Immigration and citizenship

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island (PEI)
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Apply to visit, study, work or immigrate to Canada, apply for citizenship, a permanent resident card.

You have prepared the proper immigration forms and received your entry visas to live in Canada, but how do you prepare for what you will face when you arrive?

Our Settle section aims to provide you with the tools, resources, and information needed to ensure your successful integration into Canadian society and the Canadian workforce.

This information will help you make key decisions and address some of the following questions:

  • Where will you live?
  • How do you apply for health care coverage?
  • How do you find work?
  • How do you manage finances?
  • How do you enter the housing market?
  • What sort of weather can be expected?
  • How do you get a drivers license?
  • Where will your children go to school?
  • What do you do in the event of an emergency?

We have designed our content to allow you to easily take advantage of the experience that we've gained over the years by working closely with individuals and families coming to Canada for the first time. We have also developed partnerships with a number of public and private sector institutions and organisations with many years of experience in assisting newcomers to Canada.

Moving to Canada is an exciting opportunity but also a great challenge. Find what to expect in your first few weeks of coming to Canada and learn how to:

  • find a place to live,
  • get around your new city,
  • work and go to school and
  • connect with your community.

You will also find information on Canadian laws, health care and how to get help settling in Canada.

Important things to do before and after you arrive in Canada

In this section, you will find lists of important things to do before and after you arrive in Canada. Every newcomer’s situation is different, so the lists provide only an indication of what you may need to do at different stages. Not every item may be relevant to you, but it is best to be as prepared as possible.

If you are a refugee, you will receive information and support from the Government of Canada specifically for refugees during the immigration process.

Before you arrive in 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 licence and/or International Driving Permit (IDP)

Some of these documents may not be required immediately, but it is better to bring all your official documents with you in case they are needed or useful in the future.

It is often much more difficult to obtain these documents after you have left your country of origin. If the original documents are not in English or French (Canada’s official languages), you will need to obtain certified translations. If you are immigrating to Quebec, it is best to translate the documents into French. Otherwise (except in the officially bilingual province of New Brunswick), it is generally most useful to translate the documents into English. Choose a translation agency with a good reputation in your country of origin. When presenting your documents to Canadian officials, always provide the original, the certified translation, and the name and contact information of the translation agency. If you need to translate documents from English to French or from French to English, this can be done in Canada. If you have family members that will be immigrating at a later date, you should bring copies of their documents with you as well.

2. 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. For information on Canada’s official languages and the importance of having strong English or French language skills, read the information on these topics in the sections Canada: A brief overview, Improving your English and/or French and Employment and income.

3. 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. For information on temporary accommodation as well as how to rent or buy a home in Canada, read the section on Housing.

4. Prepare yourself to find employment in Canada by 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. Learn about the education system in Canada. Take note of deadlines for applying and registering at schools, colleges and universities. For information about schools for your children and education opportunities for yourself, read the section on Education.

6. 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. For more information about health care in Canada and obtaining government health insurance, read the sections on Health care in Canada and Important documents.

7. Learn more about the province and the city or town where you will settle. For more information, go to the provincial or territorial immigration websites in Table 3.1. For information on work opportunities in different professions across Canada,

8. 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. To learn about seasons and weather in Canada, read the section on Canada: A brief overview.

9. Learn about Canadian laws and your rights and civic responsibilities when you become a resident of Canada. For more information, read the sections on Canadian law and justice and Your rights and freedoms in Canada.

In your first two weeks in Canada

1. Learn about the different resources and sources of information available to help you settle in Canada by reading the section on Sources of information.

2. Call or visit an immigrant-serving organization in your city or town to learn about the services they provide, paid for by the generosity of Canadian taxpayers, to help you settle in Canada.

For information about immigrant-serving organizations and how to find one near you, read the section on Sources of information.

3. 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. For more information, read the section on Important documents.

4. Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). You cannot work in Canada without a SIN. You should apply as soon as possible after arriving in Canada. For more information, read the section on Important documents.

5. Provide Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) with your Canadian address, so that you can receive your permanent resident card in the mail. You can provide your address online at change-address.asp. For more information, read the section on Important documents.

6. Open a Canadian bank account. For information on opening a bank account and other financial matters, read the section on Money and finances.

7. 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 in Canadian cities, read the section on Transportation.

8. Learn a convenient way of making telephone calls and accessing the Internet. For more information, read the section on Communications and media.

9. Memorize the national emergency telephone number: 911. If you experience a medical or other type of emergency, do not hesitate to call for help.