The more you can do now to prepare for your move, the easier your move will be. We’ve collected some key tips to share with you:
Attend workshops on moving to Canada in your home country
Look for workshops run by the Canadian consulate or Canadian sponsored organizations like CIIP (Canadian Immigration Integration Project) that help new immigrants prepare for their move to Canada. These workshops offer customized advice, resources and help new immigrants prepare and integrate into the Canadian labour market while still in their home country to help make their transition easier.
Get your paperwork together
You’ll want to have your valid immigrant visa, passport, birth certificate, education documents, immunization and health records up to date and ready to go when you leave. You’ll find a complete list of essential documents and important items as well as helpful tips at Citizenship and Immigration Canada Make sure all your documents are either in English or French to ensure that they’ll be accepted by organizations in Canada. If not, have them translated and notarized.
Get your driver’s license, experience certificate from your local road transport authority and a reference letter from your existing automobile insurance company. These will act as proof that you are an experienced and safe driver. You may find them useful when you apply for automobile insurance in Canada. As well these documents may help lower the cost of your automobile insurance. In Canada, you must have vehicle insurance to drive legally. Learn more about Driving in Canada
Plan your arrival date
When you’re organizing your move to Canada, it is helpful to set a target date for your arrival. Then, prepare a timeline based on what needs to be done. Booking tickets early may also help you save on the cost of your ticket.
Many new immigrants find that moving during the summer – when most of Canada is experiencing warm or hot temperatures – is easier to handle on both a practical and emotional level than a winter move. Find out what type of clothes you’ll need when you arrive.
Decide what you want to bring
When you arrive:
Plan to purchase or obtain all the items that you’ll need for the first few months of your stay, since other household items that are being shipped may not arrive for a few months after you do. Also consider bringing an extra supply of any medications you take—the same brands and formulations that you are accustomed to taking, may not be available in Canada and it may take time to find suitable alternates.
After you’ve landed:
Obtain an estimate from a moving company for packing and shipping costs of items that will arrive later. You may wish to re-evaluate your packing list, as the cost of shipping large items like furniture may be as expensive as the cost of a new item in Canada.
Find a place to stay when you first arrive
Unless you have already arranged permanent accommodation, you’ll need somewhere to stay when you first arrive.
Your options might include:
A hotel or motel room
The home of family or friends who already live here
A host or sponsor who has volunteered to house newcomers
A house or apartment for rent – rental accommodation is usually listed in the classified advertising section of local newspapers in Canada or may be found by searching the internet.
Find newcomer services in your area
The Government of Canada provides many free services to newcomers to help them get settled. Before you arrive in Canada, check the free services offered in the area where you will be staying. You may also wish to consider booking an appointment with a service agency before you leave so that you can meet with someone soon after you arrive in Canada. Visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada for a complete list of community and government services.
Find out if you qualify for assistance
Canada offers special benefits programs to assist certain types of immigrants. Find out whether you’re eligible for these programs.
Prepare for Work
This is perhaps the most important step in the immigration process. With some preparation, you can take advantage of Canada’s many job opportunities and find the success you’re looking for.
Prepare documents for work
Collect all of the personal and professional references that are important to your job search. Have these documents, as well as a résumé outlining your education, work and volunteer experience, diplomas, degrees, certificates and other qualifications, translated into English or French for potential employers in Canada.
Decide where to immigrate
The type of career you wish to pursue may impact where you choose to live in Canada. Although many people move to larger city centres, interesting job prospects may exist elsewhere in the country. To make an informed decision on which locations have the best prospects for you, visit the Working in Canada tool .
Research job opportunities
To get specific information on job descriptions, wages, skills and language training, check out the Working in Canada tool .
Check job listing websites in Canada and industry-specific sources for current job openings, for example, www.jobbank.gc.ca , www.workopolis.com , www.monster.ca , www.working.com and www.careerbuilder.ca .
Evaluate your credentials
You likely want to know the value of the education, training, and experience that you have acquired outside of Canada. You can find out how your education compares with the standards in your province or territory of residence by having a provincial assessment service review your credentials.
