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Canada 2017 Crime & Safety Report: Montreal

Western Hemisphere > Canada; Western Hemisphere > Canada > Montreal

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Consulate General Montreal does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MONTREAL AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Canada-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

There is no evidence that Americans are being targeted directly for criminal activity.

Downtown Montreal experiences a heavier volume of crimes compared to other boroughs primarily due to a higher concentration of transients and habitual drug-users seeking to fund their addictions. The majority of crimes are non-violent (vehicle theft, pickpocketing, shoplifting, prostitution). In addition, aggressive pan-handling has been identified in the vicinity of the Consulate and the downtown area.

Property crimes remain the biggest threat to residents and visitors alike. Criminals tend to gravitate toward vehicles and other personal property. U.S. plated cars are targeted by thieves likely looking for valuables. U.S. passports and other identity documents that have been left inside vehicles are often taken.

Random violence is unusual and is often associated with street gang activity and other forms of organized crime. Canada took measures to ensure public safety related to gangs. Bill C-394 made gang recruitment a federal crime, and conviction results at a minimum sentence of six months to a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Organized crime rings, along with local street gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs, are present in Montreal and are mostly involved in the distribution of illegal narcotics and prostitution. The Montreal Police Service (Service de police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM)) has noted an increase in the use of guns in the commission of crimes. In context, Montreal reported a record low of 23 murders in 2016 (less than 30 homicides/year from 2013-2015).

Use only ATMs in well-illuminated areas that are in public places.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cybersecurity or Internet-related crime issues are similar to those identified in the U.S. Travelers should practice careful Internet usage and guard all financial transactions, particularly when using an unsecure Internet connection.

In December 8, 2016, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) released information pertaining to how Canada is responding to criminal cyberthreats to include new policies related to search warrants, implemented toward curbing activity and mitigating online threats. According to A. Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, Canada is observing a very sophisticated and rapid growth in global cyberthreats. AAG Caldwell explains that the Department of Justice and criminal divisions face various inefficiencies relating to keeping up with changes in technology and the dramatic increase of Warren-proof encryption. Within the past two years, CSIS has enhanced international cooperation with law enforcement partners as an initiative to establish cross border access to data and to better identify and prosecute politically- or financially- motivated independent global cyberactors.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Road conditions in Montreal are similar to those found in larger U.S. cities. Montreal is a tourist-friendly city, and movement throughout Montreal and Quebec province is unrestricted. Travelers should not experience any security-related issues. Right turns on a red light are illegal in Montreal.

Visitors driving in the winter need to be prepared for driving conditions in a northern climate. Extra caution is needed. Even in good weather, the black ice phenomenon and sudden blizzards can occur. The city does an excellent job clearing streets after snowstorms, but drivers can expect 12-hour parking restrictions when plowing will be conducted. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”

Park in areas that are well-illuminated and do not leave anything of value in your vehicle.

Public Transportation Conditions

Public transportation is considered safe and is used regularly by locals and tourists alike. There are many forms of public transportation in Montreal: subways, trains, local buses, ferries, taxi, and shuttle services. 24-hour taxi service is always available through the concierge at a hotel or by calling directly and is a safe way to travel. Taxis from the airport to downtown are set at a fixed rate, but taxis to the airport (and other locations) are metered. Travelers should be prepared to pay cash, as credit card scams by taxi drivers have been reported by local media.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Montreal is served by Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL, Montréal-Trudeau, Montréal-Dorval International Airport), which is located on the island of Montreal, 12.5 miles from downtown Montreal; a drive between the two locations takes about 40 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. The airport adheres to international air safety standards and management of flight operations. Security measures are on par with U.S. airports, and the security personnel are well-trained and effective.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MONTREAL AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There are no known specific terrorist threats directed against official or private U.S. interests in Montreal; however, many groups exist in Canada that have ties to or are sympathetic with well-known international terrorist organizations.

  • In October 2014, there were two ISIS-inspired lone wolf terrorist attacks in Canada. The Canadian government raised its own terror threat level to MEDIUM after these attacks.
    • The first was an attack in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, (outside Montreal) where a local radicalized Quebec man drove over two Canadian soldiers, killing one and severely injuring the other.
    • The second attack took place in Ottawa, Ontario, by another locally radicalized individual who shot and killed a Canadian soldier at the Canadian War Memorial on Parliament Hill.


