How To Move To Canada
The complete guide!

Find A Job

With an unemployment rate of just 6.8%, the chances of finding work in Canada are good. There has recently been a surge in job numbers, with 59,000 new jobs having been created in 2016, greatly exceeding the expected 5,000-10,000 increase in jobs predicted by economists. In fact, by 2020, the unemployment rate is predicted to drop to 0%, as the numbers of young workers entering the workforce fail to match the numbers of elderly workers retiring. There will be a predicted 1.8 million jobs going unfilled by 2030.

There is some variation in unemployment rates dependent on location; while British Columbia has a 5.9% rate of unemployment and the Yukon a rate of 5.5%, Nunavut comes in at a rate of 13.5% and Newfoundland and Labrador at 12.0%. Some Western provinces like Alberta and Manitoba have unemployment rates similar to those of top-performing countries such as Norway, whereas in Atlantic Canada unemployment rates are as high as the poorest faring European countries such as Ireland. The unemployment rate is lower for women than for men in all provinces except Saskatchewan.

In order to find a job you should have a work permit, as not having one will severely limit your chances of finding work. A prospective employer can apply for one on your behalf, but more often than not this proves to be more hassle than it is worth for them, as it is a costly legal process. In order to stand a good chance of finding a well-paid professional job you should have a high level of English, and if looking to work in Quebec, a high level of French. You will be particularly in demand if you are bilingual in French and English as many companies have to do business with both French and English-speaking Canada. If you do not speak English well you can still find work teaching your native language privately or in language schools, and the same goes for Quebec; without French you can teach English or whatever language you know well to locals on a private basis or in an academy.

There is a large underground job market in Canada, with many people working without a permit, but this provides no job security and workers run the risk of being found out and deported. This is sometimes the chosen route for those entering the country with no formal qualifications, recognised trade or English or French skills, as often the only employment opportunities they can find involve unskilled manual labour and little necessity to speak the local language. Illegal work is often poorly paid, with employers failing to meet the minimum wage and implement suitable safety standards. Employers hiring illegal workers can be fined up to 50,000 dollars or imprisoned for up to two years.

To work in Canada you will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) which you can apply for on arrival to the country. Once you have this there are many ways to find work if you haven’t already got something lined up before arrival. Employers can be contacted directly to ask if there are any positions going, there are job fairs you can attend, you can look on job search websites and in the classified sections of newspapers, and use employment agencies to help you look for work. You can also look on Job Bank, where up to 2000 jobs are posted every day (www.jobbank.gc.ca). Other websites include www.canadajobs.com, www.monster.ca and www.workopolis.com. In order to apply for a job you will usually need a CV and cover letter listing your work experience, qualifications and the reasons why you are best suited to the job.

Volunteering is one way of making contacts, getting Canadian work experience, practising your English or French and finding references which will serve you later on in your search for paid employment. There are some great sites where you can find interesting and diverse projects to work on in Canada, including www.workaway.info, www.gooverseas.com and www.goabroad.com.

There are many temporary job opportunities to be found in hotels, bars and restaurants. This work is mostly seasonal, so most opportunities will be found in summer and in the winter ski season (December-April) in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. The fruit-picking season in Ontario, the Okanagan valley and British Columbia runs from July through to March, and is a particularly good option for those needing to brush up on their English skills, or wanting to work outdoors and get a good workout! Au pair work can be a good option for women, as accommodation and board is provided and a moderate wage, allowing you time to settle in to your new town and save money before having to pay rent. The Canadian government runs the International Experience Canada scheme (www.cic.gc.ca) providing UK citizens between 18-30 with the opportunity to work in paid temporary employment for one year. BUNAC Work Canada (www.bunac.org/uk) also offers a similar programme allowing people to work in the country for up to one year.

Temping office work can be a good option and there are a number of agencies that can aid you in looking for posts, for example www.adecco.ca. There are over 40 Adecco agencies in Canada, and there are all sorts of positions available in areas such as administration, reception, retail etc. It can be easier to secure temping work than permanent contract work at first and it gives you a chance to try a few different jobs and gain experience, references and contacts for your CV.

