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Welcome to Canada: A Newcomer’s Guide to Getting Settled

You’ve spent hours thinking about it. You’ve spoken to friends and family. You’ve planned as much as you can. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ve ever made. You’re starting a new life in Canada. To help with your arrival, we’ve put together a simple guide of everything you need to know about getting started in your new country.

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Canada is one of the best countries in the world. That’s why you chose it as a new home for you and your loved ones. It’s diverse, beautiful and full of opportunities. But getting settled in a new place can be scary. Where will you live? What about healthcare? Where will you put your money? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Pre-Arrival Checklist

Before leaving your home country, gather all of you and your family’s most important documents. You may not need them all, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here’s a list of documents you may need:

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. Passport
  3. Driver’s License
  4. Educational Degrees/Certificates/Transcripts/Diplomas
  5. For a complete list of documents visit: Newcomers Canada



Unless you’re immigrating to Canada from a native English or French speaking country, make sure your documents have official/certified translations, and always bring the original versions. If you’re moving to Quebec, it’s best to have your documents translated to French. English to French and French to English translations can be done in Canada, because after all, we’re a bilingual country.

English and French

Work on your language skills. It’s much easier to adapt to a new country if you speak the language. Practice your English and/or French as often as possible before arriving. It’ll make a big difference. Your two best options to improve your language skills are private lessons and classes funded by the Government of Canada. Want to learn more? Click on the link for: Canada’s federally funded language testing and classes.

Already speak English or French but want to learn even more? Use this amazing resource from the Government of Canada’s official website. You’ll have access to writing tools, quizzes and everything else you need to master English and French!


Living with friends and family can make your first few days or weeks in Canada much easier. But if you don’t have a network of people to rely on, you’ll need a place to rest your head. There are thousands of affordable hostels, hotels, apartment rentals and other types of accommodations. It’s best to book them as far in advance as possible. You may be wondering why. It’s simple. The earlier you find and book a place to stay, the cheaper it is and the more options you have. It’s also one less thing to worry about when starting your new life.

Reminder: Do your best to book somewhere with easy access to transportation and other amenities such as restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Before booking a location, read the reviews left by other guests. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a short list of useful sites to help find accommodation: Hostel World, hotels.com, Airbnb, and for long term apartment/home leasing see this CMHC guide.


Having control of your money is important. There are a few important things to know about banking in Canada. Here goes:

You have 2 central types of accounts:

1. Checking Accounts:

These accounts allow you to write or cash checks and are usually accompanied by a debit/bank card. Debit cards are one of the most popular ways to pay for items or services in Canada. They’re accepted almost everywhere. They allow you to take money directly from your checking account and sometimes savings account. Depending on the bank you open an account with, the monthly fees and transactions fees will vary. Employers will typically require that you have a checking account when they pay you via direct deposit. This lets them put money into your account, not take money out.

2. Investment and Savings Accounts:

These accounts are important for saving and budgeting. They typically let you earn interest on the money you have in the account, but often restrict the way you can use your money. Fees are usually higher in these accounts. Most Canadians have both types of accounts and use them for different needs. Book an appointment with a specialist at your bank for more information and options. Have more banking concerns? Learn more on Canada’s Newcomer Site.

Cash and Credit Cards:

Cash, much like most countries in the world, is one of the oldest and simplest ways to buy goods and services. However, it can easily be lost or stolen and is easy to spend irresponsibly. Credit cards are very popular in Canada. They are also pretty easy for adults to obtain. Credit cards allow you to make purchases by temporarily borrowing money from a lender company. You then have a specific amount of time to pay the company back. Credit cards typically have a range of interest rates and are often used to book hotels, flights and other services. They can also create problems for anyone who uses them carelessly. Do your research and make sure you know exactly what your credit card company is expecting of you in return for lending you credit.


There are millions of jobs in Canada, and more than enough for new immigrants to find suitable work to help support themselves and their families, both here and abroad. Remember all of those important documents? You’ll need some of them when applying for jobs in Canada. More specifically, you’ll need documents related to your education and qualifications such as diplomas, resumes, cover letters and reference letters from past employers. It’s also very important to have your credentials recognized in Canada. Find out more about how your credentials match up to Canadian standards, here.

To increase your chances of getting the best job for you, you should be in the biggest job banks in the country; we suggest you learn how to search for jobs in Canada. Happy hunting!


A great benefit of living in Canada is access to universal healthcare. This means, everyone can get some form of medical treatment when needed. However, getting access to healthcare for newcomers varies based on the province you will live in. Some provinces take a few weeks, others may take several months. Canada also has many institutions that offer private health insurance coverage. In case of emergency, it would be very wise to have this kind of coverage while you wait for universal health insurance from the government. Visit the Healthcare System section of Canada’s newcomer site to learn more.

Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Your Social Insurance Number is the single most important piece of information you’ll have upon your arrival in Canada. Without this number, you cannot work or take advantage of government services and benefits. You and everyone who arrives in Canada with you will be given one. It’s probably best to memorize the number and keep it in a safe place. The Government of Canada’s section on the SIN is full of useful information and it’s very important that you read it through completely.

Permanent Residence (PR)

To put it simply, a permanent resident is someone who Immigration Canada allows to stay in Canada permanently. They are not citizens as they usually retain citizenship in another country but do not have dual citizenship in Canada and the previously mentioned other country. There are only a few differences between permanent residents and Canadian citizens.

Permanent residents have access to healthcare and almost all other social advantages. They are free to work, study and live anywhere in Canada and are protected under the laws of the Canadian government. They can also apply for citizenship in Canada.

However permanent residents are not allowed to vote and do not have access to some very specific high security clearance jobs, usually within the government.

Newcomer permanent residents will have their PR card sent to them for free if they provide their address to the Government of Canada within their first 180 days living in Canada, if the deadline is missed, a $50 fee will be charged for the card.

To learn all there is know about permanent residence status in Canada visit the Government of Canada’s understanding permanent resident status page.

Additional Resources

We want your arrival in Canada to be as simple and enjoyable as possible. Here are some more interesting and useful resources to make your arrival a good one.

Immigration Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) For immigrants, refugees and new arrivals. Everything you should know!

Newcomer services For those already living in Canada, find the best resources near you. Just use your postal code!

Full Pre-Arrival Checklist For those not yet living in Canada!

Full Post-Arrival List To make sure you’re off to the best start possible!

Did you find this post informative? Are you ready to move to Canada?
Contact Canadim and complete a General Immigration assessment today!

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The Canadim Team!

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