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Essential Things To Do When You First Arrive in Canada in 2024

Published on: December 19th, 2023
Last updated: December 26th, 2023

Preparing for your new life in Canada involves several essential steps upon your arrival. Although the process may feel overwhelming, the Canadian government provides numerous services for newcomers to assist at every stage. Here are the top five tasks you should prioritize upon your initial arrival in Canada!

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1. Housing

You’ll need a place to live right away when you land in Canada. Save yourself some stress and book yourself some temporary accommodations before you arrive. Hotels or hostels are a great option for short-term housing, and most allow you to reserve a room online. Once you know more about where you’re going to live, you can start looking into a more permanent solution.

When looking for long term rentals, you have various options to explore, depending on your needs, budget, and preferred location. For instance, if you are an international student, you can look for shared bedrooms in houses with roommates. Alternatively, if you are relocating with your family, furnished apartments and houses equipped with appliances and utilities included are available.

Websites such as kijiji.ca offer a comprehensive list of available rentals in specific parts of the city. You can easily filter your search based on your preferences, whether you’re looking for houses, apartments, or shared spaces. The Facebook Marketplace is another excellent option, allowing direct contact with property owners or real estate rental agencies to inquire about available rentals. However, note that this option might not be accessible from certain countries when searching outside Canada, requiring you to wait until your arrival.

Renting online offers advantages, including access to a wide range of nearby opportunities. However, it also comes with potential issues such as rental fraud or selecting locations in less-than-ideal conditions. It’s crucial to exercise caution when considering online rentals. Always visit the place before committing or opt for a video call. Refrain from sharing personal information or making payments until you have confirmed the trustworthiness of the person or agency. Prioritize your safety throughout the entire rental process.

Check out our Accommodation page for more information about housing.

2. Health Insurance

Canadian citizens and permanent residents can apply for public health insurance. Each province and territory has its own health insurance plan, so once you know which province you’ll settle in, do some research about what the provincial plan covers.

Some provinces require new residents wait up to three months before they can receive government health insurance. You can buy private insurance to cover your needs while you wait. You can also buy private insurance for any services your province’s public plan doesn’t cover. Some Canadian employers also offer extended health insurance coverage for their employees.

Contact your provincial ministry of health for information about getting health insurance:


When arriving as an international student, it is essential to ensure you have health insurance coverage before arriving in Canada. International students do not have access to the public health system in Canada.

3. Social insurance number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit requirement for employment in Canada, applicable whether you arrive as a permanent resident or a temporary worker. You also need it to have access to government programs and benefits. You can apply for one by mail or in person at a Service Canada office. You’ll need to provide an original primary document to prove your identity and status, like a permanent resident card or confirmation of permanent residence.

For international students permitted to work in Canada, obtaining a SIN is necessary upon arrival. You’ll need to apply, submitting copies of your study permit and work permit for the application.

Learn more about Social Insurance Number.

4. Canadian bank account

You should open a Canadian bank account as soon as you can. In Canada, you can open a personal bank account even if you don’t have a job, don’t have a permanent address, don’t have any money to put in the account, have poor credit rating, or have been bankrupt. You just need to go to a bank in person and present valid personal identification. The teller at the bank will be able to walk you through the process, and many banks have services specifically for newcomers to Canada.

Learn more about banking in Canada.

5. Connect with your community

Moving to a new place can be scary, 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 grow your professional network and help you find a job in Canada. There are immigrant-serving organizations that connect newcomers with other immigrants or Canadians, which can be very helpful. You can also volunteer in your local community centres, schools, or charitable organizations. There are a lot of ways to get involved, try to find activities you can participate in to get to know people with similar interests to you.

Learn more about connecting with your community.


Do you need help preparing your application to come to Canada? Complete our free online assessment today to discover all of your options!


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