Useful Resources

Adecco Recruitment Agency
http://www.adecco.ca

Canada Job Bank
www.jobbank.gc.ca

Service Canada
www.servicecanada.gc.ca

Citizenship and Immigration Canada
www.cic.gc.ca

Business Network International Canada
Tel: 1 800 365 2276
Fax: 1 888 798 9377
http://www.bnicanada.ca/

 

Apply For A Visa/Permit

It will depend on your nationality whether or not you require a visa to enter Canada. Those who do not require a visa, will require an Electronic Travel Authorisation (also known as an eTA). Even if you are only transiting through Canada, you will still require an eTA. If you have Canadian dual nationality, you won’t be able to apply for an eTA, so you will need a valid Canadian passport in order to board your flight.

You will need to be able to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your stay in Canada, even if you are staying with family and friends.

You do not need an eTA if you are arriving by land or sea, but you must travel with acceptable forms of identification.

You can apply for an eTA on the official government website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry and exit, as well airside transit. You can also apply for an eTA using your Emergency Travel Document.

You can be denied entry to Canada for a number of reasons. For example, if you:

• Are suspected of being involved in terroism or espionage
• Have committed human or international rights violations (or are suspected of having committed such offenses)
• Have criminal convictions (even if they don’t go to court)
• Have health conditions that could endanger public health or pose a threat to public safety
• Have insufficient funds or lack of proof of sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your stay
• Have any noncompliance with immigration laws (for example, if you have overstayed a visa)

A further important note about travelling to Canada is that if you are travelling with a child or children then you must have appropriate permission. If you are travelling with children and only one parent is present, you will require a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent. This is not legally required, but is strongly advised and may help you deal with any concerns quickly and efficiently. Immigration officials have the right to question children to establish whether there are any concerns about who they are travelling with, in order to prevent abduction. If you are a legal guardian, or your child does not have the same surname as you, it is wise to obtain further proof, such as a letter of consent, a copy of a birth certificate or other documentation that can prove you are related or that the child is your responsibility.

 

Visas

There are some websites that charge for submitting visa applications on your behalf. These websites are unauthorised and are not endorsed by the Canadian government. You do not need to hire an immigration representative to apply for a visa or Canadian citizenship. Pay attention to potentially fraudulent websites and scams.

Free application forms and guides for all visas can be found on the official CIC website. Processing fees are the same in all Canadian visa offices, consulates and embassies around the world. Fees in local currency when applying abroad are based on official exchange rates and correspond with the set amount in Canadian dollars.

You may need to submit your fingerprints and photos (also known as biometrics or biometric data) at a visa application centre when you apply for a visa, work permit, or permanent residence.

Temporary visas

If you are planning to be in Canada only for a limited period of time, whether that be for study, work or an extended holiday, then the temporary visa is probably the best fit for you. For more information on the different types of temporary visa, please read on.

Student visas

With the Canadian student visa, you can bring your spouse and/or family with you. You will also be able to apply for an open work permit once you have finished your studies.

Visitor visas

The visitor visa, also known as a temporary resident visa (or TRV) can be valid for a period of up to six months. Eligibility depends on your nationality, and you will need to submit your biometrics after you have applied, as well as proof that you have sufficient funds for your stay. You can apply for a visitor visa online, or even whilst you are already in Canada, providing you hold a valid study or work permit. If this is something you would like to do, you should make the application at least two months before you plan to leave Canada.

Working holiday visa

Your country must have an agreement with Canada that allows you to apply for an IEC (international experience Canada) visa. Alternatively, you may be able to use a recognised organisation to obtain a working holiday visa. This visa allows for temporary work, with any employer, and tourism, and is valid for up to 24 months. Dependants of successful applicants are not eligible.

Super visas

The super visa is designed for parents and grandparents to join their family in Canada and is valid for up to 10 years. You may also have the option to sponsor your parents or grandparents so that they can stay permanently under the family sponsorship program.

Federal skilled worker visa

Foreign nationals who wish to acquire permanent residence in Canada can apply for a federal skilled worker category (FSWC) visa, from either inside or outside of Canada. In order to qualify for the skilled workers visa, you will need to accrue at least 67 points out of 100 on the Canadian point system, which is based on a variety of factors ranging from age and experience to qualifications and language skills.

