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Moving to Canada Checklist + tips & free download

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Moving to Canada? We got you covered. We moved to Canada years ago, and have been assisting friends since then. So sit back, and relax as this is the only moving to Canada checklist you will ever need!

In this post, we will cover travel documents, electronics, money, and other overseas essentials. 

Moving to Canada Checklist

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Preparing yourself

First of all, YAY! You are coming to the awesomest country EVER! Congratulations, we are so EXCITED for you, and we are sure you are gonna have so MUCH fun. 

Yea, some months are cold, eh, but the people here are the WARMEST!

Leaving the comfort of your home, and arriving in Canada – will open up new avenues for you – work, travel, nature, new friends and relationships. Prepare yourself mentally for the move, stay positive. Follow this checklist to ensure you have all the paperwork, and other essentials in place. 

Travel & Moving Documents for Canada

Gather all the travel and Canada moving documents for yourself and family members. Collect the originals and photocopies for each of the documents and organize them/store them in a folder. 

Note that official documents should be written in English or French. If they are not, consider translating them prior to your visit. Coordinating that from Canada will be difficult, and the process could be long and expensive (Pro-tip: Bring all documents that are ‘official records’ birth/identity, education, etc.). 

Ensure the documents are not torn, laminated or faded. Keeping the documents organized and labelled will help you breeze through customs and immigration when you arrive in Canada. 

Documents List include:

☐ Valid Passport (s) 

☐ National Identification Card (like Permanent Resident Card, Adhar Card, etc.)

☐ Birth Certificate (Note: Translate it to English or French)

☐ Driver’s Licence 

☐ Driving Record/Abstract (citing driving experience. This will help in getting a Canadian driver’s licence without waiting, or a reduced car insurance rate)

☐ Medical Records

☐ Travel Insurance – Medical, trip cancellation

☐ Bank Loan Documents, if any 

☐ Visa Documents (Student Admission letter, Work Permit, Sponsorship letter, etc. This document complements the temporary visa and details about your purpose of move to Canada, if moving temporarily)

☐ Education Records (Degrees, Diplomas, any professional association. Ensure the certificates are not laminated; is translated to English/French)

☐ Sealed transcripts that list the courses you took to obtain a degree or certificate

☐ English testing/IELTS records

☐ Professional associations/licences 

☐ Resume

☐ References

☐ Marriage/Divorce certificates

☐ Guardianship of minor children/their birth certificate/ adoption papers

Financial Documents

Financial documents and cash (any assets) deserve a separate section. When I moved to Canada, I had a student loan. And this was an essential part of my Student Visa permit. I used Travelers Cheques (to carry cash).

Salil, on the other hand, worked in India, and he brought income records. If you worked or had a business back home, bring in financial or income papers, they come in super handy when you file your taxes or apply for GST/HST benefits.

☐ Proof of Settlement Funds (funds that are required to show as ‘proof’ that you can take care of yourself and family upon your move. This can’t be a loan).

☐ Student Loan Statement, if any

Carrying money/ cash flow & deposits 

☐ Cash (Note: You are required to declare if you bring in cash of more than CAD$10,000. You are allowed to bring more than $10,000 Canadian dollars just remember to declare it on arrival) 

☐ Travelers Cheques, treasury bills or stocks/bonds 

☐ Open an international/borderless account (like Payoneer) OR 

☐ International Money transfer (Moneygram, Western Union, Paypal to transfer money) OR 

Open a Canadian bank account, if there is an affiliate partner in your home country

There are many banks around the world that have a tie up with Canadian banks. This might be a good option to consider if you have a lot of cash to carry/transfer. Normally visitors convert them into travelers cheques and then deposit them into a Canadian account, upon arrival.

To open a bank account in Canada you would need a residential address plus passport and additional document citing Canadian residential status. You can open an account, without any deposits or you can deposit everything you bring to the country –  your choice. 

As a newcomer to the country, we recommend opening an account with TD Canada Trust or Scotiabank. Both banks have a solid network of ATMs and branches across the country. They also have special discounted accounts for students, and newcomers. 

A word about credit cards: You can apply for a secured credit card, upon arrival. (Secured because you won’t have a credit history upon arrival. But let’s say you keep collateral as a security deposit of $500, you can get a credit card with a limit of $500 CAD for building your credit history). This is true for students, new professionals, etc. Immigrants with businesses will be a little different.  

Moving to Canada

Expensive jewelry and valuables 

Another note about expensive jewelry or valuables: Everything you are bringing into the country must be declared. You can rent a bank locker to store valuables. 

It is important to keep in mind that it takes a while to find a mid or a large size locker in major national banks, so apply for one as soon as you open an account. You can get on the waitlist at the bank by filling out an application form and also get a free quote for different lockers to suit your needs.

Electronics & Universal Adaptor

Our number one moving abroad checklist item is a universal adaptor. Here’s why – Canadian electrical plug points might be different from your home country (well, it depends on where you are moving from like Canada and the United States uses the same plug type). We moved from India/Asia and hence our laptops needed an adaptor to charge. 

