About Ottawa

Canada’s capital city provides a veritable showcase of Canadian culture. From the nation’s Parliament to its world-class museums and galleries, Ottawa is home to some of the country’s most important treasures.

Ottawa, Ontario, and Gatineau, Québec, together form the National Capital Region, which has a multicultural population of about 1.3 million people situated on either side of the majestic Ottawa River. It is common to hear people speaking both of Canada’s official languages — English and French — throughout the area.

For the ease of delegates, conference activities and accommodation will be centred in Ottawa’s lively and safe downtown core. Easy access to entertainment, shopping centres and open-air markets, recreation and culture will help create once-in-a-lifetime experiences for visitors.

Visit Ottawa Tourism for more information.

Did you know?

  • Ottawa has more scientists, engineers and PhDs per capita than any other city in Canada.
  • Ottawa is the seventh coldest capital city in the world.
  • The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in the winter becomes the world’s largest skating rink.
  • Ottawa is a multilingual city. Approximately 50 percent of people speak English as their first language, 32 percent French and the rest a mix of other languages including Chinese, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
  • According to Forbes, Ottawa is the fourth cleanest city out of 300 major cities around the world.
  • Nearly half the city’s population is under the age of 35, making it one of the youngest cities in the country.

Travel tips

Passports and visas
Check with a Canadian high commission, embassy, consulate or travel agent to find out what documents are required to enter Canada. Visit the website of Canada Border Services Agency for a list of countries and territories whose citizens require a visa to enter Canada as visitors.

Be sure to review the new entry requirements regarding Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTAs) for visa-exempt foreign nationals.

Create a letter of invitation for your travel VISA application.

Travel visa letter

Submission of applications
Canada does not have a visa office in every country so it is important that delegates visit the website of the Canadian visa office responsible for processing their visa application. Information is available on the website for how to submit a visa application and the documentation required.

Processing times for visa applications vary depending on the visa office and the time of year. Participants are encouraged to apply approximately 12 weeks in advance of their departure date to ensure they receive the visa in time.

There are two methods by which you can apply for a visa

Electronic applications (e-Apps) Submission at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)
(in-person or by mail)
  • This system allows clients to submit applications online.
  • Delegates who choose to apply online will not have to submit their passport until requested to do so by a visa officer.
  • The visa office will send the applicant instructions on how and where to send their passports to finalize the visa process.
  • VACs are commercial service providers authorized by Canada to provide specific services to applicants.
  • VACs provide a number of services to clients, including helping applicants fill out forms, answer questions and ensure that applications are complete.
  • These services can reduce unnecessary delays or refusals due to incomplete applications.
  • VACs serve as a collection point for applicants required to provide biometrics.
  • VACs send applications to visa offices and transmit decisions to applicants in a secure and confidential manner.
  • VACs do not process visa applications and have no decision making authority.

Depending on your nationality, you may be required to give your biometrics.

  • Starting July 31, 2018, the biometric requirement becomes mandatory for nationals of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
  • Starting December 31, 2018, the biometric requirement becomes mandatory for nationals of Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

For additional information on whether or not you require a biometric, please refer to the fast facts about Biometrics.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
As of November 10, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada. Exceptions include U.S. citizens, and travellers with a valid Canadian visa. Canadian citizens (including dual citizens) and Canadian permanent residents are not eligible to apply for an eTA.

A letter of invitation for obtaining travel visas will be available on this website once registration opens.

English and French are the official languages of Canada. Both are widely spoken in Ottawa.

The weather in Ottawa in June can range from an average low of 13°C (55°F) to a high of 23°C (73°F); average rainfall is 80 mm.

Canadian dollar ($)

Canada’s electrical supply and outlets (sockets, wall plugs) are the same as those found in the United States. The electrical supply is 120 Volts and 60 Hertz (cycles per second).

Local transportation
The Shaw Centre, attractions and restaurants are within walking distance of many hotels. Ottawa is very safe for walking. There are two regional bus systems and a new light rail train (LRT). OC Transpo operates the LRT and buses on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River and the Société de Transport de l’Outaouais operates on the Québec side. The LRT runs across the entire city core. Rideau Station is connected to the Shaw Conference Centre. You can transfer between these systems and both offer convenient trip planning tools on their websites.

Distance from airport
The Ottawa International Airport is a 20-minute drive to downtown. A typical cab fare from the airport to downtown hotels would be approximately $30. Visit the airport’s website for information on ground transportation options to and from the airport.