Canadian experience class visa

Applicants for this visa are usually already in Canada on a temporary work permit. This visa is specifically designed for skilled workers who already have a minimum of one year’s experience in Canada, and they must meet the English and French language prerequisites.

Live-in caregiver programme (LCP) visas

This programme and visa is designed for qualified live-in caregivers who are equipped to provide care for children, disabled people or elderly people in private homes. The processing of this particular visa takes time, as it requires very specific work experience, as well as a good grasp of the English or French language. Under this programme, you will have to provide at least 30 hours of care a week.

 

Work permits

You will require experience of working in Canada if you wish to apply for provincial nominee or Canadian express class. If you are not eligible for the federal skilled workers programme, then obtaining a work permit and gaining valuable work experience in Canada can help you on your way to Canadian permanent residence.

The vast majority of people coming to Canada will need a work permit. If you’re not sure whether this applies to you, you can find out on the official website.

There are two types of work permits available to foreigners in Canada: the open work permit and the employer-specific work permit.

Open work permit

An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, except for in employment that offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages, or any of those listed as ineligible due to noncompliance on the official list.

You can only get an open work permit if you meet a certain criteria and/or are in a specific situation. This includes graduated international students, dependent family members of someone who has applied for permanent residence, a spouse or common law partner of someone who has applied for permanent residence, temporary resident / visitor visa holders, and refugees, protected persons and their family members.

Employer specific work permit

An employer specific work permit allows you to work according to specified conditions. This mainly pertains to being legally obligated to work for the specific employer who granted you the work permit, and/or being contractually obligated to a specific length of time working for said employer, and/or being tied to a particular geographical location for the job which you received your work permit for.

 

Residency

Permanent residency in Canada is a highly sought after, and many permanent residents wish to then become Canadian citizens. The appeal of citizenship over residency is that Canadian citizens have many rights that permanent residents do not. For example, Canadian citizens have the right to vote, they can have a Canadian passport, and they can hold public office. Permanent residents are not entitled to the same benefits.

To obtain permanent residency, you will need to contact your nearest consulate, high commission or embassy in order to submit an application to become a permanent resident. You will be required to submit the following along with your application:

• Medical certificate
• Criminal record check
• Completed and signed application forms
• Payment of the appropriate application fees

You will also need to attend interviews with immigration representatives.

Additional supporting documents, which are dependant on you as an individual and your application, may include:

• Originals and copies of documents that support your application, such as education and qualification certificates, personal identification documents and/or sponsor letters and relevant information. This may need to be translated by a certified translator.
• Proof of sufficient funds
• Completion of a skills assessment test
• Proof of refugee status
• Completion of language proficiency tests
• Any additional fees
• Other specifically requested documentation or tests

Candidates can apply for permanent residence under one of six categories:

• Skilled Worker Class Immigration
• Business Class Immigration
• Provincial Nomination
• Family Class Immigration
• Quebec-Selected Immigration
• International Adoption

You can essentially achieve permanent residence in Canada through some selected provincial immigration schemes, by way of being a skilled worker, sponsoring family members, or as an investor or entrepreneur.

Once your application is successful, you should apply for a permanent resident (PR) card to prove your residency status if you travel outside of Canada.

 

Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property

 

Renting Property

Most people will rent when they first arrive in a new country. Some people like to have something sorted before they arrive, and others prefer to look once they arrive, and stay in hostels, hotels or friends’ houses while they search for the perfect place.

Typical rental prices vary according to region, with major cities such as Toronto and Vancouver being more expensive than rural areas, and prices varying within cities depending on the popularity of the zone. Renting a small apartment in a city centre can cost anywhere between $850-1800, whereas a similar sized property on the outskirts of town can cost between $750-1000. A three-bedroom apartment in a major city centre can range from $1,700 to $2,500 whereas the same property outside the city could cost from $1,200 to $1,800.

