What to prepare for when you come to Canada: An immigrant's checklist of things to do

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What to prepare for when you come to Canada: An immigrant's checklist of things to do

The top five things you should do when you first arrive in Canada. Let's look at crossing the border, finances, and finding a place to live.

Are you planning to immigrate to Canada? There are several things that newcomers should do once they arrive in Canada to prepare for their new life in another country. Although the process may seem difficult, the Canadian government offers many services for newcomers to help them every step of the way. Here we'll look at the five things you need when you arrive in Canada. We'll also give you some advice about finding a job and financing. 

1 Securing a place to live

You will need a place to live in Canada as soon as you arrive in Canada. It is easier to take the stress out of your life and book temporary housing before you arrive. Hotels or hostels are a great option for short-term accommodation. Once you know more about where you are going to live, you can start looking for a more permanent solution. It is best to do this as soon as possible as it will take time to process your paperwork when you move in.  

CRS system: how many points do you need to move to Canada under the Express Entry program read here.

2. Health insurance

Canadian citizens and permanent residents can apply for public health insurance. Each province has its own health insurance plan, so once you find out which province you will be settling in, do your research on what the provincial plan covers. Learn more about health insurance in Canada here.

Some provinces require new residents to wait up to three months before they can get public health insurance. You can buy private insurance to cover your needs while you wait. You can also buy private insurance for any services that your province's public plan does not cover. Some Canadian employers also offer extended health insurance for their employees. Contact your provincial ministry of health for information on obtaining health insurance, or you can save your time and get reliable coverage through our website as well.

3. national insurance number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number you need to work in Canada. You also need access to government programs and benefits. You can apply by mail or in person at a Service Canada office. You will need to provide original proof of your identity and status, such as your Permanent Resident Card or proof of permanent residence.

4. Canadian bank account

You should open a Canadian bank account as soon as possible. In Canada, you can open a personal bank account even if you have no job, no permanent address, no money to transfer into the account, bad credit rating or bankruptcy. You just need to go to the bank in person and show a valid ID. The bank teller will be able to guide you through the process and many banks have services specifically for new people in the country. 

5. Contact your community

Moving to a new place can be daunting, especially if you don't know anyone in your new community. Making new friends will not only help you feel at home, it will also help you expand your professional network and help you find a job in Canada. There are immigrant-serving organizations that connect newcomers to other immigrants or Canadians, which can be very helpful. You can also volunteer at local community centres, schools or charities. Try to find activities that you can participate in so that you can meet people with similar interests.

Canada Permanent Residence Card

Permanent resident cards are usually applied for right at the border after you arrive. You will need to provide a Canadian address for the card. Consider in advance whose address it might be.

Once you are issued a permanent resident card, you can travel outside of Canada and re-enter without any additional paperwork. Before you receive the card, you will need a special entry visa. Cards are usually delivered to your place of residence a couple of months in advance. 

Looking for work in Canada

Should I look for a job before I come to Canada? Workers in some fields, such as digital marketing or IT might try this. For others, it is a good idea to prepare for your next search: research jobs at major Canadian recruitment websites, put together a basic resume and practice your interview skills in English with a job coach. This will save you a lot of time in the future. Remember however that in order to be officially employed in Canada you will require a Social Insurance Number (SIN) which you will obtain upon arrival.


It's a good idea to know how you will transfer money to Canada. In addition, you can choose a bank in Canada in advance, because you can't do without a bank account in Canada. The most popular banks in Canada are Scotia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), TD Canada Trust, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and the National Bank of Canada.

Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:

Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in Canada;

Legal advice on business issues in Canada;

Travel and health insurance for foreigners in Canada;

Insurance for international students in Canada.

Find more information about insurance in Canada here.

Read the top 15 myths about immigration to Canada here.

CRS system: how many points do you need to move to Canada under the Express Entry program read here.

USA or Canada for expats: which country is better to migrate to in 2023?

Canadian Labor Law: 10 important rules for foreign employers.

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