You finally made it to Canada! After all the dreaming, planning, submitting, and waiting, your efforts and patience have been rewarded. You are now a Canadian permanent resident!
Imagine yourself seated on the plane waiting for hours for your flight arrival to a destination city in Canada. You might be anxious to get out and embrace your new home, but you also had a lot of things in mind. As a newcomer, you must have lots of questions. What to do first? What to do next?
Let’s go through the list of things you need to do once you arrive in Canada as a permanent resident.
Present and activate your Confirmation of Permanent Residence
Your Canadian permanent residency isn’t formal until the immigration officer at your port of entry will sign and sets a date for the document. By then your PR status is legit. Just prepare the Confirmation of Permanent Residence letter as you line up at the immigration counter in your Canadian arrival city.
Apply for Social Insurance Number
To avail and access various benefits and programs provided by the Canadian government, a Social Insurance Number may be required. Therefore, you need to apply for a unique 9-digit SIN for ease and convenience.
This 9-digit number will allow you to have a job, do your taxes, and/or receive governmental benefits. The most common uses of your SIN are for your employer, your income tax information, financial institutions from which you earn interest or income, and government agencies. Your SIN is and should remain confidential.
You can apply online, by mail or in person at any Service Canada office.
Apply for Permanent Residence Card
When you are traveling, you need a permanent resident card to prove you have the right to land and stay indefinitely when you return to Canada. Thus, this document is also a vital piece of documentation you need to secure soon as you arrive.
Here’s a link to the process of applying for a permanent residence card, including a list of requirements and where to mail your completed application.
Buy a Canadian local SIM card
TO effectively communicate with friends and family — telling them you finally arrived in Canada — a local SIM card is a more efficient and cost-efficient way to do so. As you are settling in Canada, you’ll likely use a SIM card for the long-term so buying one as you arrive is a wise move.
SIM plans are often catered to specific audiences such as students, and individuals or bundled for family or internet plans. It may take a while for you to decide which one works for you so a handy buying guide is best to help you compare the pros and cons of each service, along with customer reviews.
You can buy local SIM from the nearest convenience store and service providers. You can also get good deals online.
Apply for a bank account/credit card
To manage your finances like transferring your funds from your country of origin into Canadian dollars, you need a Canadian bank account. Several banks such as RBC, Scotiabank, TD Bank, and BMO have special arrangements for newcomers to Canada.
A local bank account is necessary to manage your finances in Canada such as paying bills, receiving your wages, and shopping for necessities more efficiently.
You might have done some research before coming to Canada, but you will have a better perspective on your decision when you arrive. The factors may include the presence of branches near your location, suitability for your next plans (like applying for a mortgage) or benefits (cashback and rebates), and personal experience meeting customer service staff.
Applying for a credit card soon is also advisable as you also need to build your credit score to be eligible for favorable deals when applying for a home or car loan, or funding for your proposed business in Canada. This also means once you receive your credit card, you must be diligent in paying them off before the due date to establish a positive credit history.
The application usually requires your PR card (or a COPR document if the card application is in progress), your Social Insurance Number, and a copy of your passport.
Apply for Canadian Health Card
The Canadian healthcare system is publicly funded, and to be able to avail of health services, you need to have your health card handy. As a safety measure in case, a family member gets sick while settling into your new country, securing your Canadian Health Card early helps address potential concerns.
Your Health Card generally covers the following medical services:
- Appointments with your general practitioner
- Visits to walk-in clinics
- Admission to the emergency room
- Necessary tests and surgery
However, it does not cover the following:
- Dental Services
- Prescription Drugs
- Ambulance Services
- Laboratory Test
In general, your health coverage varies by province so look for the details of health services covered by your Health Card in your Canadian province. The links below will also provide guidelines on applying for Health Card.
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
Find a suitable accommodation
You may be staying with a friend or a family member, in a low-cost hotel, or Airbnb accommodation as temporary residences while looking for a more suitable place for you and your family. As you get used to your new country, you also learn more insights on how to find your new home.
Even though there are many online resources to help you find accommodation, it’s a tough job to do as you have to consider many factors:
Distance from grocery/supermarket, public transport, your workplace, medical facilities, schools, church, and recreation centers.
Availability of amenities such as parking, heater, and number of rooms to accommodate your family size
How accessible is it from your friends and close family
Cost vs convenience
Things to know about Canadian housing arrangements.
- Apartment or house can be furnished or fully furnished (more expensive) or un-furnished (you have the freedom to arrange it).
- Rental can be arranged monthly but generally, a fixed-term lease agreement is a year and requires at least half a month’s rent as a security deposit.
- Parking may or may not be covered in your rent so make sure to ask before committing to a property.
- Before offering a lease, landlords often require you to provide a letter from your current employer, bank statements, and references from previous landlords (if any).
Apply for Utility
Once you have sorted out your accommodation, whether rented or bought, one of the first things to arrange is your utility (electricity, gas heater, and water supplies). While this may already be available in the house you are moving to, you still need to apply for an account so bills and payment arrangements will be under your name.
To apply for an account, you generally need to provide the following:
- Account holder’s name (you/partner)
- Social Insurance Number
- Rental agreement
- PR card or COPR document
- Payment method
Additional requirements may be needed, especially if you don’t have the primary requirements available at the time of application.
Having the utility account under your name is also beneficial because certain service applications (government or private entities) require proof of address, and your utility bill bearing your name and address will serve as valid proof for that requirement.
Once you paid any upfront fee which may be in the form of an activation fee, the energy and water supply will then be available under your name. At the end of each buying cycle, you will receive a bill of utility consumption which you’ll need to settle before the due date to avoid surcharges or even disconnection notice.