According to rental site RentSeeker.ca, a one-bedroom apartment will cost you most in Richmond Hill, Ontario, at around $1148 a month, and least in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, where the average rent for a one-bed is just $459. In Vancouver a one-bedroom flat will cost you around $1,079 and in Toronto $1,103. In Montreal you will pay a mere $668 on average and $666 in Quebec City. In Ottawa you are likely to pay around $972 per month. You can generally expect to pay around a $100-200 difference between renting a studio, a one, two or three bedroom apartment. For example in Edmonton a studio will set you back around $871, a one-bedroom apartment $1,029, a two-bed $1,259, and a three-bed $1,388.

In Canada there is a difference between a lease and a rental agreement, with a lease offering more security and stability and a rental agreement offering more freedom to both the landlord and tenant.

A lease is an arrangement where the tenant agrees to stay in the property for a fixed period of time. Most leases last a year, although they can sometimes be six months long or over 12 months long. During the term of the lease the contract can not be changed. This means that the rent must stay the same, the conditions on the contract must not be altered, (for example the landlord can’t suddenly decide to ban smoking in the property halfway through the lease), and the tenant must remain in the property until the lease is up or pay a penalty.

Although a lease is generally considered to be a binding agreement for the full length of its term, there may be occasions where one or other of the parties wish to terminate the agreement prematurely. In this case both parties have to agree to a termination; one cannot end the contract without the consent of the other. If a tenant wants to vacate the property before the end of the lease they will normally have to find someone to take over the lease from them. When signing a lease you should make sure that you are completely content with the terms of your contract, as you will not be able to change them later.

A rental agreement is generally a month-to-month arrangement, affording both parties the freedom to change contract conditions and the possibility to end the contract at the end of any given month. This is often the best option for people who don’t want to commit to a long-term contract, such as students, travellers, and people on temporary residency. Rental agreements usually renew automatically at the end of the month unless either one of the parties gives the other ‘due notice’ (eg. 30 days’ notice). This arrangement gives the tenant the freedom to live somewhere for just a month or two and then move on, and the landlord the freedom to up or lower the rent more often. While rental agreements offer flexibility, leases offer longer-term security, and are the better option for those who are looking to set up a ‘home’.

Most landlords require a deposit at the beginning of the contract, which is usually equal to a month’s rent. This is often used to pay the last month’s rent on the contract, but if not it is returned to the tenant at the end of the contract with interest. In Ontario, landlords cannot use this deposit to cover damages to the property, and in Quebec they can’t charge a deposit at all. In many provinces however, if the property is damaged during your contract, the deposit may be used to cover the expenses, and can also be used to cover unpaid rent or cleaning if you leave the property very dirty. When handing over a deposit cheque to a landlord, make sure you get a receipt with the apartment address and the landlord’s name and phone number written on it. Once you are in the property you should also always ask for a receipt if paying by cash or cheque, so that you have proof of payment.

When looking to rent a property you should ask whether utilities are included in the rent, and what they are likely to cost you if not. You should ask whether you can make changes to the home such as painting and decorating, if you are allowed to smoke or keep pets in the house, if there is parking available, what the neighbourhood is like and how safe it is, what the other tenants are like and who maintains the property.

If you have your own furniture to bring you will most likely opt for an unfurnished flat. Unfurnished flats generally contain only essential appliances such as a fridge, washing machine and dishwasher. Unfurnished properties allow you more freedom to tailor your surroundings to your tastes, as all the furniture is yours and you can arrange it how you like. They are also usually cheaper than furnished flats and have lower security deposits. There are generally many more unfurnished apartments available than furnished.

Most rental agreement flats will be furnished and are usually equipped with basic furniture such as tables, chairs and beds. This is usually the easiest and most convenient option for people who move a lot and those who don’t want the burden of owning and having to move big pieces of furniture. Rent is usually higher for furnished apartments but the cost of buying furniture is saved.

 

Buying Property

House prices are generally on the rise in Canada, and have been rising almost continuously for the past 15 years. The cities with the biggest rises in house prices during the year to August 2016 were Vancouver (25.75%), Victoria (17.55%) and Toronto (14.59%). House prices fell in Calgary (-4.48%), Quebec (-3.18%) and Edmonton (-0.34%). The main reason for the rise in house prices is that mortgage rates in the country are very low. Nationwide house prices are set to rise by more than 10% in the coming year, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

When looking to buy a property in Canada you will usually want to look for a local licensed estate agent who will find suitable properties for you, negotiate with the seller’s agent on your behalf and advise you on the terms and closing of the contract. Real estate agents who are members of real estate boards are automatically also members of the Canadian Real Estate Association and can call themselves Realtors. Most agents are realtors, and are held to a higher standard of ethics than regular agents and must also abide by a particular Code of Ethics.

