You’ve set out to live a new life in Canada, but have no idea where to start.

Not to worry, we can help. Here’s a list of seven things you need to do before you arrive in Canada.

1. Learn English or French

English and French are the official languages. English is the primary language, however French is prevalent in certain provinces, particularly Quebec and New Brunswick. To find out the prevalent language, simply visit the desired province’s official website.

2. Collect important documents 

The following documents will be important for admission to Canada:

  • Birth certificates
  • Passports
  • Education diplomas and transcripts
  • Medical and dental records
  • Marriage or divorce certificates
  • Drivers licenses
  • Adoption records (for any adopted children)

Note: these documents can be harder to attain once you’ve departed, so it’s essential to plan ahead. It is also important to obtain notarized translations of these documents, which should be handled by credible translation agencies.

3. Secure a temporary place to stay

Before securing long-term housing, it’s important to secure temporary lodging upon entering the country. Staying with friends or family is ideal, but if that’s not an option, seek out hotel or hostel accommodations in a central location. Aim to book lodgings well in advance to save money. Some websites to consider checking out are: Hotwire, and Travelocity. And be sure to read the reviews!

4. Prepare to find work

For many, their first job in Canada is not ideal. But remember: This is likely temporary. When applying for other work opportunities (a useful website is Working in Canada), gather your educational diplomas, certificates and request letters of reference from past employers.

It’s also important to note that your education, experience and professional qualifications may not be recognized in Canada. There are processes to follow in order to ensure your qualifications are equivalent to the standards applied in Canada. The Foreign Credentials Referral Office can provide additional information on how this process works.

5. Research Canada’s education system

If you’re attending school or have school-aged children, you’ll want to research Canada’s educational system prior to arrival. The ministries or departments of education in each province are your main source of this kind of information, and they all have individual websites.

6. Purchase independent health insurance

Canada has a universal health care system, which is paid for through taxes. However, there is a waiting period before you’re eligible. It’s recommended that you buy private insurance to cover at least your first three months in the country should you incur any emergency medical costs.

7. Acquaint yourself with your new residential area

Research different residential areas in order to find one that meets your needs and your budget. Again, this is best done through each province’s official website. And, remember that while most parts of Canada experience four seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall), temperatures vary coast to coast so consider the local climate when choosing your neighbourhood.


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