Preparing for your arrival in Canada
It is important that you bring to Canada all your official documents for yourself and all family members moving with you. This may include:
- birth certificates
- marriage or divorce certificates
- death certificate for a deceased spouse
- educational diplomas, certificates and transcripts
- medical records (prescriptions, test results, x-rays, allergies, etc.,) vaccinations and dental records
- driver’s licence and/or International Driving Permit (IDP)
You will need a number of these as identification to register for services.
Where to stay
You will need to plan where you will stay during your first days or couple of weeks in Canada. This may entail making arrangements to stay with family or friends or booking a hotel in a central location.
You should put together your own personal employment package in advance to find employment in Canada. This could include all your educational diplomas and certificates, letters of reference from your current or past employers. You may need to research and begin the process of getting your educational and professional qualifications officially recognized in Canada. Find out whether your profession is “regulated” or “unregulated” in Canada. Start to search for jobs in Canada.
Research the education system in Canada and schools in the area you plan to live in. Make a note of deadlines for applying and registering at schools, colleges and universities.
Government health insurance will not kick in for a few months; therefore you will need to purchase private health insurance to pay for emergency medical costs.
Start to research the city or town you plan to settle in. What amenities are available for you and the family. What services are available for new immigrants local to you.
Arrival in Canada – The first few weeks
You have finally arrived in Canada. There are a number of steps that you should take in your first few weeks:
Provide Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) with your Canadian address, so that you can receive your permanent resident card in the mail. As long as CIC have a Canadian address for you, you should obtain your PR card within the first 180 days, you do not have to apply for it. After this time, you will need to apply.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). You will not be able to work in Canada without a SIN. You should apply as soon as possible after arriving in Canada.
Apply for a government health insurance card. A government health insurance card allows you to receive taxpayer-funded medical care in Canada. You should apply as soon as possible after arriving in Canada. Until you receive this you should be covered by your private medical insurance you obtained before your arrival.
You will need to transfer money across to Canada; therefore you will need to open a Canadian bank account. See our section on banking for further details.
Learn a convenient way of making telephone calls and accessing the Internet. You will need to do a lot of research in your first few weeks, sourcing out services, contacting organisations and making all kinds of arrangements. Memorize the national emergency telephone number: 911. If you experience a medical or other type of emergency, do not hesitate to call for help.
First two months
After you have taken your initial steps on arrival, you can start to research other areas that may be needed depending on your situation.
Finding a Long term home
You may be staying at family initially or in a hotel on a short term basis, at some point you may need to start the search for a longer term home for you and your family. You will need to decide if you intend to rent or buy, therefore searching the rental market or searching the property market to purchase. You may need to register with a letting or real estate agent. Things to consider is the area you wish to move to, if applicable schools and amenities that you need close by, good transportation links if for example you need to close to a train station.
If you have school age children, you will need to register the children in a local school. Having an idea of where you want to live will help with researching what schools are available in your area. You will need to contact the local education board for your area to get guidance on the procedure for school registration.
Driving in Canada
If you decide to drive in Canada you will need to obtain a Canadian driver’s licence. You will need to contact the driving services in your province to obtain instructions on the steps to obtain a licence.
Once you have received your government health card you can go ahead and find a doctor or health-care centre where you can go for your medical needs. Make an appointment for a medical check-up for yourself and the family when you receive your government health insurance card.
At this stage you will want to start your job search. Two very useful sites are www.workingincanada.gc.ca
and www.jobbank.gc.ca . They offer job search tools, details on different occupations, the requirements and also trade regulatory information. Your first job may not be your dream job, however it can be the stepping stone to you obtain valuable work experience to move on in the future.
Planning ahead is the key to success, it is imperative with such a life changing task such as immigrating to a new country. Take the time to go through each area given above, so you are not overwhelmed or ill prepared and before long you will be settled comfortably living your dream life in Canada.