Moving to Canada? Here’s a checklist to help you out

Checklist for immigrating to Canada, beside Canadian flag

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Congratulations! With your travel papers now on hand, you can now start preparing for your move to Canada. We know that there is so much to do, so take a deep breath, relax, and we’ll help you go through your preparations step-by-step.

Here are some of the first (major) things you should accomplish before you leave:

  1. Gather your documents

    Make sure that you have original copies of official documents that you or your family members will need. These will be papers related to your health, education, profession, and others. These documents should include your:

    • 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 (your child’s baby book if you still have it)
    • Medical records (prescriptions, test results, x-rays, allergies, etc.) and dental records
    • Driver’s licence and/or International Driving Permit
    • Driving experience letter or certification from your local transport authority (this may help lower the cost of auto insurance)
    • Detailed resume/Curriculum Vitae
    • Contact details of references and reference letters

    Start applying for documents that you lack as some of these take time to process. Having to apply for these documents after you’ve landed in Canada can be costly and take more time. Remember that your documents should be written in English or French (Canada’s official languages). You will need to have them translated if they’re not in English or French. Make sure that you use a reputable translation agency. Get an affidavit signifying that the translation is accurate. It would also be wise to have photocopies, digital copies or certified true copies of all your important documents. This will come in handy when you need extra copies for various applications or in case you lose the original document.

    It would be convenient to have records of your income (your earnings a year prior to moving to Canada) and other business or financial papers. These will come in handy when it’s time to file your taxes or applying for GST/HST benefits.

    If your profession is regulated, you may want to start checking the requirements for certification or licensing with your professional association or regulating body in Canada (or the specific province you’re moving to). It may be easier for you to acquire trainings, documents or credentials needed for this process while you are still in your home country. To know more about credentials assessment and licensing, read 5 steps to credentials assessment and licensing.

  2. Get your finances in order

    Check the amount you need to bring as settlement funds. The minimum amount depends on your immigration pathway and the size of your family. To be safe, know your country’s rules about the amount of money you can bring out and other currency rules.

    Upon landing, you are required to declare if you have brought in more than CAD$10,000. Use the cross-border currency or monetary instruments report form to do so. Note that you are allowed to bring more than CAD$10,000, you just need to declare it. The Canadian Border Service Agency (CSBA) has the right to seize money over CAD$10,000 that is not declared. You may also need to pay a fine or face other penalties for failing to report.

    There are various ways to bring your settlement funds to Canada. You can:

    • Bring cash. It is recommended to have your funds converted to Canadian dollars before arriving.
    • Bring other instruments. You can have travellers cheques, bank drafts, or money orders. You can also bring stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills and others.
    • Deposit at a Canadian bank. It may be easier to transfer your funds if your bank in your home country is a Canadian bank affiliate or partner. Check this list of Canadian Banks or inquire about transferring funds to Canada from your current bank.
    • Open a Canadian bank account. It may be possible to open a Canadian bank account while you are still in your home country. Examples of this is Scotiabank’s International Account or ICICI Bank’s Hello Account for Newcomers*. Check their eligibility and identification requirements.

    Learn more about banking in Canada from this link: Banking for newcomers to Canada (Canadian Bankers Association). You’ll be happy to know that some banks have products that are designed especially for newcomers to Canada. They can have perks like no service fees for a year, no-fee remittances, credit card access, and others.

  3. Research job opportunities

    Use your National Occupational Classification (NOC) to research job prospects at the Canada Job Bank. Take note of standard wages, outlook, education and job requirements. Most importantly, know if your profession is regulated. As mentioned, you will need to go through the qualification recognition process to be licensed or certified to practice your profession.

    Find out the demand for your profession and the kind of skills and qualifications companies are looking for. If you’re Manitoba-bound, check Manitoba In-Demand Occupations or the Canada Job bank, Indeed and other online job boards. If you feel that you are ready, go ahead and send an application. Make sure to submit a Canadian-style resume. Read 7 steps to a Canadian-style resume to learn the format. Start preparing to become job-ready by reading our Employment articles.

  4. Attend pre-departure seminars

    Chances are you’ve already been invited to attend pre-departure seminars like the Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA), Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) or Active Engagement and Integration Project (AEIP). These seminars provide information on topics such as employment, housing, health, settlement services, and life in Canada. These will not only help you in your preparation and planning but will also connect you to settlement supports that may need once you’re in Canada. In some countries, it is mandatory for emigrants to attend state-sponsored pre-departure seminars to be allowed to leave the country.

    Meanwhile, Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) is a free program that prepares you specifically for employment. It offers one-on-one information sessions, free courses and employment counselling to help you arrive prepared to work in Canada.

  5. Improve your English

    Job-ready English is a big factor in getting hired in Manitoba so start improving your writing, speaking, listening and reading skills. You may want to learn French too, as it is Canada’s second official language. It is an advantage, especially if you are applying for federal/government jobs, to be proficient in French.

    Pre-arrivals are currently not eligible for English Online’s services but our self-study materials are open to everyone. Check out English Exercises, Canadian idioms and iEnglish resources to get started. If you are moving to Manitoba, contact us as soon as you land. We’ll give you access to more free learning options to help you get settled.

  6. Plan your first days/weeks upon arrival

    Get to know more about the province and area where you will settle. If you’re bound for Manitoba, read our Living in Manitoba topics to know what to expect when you get here. Know the weather on the day of your arrival to plan the clothes that you will wear and bring (Environment Canada). Arrange for your accommodations. If you are not living with relatives or friends, get the help of New Journey Housing for housing options or read information on their site. You can also search for rental ads online but be careful and make sure to avoid rental scams.

  7. Make a list of what to bring

    First, check this list: Bringing goods to Canada to know what you can and can’t bring. Know your airline’s luggage limits and specifications to avoid excess baggage penalties. New immigrants are also allowed to ship other goods to follow if there are other things you need. You may choose to prepare a list of goods by filling out BSF186, Personal Effects Accounting Documents form to make your processing at the border easier and faster. Also read Crossing the border: Documents you need for more tips.

    You may be preparing to bring appliances, food, clothing, and other goods that you think may not be available in Canada. You may do so as long as they do not add on too much to your baggage (and they are not restricted goods). However, you should know that Canada is one of the most multi-cultural places in the world. The province you’re headed to may have ethnic stores where you may find your native ingredients, products or implements. Do your research or ask a friend who is already here before you stock up on things that are easily available.

  8. Establish the right frame of mind

    Lastly, be optimistic about your move but be realistic as well. Have positive expectations but have a good plan of action and be ready to work hard. Immigrating is not easy but you have the skills and resources to succeed. Have a safe and happy trip!

* These services were mentioned as examples. English Online does not endorse these services and institutions nor profit from the mention.

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