Learn more about organizations and institutions that will help you get your credentials recognized in Canada.
Contact people who you know in Canada
Get in touch with friends and family in Canada who may be able to help you prepare for your move and help you get settled quickly and easily once you arrive.
They can serve as your initial network in Canada and may be able to act as a personal reference in your job search. They may also offer valuable information on important considerations such as accommodation and living expenses.
Evaluate your language skills
Rest assured that while English and French are very helpful in Canada—especially when it comes to finding a job—your language skills don’t have to be perfect immediately. Depending on where you move, you may find yourself surrounded by other immigrants from your home country who speak your language. And many organizations offer multilingual services to better serve their customers; at RBC Royal Bank, for example, we offer service by phone in over 180 languages and provide multilingual service at our branches.
LINC offers eligible adult immigrants (not just those looking for jobs) an opportunity to learn English or French for free. LINC can also direct you to education services in your community.
Here are some things you can do now to help get your finances organized before you arrive in Canada:
Open a Canadian bank account
One of the first things you’ll want to do is set up a bank account.
This will make it easier to transfer funds to Canada and is one of the most cost-effective ways to bring money into the country.
It also means you will have your funds readily available when you arrive, making it easier to settle in Canada. For example, if you are looking to rent an apartment and have already opened an account and transferred funds, you will be able to provide a bank statement as proof of funds.
To open an account, call us collect at 1-506-864-2275 and we can speak to you in the language of your choice.
Transfer money into your Canadian bank account
A wire transfer of funds is one of the safest and most cost effective ways for you to bring your money to Canada. You will need to give the bank in your home country the following information:
You can estimate your monthly living expenses based on where in Canada you will live, type of accommodation and transportation, schooling and living expenses such as food, clothing, utilities and entertainment.
Understand the Canadian banking system
Check out the RBC Guidebook called Understanding Banking in Canada for an explanation of Canada’s banking products and services as well as useful tips and information to help you and your family become financially established in your new home.
Get temporary medical insurance
Buying medical insurance from your home country before you leave or immediately upon arrival in Canada will protect you and your family from potential medical expenses in the event of an unexpected illness or an accident requiring medical attention. This insurance is required for the 90–day period following your arrival in Canada. Although Canada has health plans sponsored by the government in the province in which you reside, you will not be eligible to participate in this plan until 90 days following your arrival in Canada.
Obtain Canadian funds
Once you arrive, you will likely need cash for small purchases, taxis and so on. Use the Foreign Exchange Calculator to estimate how many Canadian dollars your money will buy.
Make banking arrangements in your home country
Before you leave, you will need to ensure that you set up banking relationships in your home country so that you will be able to manage them while you are in Canada.
Internet or online banking is an effective way to manage your accounts in your home country (if your existing bank offers these services).
Now that you are here, you want to get set up as quickly as possible. Here are tips that we hope will help you get settled and feel more at home.
Finding a place to live
When looking for a place to live, one of the most important things you will need to consider is transportation. If you are not planning to buy a car in the near future, you may want to look at locations that are close to public transport. Other things that you will need to consider are:
Proximity to shopping areas, school & medical care facilities
The cost of living in the area
You can search listings in your local paper. You’ll also find helpful sites online, such as RentCanada and Viewit.ca where you can even look at pictures of accommodation for rent.
Glossary – Rent The amount of money, usually paid monthly, that a tenant pays a landlord in exchange for living accommodations.
Sometimes, you are required to sign a lease when you rent an apartment. A lease is a formal contract between you (the renter) and the owner, or a representative of the owner, of the property. Before you sign the lease, read it thoroughly and make sure you understand it. If your language skills prevent you from understanding the lease, you may want to have someone else there to translate.
Glossary – Lease. An agreement under which a person pays a monthly amount for the right to use a specific asset, such as a car, for a specified length of time.