The call for self-radicalization, whether disseminated on extremist forums, or via the broader approach via social media continues to be a global concern. It is difficult to determine which message will inspire a violent extremist.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MONTREAL AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest 

Demonstrations in Montreal are, for the most part, peaceful; occur frequently during the spring and summer, and are often tied to the government of Quebec’s budget or contract negotiations. In the winter, protests are fairly infrequent due to the cold weather. Demonstrations are usually led by workers unions, specific ethnic groups, or student associations. In the last five years, there have been no violent demonstrations targeting the U.S. Consulate. In 2012, there was a period of daily demonstrations related to rising student tuition rates. These demonstrations typically violated local law and resulted in road blockages and confrontations with local police. Permits are required for demonstrations, and often the SPVM will provide uniformed officers to facilitate the movement of traffic and intervene should a crime be committed.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Severe winter weather can represent a hazard. Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service provides updates about potentially hazardous weather with as much advance notice as possible.

Critical Infrastructure

Public Safety Canada identifies 10 sectors of critical infrastructure (Health, Food, Finance, Water, Information/Communication Technology, Safety, Energy/Utilities, Manufacturing, Government, and Transportation). Canada’s critical infrastructure is massive, geographically dispersed, and owned by many different players mostly within the private sector. Public Safety works with its partners to manage risks and reduce vulnerabilities across these sectors. The National Strategy supports the principle that critical infrastructure roles and activities should be carried out in a responsible manner at all levels of society. Responsibilities for critical infrastructure are shared by federal, provincial, and territorial governments and critical infrastructure owners and operators. Individual Canadians also have a responsibility to be prepared for disruption and ready to cope for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency. Canada and the U.S. share cross border critical infrastructure with movement of people and goods between Canada and the U.S.

Economic Concerns

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other Canadian law enforcement agencies are committed to undertaking coordinated action to counter the threats posed by intellectual property crime. According to the RCMP, “Twenty years ago, most members of the public, as well as most police officers, had never heard of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Crime in Canada. Today, the situation is dramatically different both domestically and internationally. Organized crime has discovered that the manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit goods are easy ways of generating huge profits rivalling those in the drug trade but with very little risk of getting caught. Even if apprehended and convicted, there is only a slight chance of incarceration.” In addition to the tremendous losses to government tax revenues and the legitimate Canadian economy, recent seizures of counterfeit goods (pharmaceuticals, electrical products, brake parts, contaminated shampoo/food products) show that counterfeiters care nothing about the health and safety of Canadian consumers. Intellectual property is an important part of the Canadian economy and, as the country shifts toward an information-based economy, intellectual property rights are increasingly more important. As such, the priority of criminal intellectual property investigations has increased especially when dealing with counterfeit products that represent a health and safety concern to the consumer.

Privacy Concerns

There is a relatively low risk to privacy concerns in Canada. The Privacy Commissioner handles There is a relatively low risk to privacy concerns in Canada. The Privacy Commissioner handles several complaints each year about violations of privacy rights. According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, “Canada has two federal privacy laws, the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The Privacy Act took effect on July 1, 1983. This act imposes obligations on some 250 federal government departments and agencies to respect privacy rights by limiting the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. The Privacy Act gives individuals the right to access and request correction of personal information about themselves held by these federal government organizations. Individuals are also protected by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) that sets out ground rules for how private sector organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities. The law gives individuals the right to access and request correction of the personal information these organizations may have collected about them. Initially, PIPEDA applied only to personal information about customers or employees that was collected, used or disclosed in the course of commercial activities by the federally regulated private sector, organizations such as banks, airlines, and telecommunications companies. The Act now applies to personal information collected, used or disclosed by the retail sector, publishing companies, the service industry, manufacturers and other provincially regulated organizations. The Act does not apply to the personal information of employees of these provincially regulated organizations. The federal government may exempt organizations or activities in provinces that have their own privacy laws, if they are substantially similar to the federal law. PIPEDA will continue to apply in those provinces to the federally regulated private sector and to personal information in inter-provincial and international transactions by all organizations engaged in commercial activities. Oversight of both federal Acts rests with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada who is authorized to receive and investigate complaints.”

Personal Identity Concerns

The Canadian Constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. When there are reports of societal discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practices, prominent societal leaders often take positive steps to promote religious freedom and condemn intolerance.