Canada uses two associated plug types, types A and B. Plug type A two flat parallel pins and plug type B has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin. You can purchase a universal adaptor (which is SO SO handy for travels), and use it in Canada.

Note that Canada operates on a 120V supply voltage and 60Hz.

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    Most unlocked GSM cell phones will work with Canadian mobile networks. You can opt for prepaid, postpaid or monthly billing plans with or without a phone. 

    In our initial years, we used post paid plans on our cell-phones (that we brought from India for personal use). This will definitely keep costs low, and you are not paying towards the ‘phone’, and you can switch providers without a penalty as there won’t be a contract.

    Once you are settled in (or when the time comes to upgrade your old phone), consider a 2 year phone contract where you can get a brand new phone + calling & data plan for a monthly fee. Because we blog we like to try new technology (in phone cameras and editing) and prefer a contract rather than buying a phone outright (which also depreciates in value!). 

    It is also important to note that not all telecommunications companies have a strong network everywhere. What worked for us in Toronto (Ontario) didn’t work in North Battleford (Saskatchewan), and definitely didn’t work in Banff (Alberta). 

    Our favorite cell-phone providers: Virgin Mobile, Telus (special offer with home services for a discounted price). There are other budget options like Fido, Koodo, but their network is a hit and miss, depending on your location. 

    Make a list of other items to bring from home 

    Canada is so diverse and it seriously is a melting pot of many cultures, and I assure you will find food ingredients, make-up/cosmetics and other items that you adore at home here. 

    However, you should carry ‘some items’ that you can’t live without for the first few months (till you are all settled in). 

    Here are some pointers,

    ☐ Clothing – tops, pants, undergarments

    ☐ Socks & shoes 

    ☐ Warm clothing (* we recommend buying winter wear here in Canada after arrival)

    ☐ Medications

    ☐ Your skin-care routine/essentials (*it takes time to get your skin used to the new environment and cosmetics)

    ☐ Hair care products

    ☐ Any parting away gifts/decorative items

    *Please don’t bring dairy, meat, or food items. There are grocery stores and restaurants where you can buy or dine-in, enjoying international cuisines. Don’t bring kitchen utensils, you can purchase them here at stores like Dollarama ($4 or less/affordable), Walmart, Hudson Bay, etc. Travel light 🙂 

    Arranging for Accomodation 

    Finding housing or a rental place can be daunting as a new immigrant. If you do not have friends and family to take you in, here are some options for accommodation in Canada for your first night and beyond. 

    All of the options listed below are temporary accommodation options (paying guests, rentals, Airbnb or long term hotel)

    For the short term (a night to a month or more) you can also opt for an Airbnb and stay with a local and learn all about the new city. Of course, hotels are always an option

    • For students: Resident dorms, paying guests (with a family), shared apartment with other students
    • For Families: Find rental apartments, basement in Kijiji, Craigslist, or Facebook groups for newcomers. Through this, you can contact the landlord and make arrangements. In many cities, property management companies manage apartments/townhomes, and you can easily find rental ads online or in local classifieds. 

    To rent a place as a new comer, you will need a few documents. 

    • Employment letter with annual income information
    • Bank statements (balance to cover rent)
    • Most rental agreements involve a lease of 12 months, and a security deposit of one month is required.
    • References from previous landlords or contact in Canada. 
    Immigrations Canada

    Attend pre-departure seminars or school orientation 

    As a newcomer to Canada, you are welcomed to join one of the many pre-departure seminars to get ready for your new life here. There are one-on-one sessions, free courses, and employment counseling to help you navigate through the different systems. They also assist you to find driving schools, health care, and settlement services. 

    When we moved to Toronto, as a student our school program orientation covered a lot about bus/public transportation (transit systems), health card, work permits, etc. 

    When we moved to Saskatoon local agencies had settlement services to help us find rental apartments, jobs, rec centers, etc. 

    Here are two programs that are worth checking into, as a newcomer to Canada

    • Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) or 
    • Active Engagement and Integration Project (AEIP). 

    Getting job ready 

    If you are moving to Canada with a job or to open a business – Congratulations and all the best for the new venture!

    Moving as a student? Your student permit has restrictions as to how many hours you can work while you are enrolled as a full-time student. Details here

    If you are traveling on an open work permit or permanent resident card, you should start by opening accounts on online job boards like Indeed.ca, federal and provincial board jobs, etc to receive new job alerts.

    ☐ Make a master list of all the transferable skills, role profiles, educational qualifications

    ☐ English testing records/IELTS to show your English speaking, listening and writing skills 

    ☐ Apply for degree or diplomas equivalency 

    ☐ If your job is regulated, ensure you have all the professional licences and documentation in place and get them converted upon arrival 

    We hope you found this post and checklist useful.

    International moving might sound daunting, but its rewards are manifold – keep living your dreams!

    Additional Resources 

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