Save money on public transit
With most public transit systems in Canada, it is cheaper to purchase several tickets or tokens at once, rather than to pay cash every time. If monthly and/or weekend travel passes are available, they may also help you save on the cost of travel. Learn more about saving money on transit in Vancouver:
Apply for a library card
The public library system is free for all Canadian residents. Aside from the opportunity to check out books, your local library will often offer free Internet services, which can help you out until you have home Internet service. In most cities, you will need to bring two pieces of identification with your name and address (for example, your rent agreement, utility bill or passport) to your local library to apply for your library card.
Prepare for Work
Finding a job that suits your skills and interests requires research, preparation and quite possibly, patience. In time your hard work will pay off and you’ll find the job you’re looking for. The important thing is to never give up and to take advantage of helpful online resources, informal networks of friends as well as resources offered by your local community groups.
Applying for Jobs
In Canada, applying for a job involves three steps:
Going to Interviews
Before going on a job interview, you should do some preparation. You can search online for probable questions that may be asked in interviews. Prepare answers to these questions in advance. Your answers should not be more than one to two minutes long. If you are scheduled for a job interview, you should bring the following with you:
Consider your References
A reference is someone who can speak to a potential employer about your character and, if relevant, work experience. Some Canadian employers may prefer Canadian references. Think carefully about who can accurately answer questions about you and ask them if they would agree to be your reference. Include the names, recent phone numbers, job titles and addresses of up to three references on a separate piece of paper with your resume. Provide them only when asked by a potential employer.
Look into Career Planning and Placement Services
Many settlement agencies such as COSTI and YMCA provide free employment services ranging from job shadowing to subsidized on-the-job training to direct hires.
Setting up phone, internet and cable services
There are many service providers that offer phone, internet and cable TV. Some companies may offer you all these services as a bundled plan at a discounted rate. There are also a variety of price plans, determined by the number of features you use. You may want to sign up for the basic plan initially and then add on extra features as you feel you need them.
Improving your language skills
To successfully work in Canada, you will need to know one of the official languages – English or French. If your language skills in English or French are still lacking, consider going to free LINC programs that are run by immigrant serving agencies. Even if you feel confident in your English/French language skills, you will need to learn words, terms and phrases that are commonly used in Canada. The best way to improve your skills is through conversation, watching and listening to Canadian programs on television and radio, and reading Canadian newspapers and magazines.
Now that you’re in Canada, the first thing you’ll want to do is open a bank account, if you haven’t already. As a newcomer, we recommend you open your account in person at a bank branch.
Here are a few more things you might want to consider when it comes time to set up your finances:
Set up your bank account
An RBC advisor will help you through the account opening process. For your convenience, choose a branch that’s close to where you live or work. For legislative and regulatory purposes, we require you to bring two pieces of identification with you to open an account. Click here for a list of valid identification. When you open an RBC Royal Bank bank account, you’ll be given a personal Client Card for convenient and secure access to your money. You can activate this client Card immediately by choosing a numeric, confidential Personal Identification Number (PIN) that acts as your “electronic signature” whenever you use your Client Card.
Glossary - Client Card. This is provided to you when you open an account. It allows you to access your accounts while in your bank branch, at an ATM or store, or through online banking, often in combination with your Personal Identification Number (PIN) or RBC Online Banking password. Also known as a bank card or debit card.
Glossary - Personal Identification Number (PIN). A password, usually four digits, created by the user to access his or her account, in combination with a Client Card, when making an ATM or point-of-sale transaction.
One of the most convenient ways to manage your funds is through Online Banking. You can use Online Banking to check your account balances, transfer funds between different accounts, pay bills and even send money overseas 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through RBC International Remittance®.
Choose from different account types
In Canada, we have many different account options including:
A banking or transaction account: This allows you to deposit and withdraw money from anywhere, any time you want.
A savings account: This is for cash that you want to keep accessible but don’t need for day-to-day expenses.
A G.I.C. (Guaranteed Investment Certificate): This is an individual investment with a guaranteed rate of return. GICs generally provide higher interest rate returns than savings accounts but access to your funds is limited to the GIC maturity date.
Glossary - Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC). A type of deposit investment that guarantees the investment principal and usually pays a predetermined rate of interest for a specified amount of time (the term).
