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In US, the process to get flight following is pretty straightforward. You call the approach/center frequency, request a flight following and you get it.

On a recent flight originating from a Canadian airport (Lachute, CSE4), I contacted Montreal approach after takeoff and requested flight following. They asked me if I had filed a flight plan. I said no, and they asked me to speak to Quebec radio so that a flight plan could be filed, Quebec radio will then give me a number and I am supposed to call Montreal approach again with that number. I contacted Quebec radio and the lady asked me a number of flight plan related questions and then asked me to standby. She never came back. Can someone elaborate on this?

  1. What is the general process to get flight following in Canada?
  2. Is a flight plan required to get flight following?
  3. On another flight originating in Canada (CYKZ - KFRG), I was able to get flight following via Ground Control. So I am guessing a flight plan is not always required. What is so special about Montreal? How am I supposed to know which centers insist on a flight plan before they will provide flight following?
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The general procedure in Canada is the same as in the USA: to contact the nearest ATC unit and ask for a radar service.

For any VFR flight beyond 25nm from the point of departure it is mandatory in Canada to file either a flight plan or a flight itinerary before departure - (CAR602.73(2)).

The provision of radar service to VFR traffic is typically at the controller's discretion and dependent on workload.

VFR Traffic in the Montreal area is generally expected to follow the suggestion published in the Canada Flight Supplement to contact the Montreal ACC 30 minutes prior to departure to obtain a discreet squawk code. This procedure becomes mandatory if you hope to penetrate the Class C airspace.

Generally it's worth reading the appropriate national publications and/or getting advice from an FBO at your point of departure when flying in a foreign country (Canada).

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