Estate agents must obtain a province-issued licence, and most provinces require continuing education in order to keep the licence active. Licensing requirements vary from province to province but most involve completing coursework and a test. Realtors can only practise in the province they have been licensed in.

Real estate agents take their fees in the form of commission on the sale of the house. This usually varies from 3-7% and is different around the country. In British Columbia and Alberta the typical rate is 7/3%, i.e. 7% on the first 100,000 and 3% on the remainder. In Ontario and Quebec for example the usual rate is 5%. The services of a realtor are free for the buyer.

Apart from visiting estate agency offices, properties can also be found on the internet, as there are many property websites such as www.rightmove.co.uk, which also feature properties in Canada, as well as real estate listing sites based in Canada such as www.remax.ca. You can also look on bulletin boards in local shops and cafes for adverts, check the classified section of newspapers, or simply walk around your local area looking for properties with ‘for sale’ signs.

The use of buyers’ agents is relatively new in Canada but common in the US. Buyers’ agents represent the buyer instead of the seller, and should provide an unbiased opinion on properties, as buyers’ agents aren’t selling properties on their own listings like real estate agents. They are generally paid a percentage of the sales commission paid to the listing Realtor. Buyers’ agents should also be licensed real estate agents.

If planning on staying in the country for 6 months or less per year you are considered a non-resident of Canada, but can still open a bank account and purchase property in the country. In most provinces there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property, although in some places there may be a limit to the amount of land you are able to purchase. In Vancouver there is now a 15% additional tax for non-Canadian citizens and non-permanent residents, due to the huge rise in house prices there stemming from foreign, particularly Chinese, investment in the property market.

Once you have found a Realtor, obtained a mortgage and found your ideal property, you make an offer, and once accepted you put down the deposit. A written offer is made, and if you withdraw from the deal at this stage you may lose the deposit. Once the offer is made it is presented to the seller, and negotiations may follow on the price and chattels, i.e. the items that are included in the price (fixtures, carpets, appliances etc). The seller prints his initials on the changes and the document is returned to you for you to initial if you approve of the changes. The result is an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, which states the purchase price and deposit, which is then put in a trust account. Once both parties are content with the agreement they can set the closing day, or completion date, which is when the money will be exchanged and the lawyer’s fees paid. The keys can then be handed over.

For permanent residents and Canadian citizens, a mortgage can typically be obtained at 75% of the purchase price over a 25-year term. Non-residents can typically take out a 65% mortgage and have to pay 35% as a down payment. Qualifying for a mortgage depends on your credit rating, assets, income and savings. The estate agent can help you to look for a mortgage broker. After submitting the application, the relevant documentation approval usually takes one to two days. The documentation required typically includes proof of income, tax returns, ID and bank statements, among other things.

In order to prepare the mortgage documents the borrower may need to enlist the services of a lawyer. A real estate lawyer is also useful when negotiating and signing the deeds to the property. You can expect to pay around $1,500 in legal fees and disbursements by the end of the buying process. You can look for a suitable lawyer on sites such as www.canadian-lawyers.ca, or ask your real estate agent or acquaintances for contacts. You can also check with your provincial law society to find nearby lawyers as well as check the reputation of a prospective lawyer. It is best to look for a competitively-priced lawyer rather than a cheap one, as often price buys quality in complicated legal matters.

 

Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: Canada health insurance

The Canadian state system, commonly referred to overall as Medicare, is split across the different provinces and territories. Your health insurance will therefore be geographically dictated, both in terms of cost and in terms of the treatments covered. Your employer is likely to sign you up for a particular group policy, which is compulsory, so your choice of health insurance will probably not be very extensive.

For example, if you are going to be living and working in Alberta, you will be registered with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). If resident in Manitoba, you will be eligible for Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living.