Getting a Canadian credit card
One of the easiest and most effective ways to start building a credit history is to get a Canadian credit card such as an RBC Royal Bank credit card. As you use your credit card and make monthly payments, you will create a credit history. When you need more credit later on, your good credit history will help you achieve a more favourable credit score. Your credit history will help you qualify for a mortgage, a car loan or even a loan to start a business in the future.
Outside of building a Canadian credit history, a Canadian credit card will offer you the following benefits:
Glossary - Credit history. A list of facts, gathered from financial institutions, retailers and other lenders, about how you have handled credit in the past. Most of this information stays in your file for seven years. This information forms a profile of your credit-worthiness, called your credit rating. Your credit rating is used to help banks and other companies to decide whether they will allow you to borrow money, and how much.
Glossary - Credit card. A plastic card that enables you to purchase items or services from a range of stores and establishments and pay for them at a later date. A minimum amount must be repaid each month. If you pay the full balance by the due date, no interest is charged.
Glossary – Mortgage. A loan secured by real property, typically a home.
Glossary – Loan. An agreement under which a borrower receives cash from a lender (often a bank) for a predetermined length of time at a given interest rate, generally with a stated repayment schedule. The principal must be paid back at a specified future date. Interim payments may consist of interest only or a blend of interest and principal. With a fixed-rate loan, the interest rate stays the same for the term of the loan. With a variable-rate loan, the interest rate changes with market rates.
It’s a convenient way to shop and pay for services.
A credit card is often needed for certain purchases, such as setting up contracts for a mobile phone, renting a car or shopping online.
It enables you to make everyday purchases without carrying large amounts of cash.
You’ll make purchases in Canadian funds and avoid exchange-rate costs.
You can often use it as a form of identification.
Here are some good credit card practices that will help you build a strong credit history:
Create a budget to help manage day-to-day expenses
A budget is a key part of a financial plan. It can help you meet your short-term expenses and obligations and begin saving towards short and long-term goals. Talk to an RBC advisor about setting up a financial plan that will help put you on the path to success in Canada. Call 1-800-769-2511 and we’ll be happy to speak to you in the language of your choice.
Apply for Services
While you can wait until you’re more settled to apply for some government programs and services, here are a few that you might want to look into right away.
Applying for a SIN Card
All Canadian citizens, newcomers and temporary residents who want access to government programs or who want to work in Canada are required to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) – a unique number that identifies each individual. There is no fee to apply. You will need this number to file an income tax return and to receive government benefits and allowances. You will also need this number to access essential services like opening a bank account, as well as when you need to have a credit check done.
Applying for a SIN is easy to do through Service Canada with the following documentation:
Landing Papers or Permanent Resident Card
Your new SIN number will be given to you immediately and your SIN card will be sent to you in the mail.
Applying for Child Tax Benefit and GST/HST credit
The Canada Child Tax Benefit is a tax-free, monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18. The amount of this benefit is calculated using the information you provide on your income tax returns. Applications may be submitted by mail or online
The GST/HST (goods and services tax/ harmonized sales tax) credit is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals and families with low or modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay.
Glossary - Income tax returns. A form that a person files each year to the Canada Revenue Agency (and Revenu Quebec for Quebec residents) that states the amount of earnings, investment and other income, as well as eligible deductions, to reconcile the amount that he or she has actually paid in income tax with the amount owing or owed.
Glossary - GST/HSTGoods and Services Tax (GST) — A federal tax (currently 5%) applicable on the sale of most goods and services in Canada. It is collected by the vendor on behalf of the government.
Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) — A tax on goods and services, applicable on sale, that reflects both the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and provincial sales tax. HST exists in the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Applying for a health card
When you arrive in Canada, you must apply for a provincial health card in order to access Canada’s public healthcare system. Health card application forms are available from all provincial/territorial Ministries of Health and at some doctors’ offices, pharmacies and hospitals. You can also get one from an immigrant-serving organization. To apply, you will need proper documentation: passport, landing papers or permanent resident card, and confirmation of residence.
