The Ultimate Checklist Before Moving to Canada

September 18, 2023


  • Wesley Allan

Are you considering swapping your current domicile for the frost-kissed charm of the Great White North? Perhaps you are captivated by its breathtaking landscapes, or the pulsating energy of its bustling cities tickles your fancy. It could even be the alluring promise of a better life, painted in maple syrup and ice hockey hues, that entices you to move to Canada.

Well, whatever your reasons, embarking on a Canadian adventure can be as thrilling as a moose sighting on a foggy morning. But let us not forget, just like trying to decipher the lyrics of Celine Dion’s French songs, it requires meticulous planning and preparation.

Indeed, any major life transition, whether deciding to grow a beard or moving to Canada, needs a solid game plan. And that is precisely where we come in.

We have concocted a comprehensive guide, the ultimate 'Moving to Canada' checklist, designed to fit perfectly into your mittens. Think of it as your GPS navigating the winding roads of paperwork, essential tasks, and Tim Hortons locations.

So, grab a cup of piping hot poutine, put on your toque, and dive into this thrilling expedition.

What to Do Before You Move to Canada

Moving to Canada

Before you start packing your bags, there are several crucial steps you need to take. This section of your moving checklist for Canada involves a lot of planning and paperwork. Still, it is essential to set the stage for a successful move.

Get Your Documents Ready

Before you embark on your journey, having all your documents in order is essential. This 'moving to-do list Canada' has got you covered. 


The first step in your 'how to move to Canada' journey is obtaining a visa. There are several types, including work, study, and permanent residency visas. Please make sure you apply for the right one to fit your circumstances.

Travel Insurance

Securing travel insurance is a must before moving to Canada. It covers unexpected travel-related expenses and gives you peace of mind on this new adventure. 

Valid Travel Document

A valid passport is crucial for your move. Check its expiry date and renew it if necessary.

Proof of Funds

You must show that you have enough funds to support yourself in Canada. Bank statements or official letters from your bank can serve as proof. Learn more about Canadian settlement funds and how much money you need to move to Canada.


Update your resume to the Canadian format. This will increase your chances of securing employment in Canada. Learn more about Canadian resume writing.


Organize your accommodation in advance. Whether renting or buying, having a place to stay will make your transition smoother. 

Driver’s License

If you plan on driving in Canada, ensure your driver's license is valid and internationally recognized. You can also get a driver's license in Canada.

Student Transcripts and Qualifications

If you are moving to Canada for studies, take your transcripts and qualification certificates along. They will be helpful when enrolling in Canadian institutions. You will likely have to get your transcripts validated. To do this, you must get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from an education validation company like the World Education Services (WES). 

Job Offer Letter

If you are moving to Canada for a job, your offer letter will be crucial during your visa application process. However, if you do not have a job in Canada,  you do not need a job offer letter to move to Canada. Learn more about how to move to Canada without a job offer.

Medical Certificate

Canada requires a medical exam for incoming immigrants. Scheduling your medical exam for Canada is an important step. You must find an approved panel physician in your home country to conduct the exam. You will get a medical certificate after the exam. 

Police Clearance

You will need a police clearance certificate to prove you have no criminal record.


If you take prescribed medications, bring a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor explaining your condition and treatment.

Prepare for the Move

Now that you have made critical decisions, it is time for action. This section of your moving checklist for Canada revolves around concrete steps to move your life from your current location to Canada.

Decide Which Immigration Program to Apply For

Canada offers over 80 visa immigration programs, each with criteria and benefits. Please research these options thoroughly to determine which works best for you. Whether you are moving for work, study, or family, there is likely a program that aligns with your circumstances. However, knowing which is right for you can be daunting with many programs. One of the best ways to find the best program for you is to utilize a certified immigration professional like an accredited immigration lawyer or a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). Learn more about how RCICs can help you.

In the meantime, you can start by learning about Canada's immigration programs to know your options.

Organize Your Belongings and Decide What to Bring with You

Once you decide to move, it is time to start organizing your belongings. Decide what you want to bring to Canada and what can be sold, donated, or discarded. This is a critical step in your moving to-do list for Canada, as it can significantly reduce your moving costs and make your transition easier. To help you start, here is an essential packing list for Canada.

Sell or Dispose of Items You will not Be Bringing to Canada

Now that you have sorted your belongings, it is time to remove what you will not be bringing. You can sell items online, host a yard sale, or donate items to charity. Not only will this help you declutter, but it can also provide some additional funds for your move.

Update Your Resume in the Canadian Format

If you plan to work in Canada, you must update your resume to the Canadian format. This involves highlighting your skills and accomplishments, using clear, concise language, and customizing your resume for each job application. It may seem like a lot of work, but it is a vital step in your job search. 

Start Applying for Jobs in Canada

Once your resume is ready, you can start applying for jobs. The Canadian job market is competitive, so start your search early and apply for positions that align with your skills and experience. Remember to customize your cover letter for each application, highlighting why you are a good fit for the role and the company. Learn more about how to apply for jobs in Canada below.

Ensure Financial Readiness

Moving to a new country involves significant costs, so financial preparation is crucial. This section of your moving checklist for Canada will help you manage your finances effectively for a smoother transition.

Ensure Your Passport is Valid and Up-to-date

Your passport is critical to international travel, so please ensure it's valid and up-to-date. Check the expiration date and ensure it is valid for at least six months beyond your planned arrival in Canada. 

Obtain Updated Bank Statements to Serve as Proof of Funds

Your moving to-do list for Canada should involve gathering financial documents. You must provide proof of funds when you apply for your Canada visa, which typically involves providing updated bank statements.

Explore Financial Products and Services for Newcomers

Before your move, research financial products and services for newcomers. Many Canadian banks offer specific accounts for newcomers, which can help you get set up financially in your new home.

Research and Plan for Your New Life in Canada

Moving to Canada involves more than packing your belongings and boarding a plane. You must also research and prepare for your new life in the Great White North.

Learn about the Canadian Culture and Lifestyle

Before your move, take the time to learn about Canadian culture and lifestyle. This will help you understand what to expect and how to adapt to your new surroundings. 

Familiarize Yourself with the Healthcare and Education Systems in Canada

Understanding Canada's healthcare and education systems is crucial, especially if you are moving with children. Research how these systems work, what services are available, and how to access them. To get started, learn more about healthcare in Canada.

Research Housing Options and the Cost of Living in Your Desired City

Finally, research housing options and living costs in your desired city. This will help you budget effectively and find a home that suits your needs and lifestyle. 

To help you stay on top of you preparations, download or print out this handy pdf of our checklist so you know what to do wherever you go.

Canada moving checklist

Moving to Canada is a big step, but with careful planning and preparation, you can make the transition as smooth as possible. Following this comprehensive moving checklist for Canada, you can ensure you are ready for your new adventure in the Great White North. However, this is just a guide. Every person's journey is unique, so you can adapt this checklist to suit your circumstances. And most importantly, remember to enjoy the process. Moving to a new country is an exciting adventure, and there is so much to look forward to in your new Canadian home.


move to Canada

What are the Basic Requirements to Move to Canada?

The requirements vary depending on the immigration program you choose. However, basic needs include a valid passport, visa, proof of funds, and a clean criminal record.

How do I Apply for a Canadian Visa?

You can apply online or at a visa application center in your home country.