Doctors themselves are self-employed and invoice their provincial authority to cover their costs. If you are registered with the local insurance scheme, your healthcare will be free at the point of delivery for any treatments covered under your plan, but you may have to pay out-of-pocket costs for other medical care.

Everyone who has residency, who is registered with their provincial provider, and who is making health insurance contributions, will be eligible for state healthcare in Canada. The requirement for this is that you are in the country for up to 183 days per year. Some provinces require that you are in Canada for an initial 153 consecutive days out of the 183 in order to be eligible for state insurance.

All provinces have slightly different registration requirements, so it is important that you check before arrival to find out what you will need to take with you in order to register. You will usually need your passport, residency and immigration documents, work permit, and a completed application form relevant to your region.

There can be a three-month waiting period in some regions before you are issued with your health insurance card, so you may need private cover during this period. Some provinces will sign you up immediately.

In order to register with a doctor, you can consult the local phone directory or search online, or contact a community health centre (a Centre local de services communautaires in Quebec) in your area. There are walk-in clinics available; an online system called Medimap can assist you in locating these.

If you have had to undergo a medical examination before arriving in Canada, you may have been told that you need to report to the “public health authorities,” a process known as “medical surveillance.”

If this was the case, you must contact the public health authority in the province or territory where you live within 30 days of your arrival. If you do not report to the public health authority, you may not be granted residency until the issue has been resolved. After you have your assessment, however, no future changes to your health will affect your immigration status.

Note that you may have no choice other than signing up with a provider chosen by your employer, with no opt-out clause, and this may not prove to be the cheapest option.

 

Open A Bank Account

Canada’s banking system has been ranked the world’s safest for the past six years according to the World Economic Forum. Canada’s chartered banks have over 8,000 branches and 18,000 ATMs across the country. The Royal Bank of Canada was rated the tenth safest bank in the world by Global Finance magazine in 2010, and the Toronto-Dominion Bank rated fifteenth.

The largest and most dominant banks in the Canadian banking industry are known as the Big Five. These are the Royal Bank of Canada, the Toronto-Dominion Bank, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. These are among the 20 strongest $100-billion-asset banks in the world. Other large banks include the National Bank of Canada, HSBC Bank Canada, the Laurentian Bank of Canada, the Churchill Investments Group, Canadian Western Bank and ATB Financial.

The major banks all have specific newcomer accounts with incentives for new arrivals to the country. While all of these banks have monthly fees attached to their current (chequing) accounts, Tangerine Bank, a subsidiary of Scotiabank, charges no fees and even pays a small amount of interest, and so is a good option for newcomers wishing to save money (www.tangerine.ca). Monthly charges at other banks can range from $5 to $30 a month but most will refund this money if the balance of the account is maintained at around $1000-1500. All ATMs charge fees unless you use the ATM attached to your own bank. The charge is usually around $1.50.

The HSBC is the seventh largest bank in Canada, and offers services tailored to expats. HSBC Expat has won the Forum for Expatriate Management Award for ‘Best Expatriate Banking Service of the Year’ for the past four years, and offers a flexible current account for expats with a choice of currencies and cards (www.expat.hsbc.com). HSBC Canada also allows you the convenient option of opening an account while still in the UK. The Bank of Montreal, the CIBC and the Royal Bank of Canada also allow you to open an account before your arrival in Canada, but only allow the account to be activated once you get to Canada. You do not have to be a permanent resident to open one of these accounts.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca) features the Account Selector Tool on its website, which enables users to compare features of different bank accounts, their interest rates, fees and services and choose the best fit for them.

The two main types of account available in Canadian banks are chequing accounts (current accounts) and savings accounts. Chequing accounts generally have low interest fees but low monthly fees and a debit card attached to the account, while savings accounts typically offer higher interest rates and may limit the amount of withdrawals allowed per month. Chequing accounts are more efficient for day-to-day banking. In order to open an account you will normally need to bring identification such as photo ID, your Social Security Number and a temporary or permanent resident permit. You may be asked to bring other documentation such as a working permit or proof of address, depending on the bank, however it is not necessary to be in employment in order to open an account. There is also no charge to open an account. Eligibility for overdrafts and loans will usually depend on your credit history and your capability of paying off the debt. Some banks will accept a credit report from your home country.

