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5 Essential Things To Do When You First Arrive in Canada

Published on: December 5th, 2022
Last updated: July 17th, 2023

Are you planning on immigrating to Canada? There are several things that newcomers must do once they arrive to prepare for their new life in Canada. While the process can feel overwhelming, the Canadian government offers many services for newcomers to help every step of the way. Here are the top five things that you should do when you first arrive 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.

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:

3. Social insurance number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada. 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.

Learn more about Social Insurance Numbers.

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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