Here are a few tips that will help you stay organized and plan your new life in Canada.
Saving money when you shop
Day-to-day living expenses in Canada may be very different from what you were used to in your home country. Costs for food, clothing and home furnishings may surprise you. Even more surprising may be the variation in costs between different regions of the country and between different retail stores.
Stores compete with one another for your business, so it's always worthwhile to compare prices before you buy. Note: the price of a product does not include provincial sales taxes (PST), goods and services tax (GST) or harmonized sales tax (HST) (applicable to select provinces only), which will add anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent to the cost of an item, depending on the province in which you buy it.
Here are some more tips to help you save money when you shop:
Check your local paper for flyers and coupons.
Need to make a large purchase? Check craigslist.com or kijiji to see if you can find a gently used or second-hand item.
Many of your favourite brands provide special offers and rewards via email so be sure to sign up for their newsletters.
Check out Flyerland for online access to flyers and coupons from stores in your area.
These tips may help you save a few dollars as you shop and take care of your day-to-day needs. However, a more formalized budget can help you manage your money carefully so that you have enough to meet everyday needs and can save for future goals.
Getting your driver's license
You may have been able to use your foreign driver's license for the first few months after you arrived in Canada but at some point, you will need to get a Canadian driver's license to continue driving. To get a Canadian driver's license, you need to take a road test and a knowledge test on the rules of the road. Some provinces use a graduated licensing process, which gradually gives you more freedom to drive as you gain experience. Find out more about getting a driver's license in the province or territory where you live.
Tip: A driver's license is good to have as a form of alternative identification that you can use, instead of your passport. It is a good idea to get a Canadian drivers license even if you don't plan to buy a car and drive regularly.
Find childcare in your area
Most childcare centres have both regular, full-fee and subsidized spaces for families that qualify. This national source of daycare listings and child care information is helpful for finding quality daycare centres and reviews across Canada.
B.C.: The Ministry of Children and Family Development works with community groups to promote quality child care choices that meet the needs of local families. You can search by postal code or city to find child care options convenient to you.
Enrol your children in school
Regardless of which province you live in, your children will have the same access to education. Children must be enrolled in a school in order to attend classes. To enroll your children, you will need their birth certificates and other identification (such as their Record of Landing, Permanent Residence Card, or passport). You may also be asked to bring immunization records and past school and health records. To find out which school is closest to you and the one which serves your community, visit the local district school board website.
Children between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend school. The majority of Canadian children go to public schools. You can enroll your children at the local public school free of cost. School classes usually start in early September and end in late June. There is a two-week vacation in December and a one-week vacation in either February or March. Children attend school Monday to Friday, for about six hours a day. In some provinces and schools, kindergarten school is only for half a day or 3 hours. There are morning or afternoon slots depending on the school in your area.
There are also private schools, but you will need to pay fees if you want your child to attend a private school. These fees can be quite expensive. Public schools and separate (Catholic) schools in some provinces are paid for through your provincial taxes.
Now that you're becoming more comfortable with your new life in Canada, you'll probably want to start looking ahead and plan for your future. Here are a few ideas that you may wish to consider:
Managing your debt
Having a credit card or a line or credit can be a great way to manage your expenses. These products will help you build your credit rating in Canada. A strong credit rating will help you when you wish to get a loan for a car or when you apply for a mortgage, ensuring you get competitive rates.
But if you take on too much debt and are unable to meet your payment obligations, it could have a negative impact on your credit rating. To avoid this, make sure you understand the terms of the credit when you borrow. Different products come with different rates, credit limits and repayment obligations, and should be used for different purposes. For example:
Use the credit that's right for your needs to help you achieve your common goals, borrowing only as much as you feel you can comfortably pay off.
Invest in your children's education
Canada offers tremendous educational opportunities for your children, but post-secondary education, such as college, university or a vocational, technical or trade school, costs thousands of dollars each year for tuition, books, computers and living expenses. One of the most effective ways to save for this expense is with a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). An RESP is a registered investment account that allows you to set aside money specifically for your children's education. There is no annual limit to contributing to an RESP however, there is a lifetime contribution limit of $50,000 per child.
