Metric Conversion for Visitors to Canada

Metric Conversion: A Guide for Visitors to Canada

Speed limit sign from miles per hour to kilometers per hour in British Columbia, Canada

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Canada has used the metric system of measurement since 1970, which means that temperature is measured in Celsius, distance in kilometers, speed in kilometers per hour, volume in liters, and weight in kilograms. 

You might meet some people born before 1970 who are fluent in both imperial and metric systems, but in Canada, all official signs and products adhere to the metric system. Visitors from the U.S. and other countries that use the imperial system should brush up on these basic metric-to-imperial system conversions.

Temperature 

Use this formula to help you plan for daily weather:

  • Degrees Celsius = Degrees Fahrenheit x 1.8 + 32

For example, if someone tells you it will be a high of 20 degrees Celsius, you could use this formula (20 x 1.8 + 32) to determine that you should dress for a high of 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can refer to common metric temperatures to get a better sense of how temperatures compare in Celsius and Fahrenheit.

Driving Speed

Speed in Canada is measured in kilometers per hour (kph), which means the speed limits use higher numbers and range between 40 and 100 kph. If you're driving an American car, keep in mind that your speedometer uses miles and you will need to know how to convert the common speed limits in Canada, which include:

  • Four-lane highway driving, 100 kph = 62 mph
  • Two-lane highway driving, 80 kph = 50 mph
  • City driving, 50 kph = 37 mph
  • School zones, 40 kph = 25 mph

Distance 

Distance in Canada is measured in meters and kilometers, instead of yards and miles. For distance, the metric system coordinates to the imperial system as such:

  • 1 yard = 0.9 meters
  • 1 mile = 1.6 kilometers

A good way to think about distance is to remember that 5 kilometers equal about 3.1 miles, so if someone tells you that you should make a right in 20 kilometers, you can multiply 3.1 and 4 to get 12.4 miles.

Volume 

Volume is measured in milliliters and liters in Canada, which will be helpful to know should you need to fill up your car at a gas station. Although prices may seem cheaper, remember that they are counting by the liter, which is a smaller volume than a gallon. Make yourself familiar with these common metric volumes:

  • 1 ounce = 30 milliliters
  • 1 gallon = 3.8 liters

For example, if your tank can hold 10 gallons of gas, that converts into about 38 liters. Another way to get a better grasp of the conversion is to think about the size difference between a 1-liter bottle of soda and a gallon of milk.

Weight

Weight in Canada is measured in grams and kilograms, although pounds and ounces are still commonly used for certain weight measurements. You can refer to these common metric weights and conversions:

  • 1 oz = 28 grams
  • 1 lb = 0.45 kilograms

When converting pounds to kilograms, the most important number to remember is 45. Since 10 pounds is about 4.5 kilograms and 100 pounds is about 45 kilograms, you can simply move the decimal point to get a better sense of the conversion. For example, if someone tells you your luggage can weigh no more than 20 kilograms, you can divide 20 by 4.5 to get 4.4. Multiply that by 10 and you'll get 44, which is what the weight limit would equal in pounds.

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