Making the move to Canada is a big step. Besides having undertaken the laborious task of applying for your visa, there are various other things to consider so that you are prepared for that first week in Canada. We’ve put together an ultimate list of everything you need to check off your list before you book that plane ticket and settle down in your new home in Canada.
Everything You’ll Need Before you Leave
If you are planning to move to Canada and you are still waiting for your permanent residence visa to be processed you will need a travel or vistor’s visa to legally enter the country. There are two types of travel visas: a single entry (which allows you to enter and leave the country once) or a multiple-entry visa (which allows you to enter and leave freely for a specified period of time).
2. Travel Insurance
It is a good idea to ensure that you have travel insurance before you head off to Canada. Even if you qualify for permanent residence, it will take some time to process your medical healthcare card, which means you may not be covered for the first few months of living in Canada.
3. Valid Travel Document
Make sure that your travel document is valid and that you have enough pages for your visa and work permit.
4. Proof of Funds
You will have to prove that you have enough funds to support you, your partner or spouse and dependents for day-to-day expenses. Ensure that you have a bank statement clearly showing this and that you leave enough time to get one before you move to Canada.
If you have not yet acquired a Canadian Job offer, you may want to ensure that you have an updated resume formatted according to Canadian standards. This is extremely important as it’s the first impression that your potential employer will have of you so make sure to set the tone by having a professional resume with excellent reference letter for each employer including your daily duties.
You will of course need a place to stay when you arrive in Canada. It is advised that you plan for at least the first and second night. Make sure that you have your hotel booking reference on hand. It’s also a good idea to have accommodation references from some of your previous landlords. This will come in handy when searching for a more permanent place to stay in Canada.
7. Driver’s License
If you are planning to obtain a driver’s license once you’ve moved to Canada its a good idea to get a “no claims” letter from your previous insurance company to illustrate your driving history.
8. Student Transcripts and Qualifications
If you’re planning on studying in Canada you need to bring your transcripts with you. If they are in any language other than French or English they will need to be translated beforehand. If you have obtained your qualification outside of Canada you will also need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to show that it is valid and of a Canadian standard.
9. Job Offer Letter
If you’ve applied and received a Canadian job offer you will have received a job offer letter explaining the details of your duties, salary and deductions as well as the terms of your employment. It’s a good idea to bring this with you even though you may have already applied for your work permit.
10. Medical Certificate
Canada requires that all foreign immigrants who want to move to Canada have a medical certificate to prove that you are in good health.
11. Police Clearance
Once again, although you may have already submitted these during your Canadian visa application as supporting documents, we recommend bringing your original documents with you.
If you are on prescription medication it is important to get an extended script from your doctor before you leave so that you can have the necessary medication you need. Make sure that your medication is in its original packaging and on the approved Canadian Prescription Drug List.. If you need to refill your prescription in Canada you will need a script from a Canadian doctor.
Top 5 Things To Do In Your First Week In Canada
1. Getting a Cell/Internet Plan
Avoid costly roaming charges from your home provider by setting up a cell phone/data plan as soon as possible. Major phone providers in Canada are Telus, Bell, Rogers and Fido and all offer a range of discounts and special rate plans. There are also a number of new service providers offering competitive rates, including Koodo, Freedom Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile. The average price of cellphone packages can range anywhere from $40.95 to $70.70.
It is important to note that features such as voicemail and caller ID are not a standard feature, that pay-as-you-go plans are much more expensive than other countries and that most providers will charge you for receiving calls. Also note that calling outside your city in Canada may incur “long distance” or roaming charges which can be quite costly. Be sure to shop around and clarify what is and isn’t included in your package.
The main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Canada are Bell, Rogers, Telus and Shaw yet availability depends on your location. It is important to note that some providers charge a monthly fee for their modems and additional charges for call-outs. Be sure to ask what extras are included in your package. Rates can range anywhere from $30 to $150 per month depending on your monthly cap and line speed. Also look at bundles offering discounted rates that include core services such as a T.V or landline.
Top tip: Connect to free Wifi wherever possible to ensure that you don’t exceed your data cap.
This may be tricky considering that you won’t have any Canadian credit history or local references but some landlords are flexible. Websites to consider are Kijiji and Padmapper.
Helpful tip: Landlords are far more likely to answer calls if you make enquiries from a Canadian cell phone number.
3. Familiarize Yourself With The Culture
It may be easier to meet new people, after your move to Canada, (and perhaps equally important, not to annoy the locals) by familiarizing yourself with the customs and culture. Here are some common customs and interesting facts to get you started:
- Line up for the bus
- Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October (compared to The States where it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November).
- It’s not unusual to put cream in your coffee – A “double double” is a coffee with 2 creams and 2 sugars.
- Get your “double double” at your local “Timmies” or Tim Hortons, which is the most popular coffee and donut chain in the country.
- Milk comes in bags – Well, mostly Ontario and Quebec. Opening them may take a few attempts to master so no need to cry over spilt milk.
- Sorry does not seem to be the hardest word – It is probably the most common word used in Canada. In fact, Canadians are so apologetic and polite that in 2009, Ontario passed an ‘Apology Act’. This meant that if a Canadian apologized or more specifically used the word sorry while committing a crime, it would not count as an admission of guilt but rather an expression of regret or sorrow. #sorrynotsorry to include this.
- Poutine, which is slang for “a mess” is Canada’s national dish. It consists of chips smothered in gravy and melted cheese curds. Go on, live on the wild side and give it a try.
- Canadians love maple syrup – a stereotype we know but it’s true.
- The moose and the beaver are the national mascots of Canada and appear on the local currency. Unfortunately, vehicle collisions are so common that Canada has resorted to building crossing bridges for their furry friends, which are most commonly found in Banff National Park, British Columbia and Alberta.
- Beware the bears – Grizzlies, black bears and polar bears can be found in Canada. With 70% of the world’s population of polar bears located in Canada, it is not unlikely that you may experience a bear attack if they feel threatened. Residents of Churchill and Manitoba are so aware of this that they leave their car doors unlocked in case someone needs refuge.
- Learn the lingo – By now we are all aware that Canadians add the word “eh” at the end of every sentence, but there are a few words that you may not be familiar with, such as ”biffy” (the toilet), a “toque” (a beanie), a $1 coin is a loonie, a $2 coin is a toonie, a kilometre is a klick, and Toronto is often referred to as “the 6ix”.
4. Get Your SIN
Your Social Insurance Number or SIN is a 9 digit number required to be able to work in Canada. You can apply for your SIN at any Service Canada office and don’t forget to bring the following <strong> original</strong> documents (photocopies are not accepted):
- Birth Certificate;
- Certificate of Canadian Citizenship issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); and
- Work or Study Permit issued by IRCC.
Please note that you may be required to present supporting documents, such as a marriage certificate or English/French translation and a signed affidavit from a translator if documents are in another language. The process should not take longer than 30 minutes.
5. Set up a Bank Account
It is important to set up your bank account as soon as possible in order to avoid costly withdrawal charges and international conversion rates. There are many banks with different account types available. The 5 main banks are CIBC, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal (BMO), HSBC Canada and National Bank of Canada. Your monthly cheque account fees will average at about $220 per year. If you need to make international money transfers, the 3 top choices are CIBC’s Global Money Transfer, CurrencyFair and TransferWise. Be sure to bring your passport, visa and SIN.
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