1H5
Practicum participants living at the Rocky Mountain Housing Co-op (RMHC) should always ship to Banff Centre directly, not to the RMHC.
Getting your money to Banff
Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are commonly accepted. Please contact your bank to confirm you can use your credit card in Canada and inform them you will be using your card while out of the country.
Automated Teller Machine (ATM): ATMs are available at kiosks and banks in downtown Banff and there are two located on-site, one in the Kinnear Centre for Creativity and Innovation and the other in the Professional Development Centre. These ATMs are for withdrawals only to card holders who have access to the following networks: Interac, Cirrus, MasterCard, and Amex. There is a service charge (in addition to your bank's service charge) for using these machines.
Wiring Money: Please speak with your financial institution at home prior to your arrival for information regarding the most efficient procedure to wire money. Contact your bank for further information on the methods available and the time necessary to transfer funds.
Western Union: Offers immediate money transfer services from most countries around the world, for a nominal fee. Contact your local Western Union office or local bank for more information.
Traveller's cheques are also a simple way to bring money with you.
The following are not recommended ways of carrying money into the country: bank drafts, money orders, personal cheques, Eurocheques, or certified cheques, as each of these may involve a hold of up to 30 banking days.
You will find the following banks located in Banff: Alberta Treasury Branch, Bow Valley Credit Union, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and Bank of Montreal (BMO). Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has two automated teller machines in Banff. RBC, TD Canada Trust, and Scotiabank have branches in the nearby town of Canmore.
The Town of Banff
Located in the Bow Valley, the town of Banff sits at an elevation of 1,383 metres (4,537 feet), making it the highest town in Canada. Banff offers all basic services, including grocery outlets, hospital, RCMP detachments, post office, public library, churches of several denominations, and municipal government offices.
Banff is less than four square kilometers in size and surrounded by mountain parkland and wilderness. The community really does share its space with the wildlife. Elk, sheep, and bear sightings are not uncommon near this town filled with trees, parks, and trails.
Banff is one of only two incorporated municipalities located within a Canadian national park. In keeping with this special role, great efforts are taken to foster an appreciation and respect for nature and mountain culture, and to meet the responsibilities of being a national park community. The Banff National Park Management Plan is a guiding document for the Town of Banff. For more information, visit the Town of Banff website.
For up-to-date weather forecasts, visit Environment Canada's weather service.
Summer (July-August): The summer season usually has low humidity, warm temperatures, and daylight hours lasting until 11 p.m. at the height of summer. Average highs are about 21°C (70°F) with night-time lows around 7°C (45°F).
Autumn (September-October): Fall sees diminishing daylight hours and warm days, with cooling evening winds. Average temperatures drop, but the highs remain well above freezing and lows hover right around the freezing point.
Winter (November-March): Although it can and does snow at any time of the year, the first "real" snow generally begins to fall in November. The average temperature during the winter months is around -12°C (6°F); however, it is not unusual to have a two-week cold snap during December or January where temperatures plummet below -30°C (-22°F). Fortunately, Banff, the National Park, and areas west and south, regularly enjoy a pleasant winter phenomenon called a Chinook. The warm winds of the Chinook produce spring-like temperatures in a matter of hours, and the moderating influence can last for days or even weeks.
Spring (April-June): Rain and warming temperatures begin to melt winter away from the valleys in April, however, the high mountain passes and trails remain snow-covered until mid-summer. June is Banff's rainiest month; this combined with snowmelt pushes the rivers to their crests.
UV Rating: The UV rating for Banff and its surrounding area is usually high to extremely high throughout the year. Because of the altitude and the sun's angle of incidence in this section of the world, skin tends to burn much faster than usual. You really should use sunscreen, a shade hat, and sunglasses to avoid sunburn.