Drug-related Crimes

There are organized crime syndicates in Montreal. In 2015, the Quebec provincial police (Surete du Quebec) and the RCMP conducted several raids connected to drug trafficking in the province of Quebec. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in violence and murder related to drugs. Sentences for drug-related crimes are shorter and less harsh than in the U.S., Australia, and other Western nations. For example, minimum sentencing requirements for trafficking 6.6 pounds or more of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin carries a one-year mandatory minimum sentence.

Kidnapping Threat

International parental child abductions between Canada and the U.S. do occur. Procedures for coordinating with courts, establishing jurisdiction, and other issues associated with handling these cases are prescribed under the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the "Hague Convention"), of which Canada is a signatory.

In 2012, the RCMP created a new unit: The National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains. The unit maintains a national database for finding missing people and identifying human remains to link investigators across the country when their cases match. The database will provide support to police, coroners, and medical examiners and let them compare their findings to cases from across the country.

Police Response

The SPVM is very proactive and responsive when dealing with all types of criminal activity in Montreal. The capabilities of both city and federal law enforcement agencies are on par with their U.S. counterparts. Police can be relied upon to respond to the scene of crimes in a timely manner. Police agencies and emergency medical services in the Montreal area have 911 capabilities, which have proven highly effective in the rare instances when members of the U.S. Consulate have needed emergency services. Routine and emergency requests for police assistance from the RSO in Montreal have been met with an excellent response by the SPVM and RCMP.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Reports of police detention of a U.S. citizen can be directed toward American Citizens Services in Consular Affairs during normal working hours (Tel: # 514-398-9695). The after-hours number is 514-941-1547; the caller will be forwarded to the Consulate Duty Officer.

Crime Victim Assistance

Victims of crimes and persons in need of emergency medical care should dial 911 for immediate assistance.

Police/Security Agencies

The Service de police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM) is the primary first responder and is the second largest municipal police force in Canada. It serves the entire island of Montréal. SPVM has several specialized units that include police officers and civilians who perform one or more duties that require specific expertise in given areas. Local police stations (PDQ) are the first responders for public safety. They provide basic services to the local population that they serve.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the national police service and an agency of the Ministry of Public Safety Canada. The RCMP is unique; it is a national, federal, provincial, and municipal policing body. The RCMP provides federal policing service to all Canadians and policing services under contract to the three territories, eight provinces (except Ontario and Quebec), more than 190 municipalities, 184 Aboriginal communities, and three international airports. RCMP also has responsibility for protecting diplomatic facilities.

Sûreté du Québec (SQ) is the provincial police force. SQ employs roughly 5,200 officers. SQ is second largest provincial force (behind Ontario Provincial Police) and fourth largest force in Canada. The primary function of the SQ is to enforce provincial laws, some municipal bylaws, the Criminal Code, other laws throughout Quebec, and to assist municipal police forces when needed. Members of the force can also act as forest conservation agents. The SQ is responsible for providing municipal police services to municipalities in the province that do not have municipal or regional police services. The force also patrols provincial highways. The SQ can investigate any incident that involves wrongdoing by a municipal police force or a case where a police intervention caused death.

Medical Emergencies

Emergency medical care is reliable and on par with any major U.S. hospital. Individuals can walk into emergency rooms or, if needed, dial 911 for ambulance service.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Jewish General Hospital: Tel: 514-340-8222

Montreal Children's Hospital: Tel: 514-412-4400

Montreal General Hospital: Tel: 514-934-1934

Available Air Ambulance Services

Air Medic

Emergency: 1-877-999-3322

Tel: 450-766-0770

Info@airmedic.net

Insurance Guidance

For information on auto insurance in the province of Quebec, please visit Societe de l’assurance automobile.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Canada.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is currently no active Country Council in Montreal. Please contact OSAC’s Western Hemisphere team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Montreal or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Consulate General - Montreal
1155 St. Alexandre
Montreal, Quebec H3B 3Z1

Consulate Contact Numbers

Regional Security Officer: 514-908-3666

Consulate Operator (Switchboard): 514-398-9695

Duty Officer: 514-941-1547

Website: http://montreal.usconsulate.gov/

Nearby Posts

Embassy Ottawa: http://canada.usembassy.gov/

Consulate Calgary: http://calgary.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Halifax: http://halifax.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Quebec: http://quebec.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Toronto: http://toronto.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Vancouver: http://vancouver.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Winnipeg: http://winnipeg.usconsulate.gov/

Additional Resources 

Canada Information Sheet