New to Canada

February 17, 2015

Government websites specifically for newcomers


Provincial and territorial websites for newcomers

For information on immigration and settlement

For information on employment in Canada

Province/Territory Website
British Columbia
New Brunswick
Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island

Before coming to Canada:

Important things to do before you come to Canada:

1. Collect and bring to Canada all official documents belonging to you and the family members who are immigrating with you.

Common documents include:

• Birth certificate

• Passport

• Marriage or divorce certificate; death certificate for a deceased spouse

• Adoption records for adopted children

• Educational diplomas and certificates; transcripts that list the courses you took to obtain a degree or certificate

• Official vaccination records

• Medical records (prescriptions, test results, x-rays, allergies, etc.,) and dental records

• Driver’s license and/or International Driving Permit (IDP)

2. Improving your English

Make an effort to improve your English or French if neither of these is your first language. Communication skills may be the most important tool you can possess to settle successfully in Canada and find a good job. The language you focus on improving will depend on which one is most commonly spoken in the area where you have chosen to settle.

3. Planning your stay

Plan where you will stay during your first days in Canada. Make arrangements to stay with family or friends or book a hotel in a central location.

4. Prepare yourself to find employment inCanadaby doing the following:

• Gather all your educational diplomas and certificates.

• Obtain letters of reference from your past employers.

• Learn about 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.

• Learn about how to search and apply for jobs in Canada.

5. Purchase health insurance

Purchase private health insurance. This insurance pays for emergency medical costs until you obtain government health insurance in Canada. Private health insurance is necessary because the time between when you apply and when you receive a government health insurance card can be three months or longer.

6. Purchase warm clothes

Purchase some warm clothes to keep you comfortable during the first few days if you are arriving in Canada during the fall, winter or spring.

Crossing the border

You can prepare to cross the border into Canada by making sure that you understand all of the steps that are involved, and that you have all of the important documents that you and your family will need.

1. At the border you will need to present: a Canadian immigrant visa, a Confirmation of Permanent Residence, and a valid passport or other travel document, for yourself and each family member traveling with you.

2. You will also need to present two (2) copies of a detailed list of all the personal or household items you are bringing with you (PDF document), and two (2) copies of a list of items that are arriving later and their money value.

3. You will have two border crossing interviews. Be prepared to talk about your official documents and what you're bringing to Canadawith you.

4. Make sure you know what you can and cannot bring into Canada.

5. If you are bringing CAN$10,000 or more (or the equivalent in foreign currency), you must report it to the CBSA.

First two weeks in Canada

1. Apply for a government health insurance card. A government health insurance card allows you to receive taxpayer-funded medical care inCanada. You should apply as soon as possible after arriving in Canada.

2. Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). You cannot work in Canadawithout a Social Insurance Number(SIN). You should apply as soon as possible after arriving in Canada.

3. Provide Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) with your Canadian address, so that you can receive your permanent resident card in the mail.

4. Open a Canadian Bank account. The various types of bank accounts are chequing account and savings and investments account. Chequing account enables you to write cheques and usually uses the debit card. They often have lower transaction fees than a savings account and may or may not have a fixed monthly fee. You will need a chequing account if your employer uses payroll deposit. Payroll deposit allows your employer to deposit money directly into your chequing account. Savings and investment accounts are helpful if you want to save money because they provide higher interest than chequing accounts. With these accounts, you may be allowed to make only certain types of transactions or a certain number of transactions. Additional transactions may be expensive. That is why most consumers who open a savings account also have a chequing account for their day-to-day banking needs.

5. Obtain a map and walk around to get to know your city or town and the local services available. Also, research the best way of getting from one place to another using public transportation.  For an overview of transportation options.