RESPs have three advantages over non-registered savings plans.
Buy your first home
In addition to providing you and your family with a place to live, a home is a valuable investment for your financial future. Purchasing a home is likely one of the biggest investments you'll make in your lifetime and it comes with financial and emotional implications. Finding the right location is key, especially when you have children. Consider these points before starting your search:
You'll want a safe neighbourhood, close to schools and transportation
Factor in all of the costs associated with buying a home, above and beyond your down payment and mortgage payments. Like land transfer taxes, closing fees, or even the cost of appliances and window treatments.
Consider moving costs, taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.
It is important to note that most first-time homebuyers in Canada need a mortgage – a long-term loan from the bank that uses the home as security. Mortgage rates are among the lowest of all credit products but, because of the large amounts involved, a mortgage loan is also typically the longest to pay back. As you grow your savings in Canada and enjoy more financial security, you may be able to take steps to pay down your mortgage faster.
Manage your savings
Putting a savings plan in place today can help ensure that you have the money you need to achieve both your long-term and short-term goals. Once you've identified your saving and investing goals, an RBC advisor can help you decide the best way to invest to reach them. Some things to consider are:
Investment fit: Which investments will help you meet your personal goals with a level of risk that you're comfortable with?
Investment type: Are you interested in individual investments, such as Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), or mutual funds, which are a selection of investments managed by professionals?
Investment returns: Some investments, such as GICs, have guaranteed rates of return. Other investments, such as equities, are not guaranteed but offer higher potential growth over the long term. What kind of investment mix do you want in your portfolio? There are many different investments to choose from. An RBC advisor will explain the features of each one to you and will help you select the mix that's appropriate for you.
Buy a car
Many people think of their car as a long-term purchase and buy one that not only meets current needs but one that can accommodate future needs as well. In fact, today it is not unusual for a car to last for 10 years or more. One of the biggest considerations you will have when purchasing a car is how to finance it. There are a number of options to consider which include the following: Installment loans, cash rebates, and discounted interest rates.
A typical car loan involves borrowing the full amount of the purchase price and paying it back over a set term, typically one to five years.
Before you make any vehicle purchase, explore your options and shop around for the best price.
Also, remember to factor in the cost of car insurance, which is mandatory in Canada. Car insurance can cost $1,000 or more each year, depending on the car, your age, your driving habits and where you live.
Protect your family, belongings and lifestyle
Insurance is an important part of any financial planning that protects you and your family from the effects of unexpected events. Whether it's home, auto, life, health, emergency medical coverage when traveling or protecting your personal belongings, insurance could be one of the wisest investments you can make. Without it, just one unexpected incident could jeopardize your financial security.
To help you understand how you can safeguard your financial plan, ask for your free General Insurance Needs Assessment at any RBC Royal Bank® branch. For general advice around protecting what is important to you, visit our Advice Centre
Plan your retirement
It's never too soon to think about how to make the most of your retirement years. With a plan in place, you can get a better idea of where your money will come from so you can achieve the lifestyle you want when you're ready to retire. Even a small saving commitment today can make a significant difference in the long term. One of the most valuable tools available to help you save is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).
An RRSP is different from a non-registered account in that your contributions are tax-deductible and the earnings generated by the investments in your RRSP are tax–deferred, in other words, they are not taxed so long as you keep them in the plan. However, you generally have to pay tax when you cash in, make withdrawals, or receive payments from the plan.
Because RRSPs offer generous tax breaks, there's a limit on how much you can contribute each year. Your maximum contribution is generally 18% of the amount that you earned during the previous year, up to a specified dollar maximum set by the government, less any pension adjustment related to an employer pension. As a new Canadian, you should not make a contribution until the year after you begin working in Canada.
To learn more about how RBC Royal Bank can help you save for retirement, just visit any branch to talk to an RBC advisor. We can work with you to help identify your retirement savings needs and develop an action plan to help you reach your goals.