Bank opening hours are usually from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and most do not close for lunch, although in rural areas banks may have part-time opening hours. Many banks close on statutory holidays, although internet banking allows you to perform many operations remotely at any time of the day and year.

Useful Resources

HSBC Canada
Tel: 1 888 310 4722
www.hsbc.ca

Citibank Canada
Citigroup Place
123 Front St W
Suite 1100
Toronto, ON
M5J 2M3
Tel: 416 947 5500
www.citi.com/canada

Bank of Montreal
Tel: 1 877 225 5266
www.bmo.com

Scotiabank
Tel: 1 800 267 1234
www.scotiabank.com

Royal Bank of Canada
Tel: 1 800 769 2511
www.rbc.com

TD Canada Trust
Tel: 1 866 222 3456
www.tdcanadatrust.com

National Bank of Canada
Tel: 514 394 5555
www.nbc.ca

Canadian Western Bank Group
Tel: 1 800 663 1124
www.cwbankgroup.com

 

Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

Save On Money Transfers

Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers

Learn The Language

Canada is a vast, ecologically diverse country to the north of the United States. It is part of the Commonwealth of Nations, and also has a large and proud community of French descent, mainly in Quebec province.

Canada is the world’s second largest country, and has a well-developed economy based on natural resources, and is a stable, peaceful, multi-cultural country, with extremely high standards of education: well over half of all adults have attained a college or university degree.

The population of Canada is over 38 million, almost half of whom claim British or Irish descent, with a further 14% identifying as French. There are also significant Asian and Chinese groups in most major cities, but more especially on the West coast. 4% of the population is First Nation, living largely on the reserves.

Canada has a high standard of living, and a booming job market in many areas. There are expat communities (particularly British) in most larger cities. The expat lifestyle is rich and diverse, and many people never want to leave.

Almost all the population lives towards the south of the country, and more than 80% live in or around the cities.

This mean that there are also significant areas of Canada which are very sparsely populated, being wilderness, desert, or mountain ranges, or Arctic tundra to the far north. This diversity of space, coupled with its fascinating history also makes Canada a major tourist destination.

There are two official languages in Canada. English is spoken by the vast majority, and French is spoken mainly in Quebec, but widely taught in schools as a second language. Canadian French has some minor linguistic differences from Standard French. There are 600 recognised First Nations bands, with eleven major language groups and 65 dialects. More than two thirds of the population speak English or are bilingual, with up to a fifth identifying as French-speaking. Among many minority languages, Chinese is one of the largest, being spoken by more than a million people throughout Canada.

Many Canadians are taught both official languages in school, but do not get much chance to practice their French outside of Quebec, although there are French speaking enclaves in New Brunswick, Manitoba, Ontario, and even Alberta to the west.

If you are planning to live in Canada, you will need to consider the ease with which you are able to communicate. Unless you are going to Quebec, you will probably not need to learn or polish up your French. Outside of Quebec, you really need to be fairly fluent in English to get by.

Learning at least some of the local language is one of the best ways for an expat to integrate and begin to feel more at home. Even a few words will make your hosts feel that you are making an effort, which can often bring about a smile of acceptance, and in Quebec this can be vital, as the Quebecois are extremely defensive of the French heritage and culture.

If English is not your first language, your best option is to enroll in an online course before you go, or alternatively you can register with an international school when you arrive.

Linguistic experts generally recommend an immersive learning experience as the quickest way to attain fluency in any language. If you are planning to go to Quebec as a couple, it is a good plan to make a pact to speak in French together as often as possible. Immersing yourself in native language television and newspapers is also highly productive. You are also likely to find locals who will help with conversation in the workplace, or over a coffee or a beer, if you ask. Quebecois are fiercely proud of their French language, and will respond much more warmly if you at least try.

For self-teaching in either main language, there are a large number of courses available on the internet – many free. It is better that you try to gain at least some knowledge before you go, but these courses can still be very useful for your continued linguistic development on arrival. There are also many international language schools throughout Canada, which offer a wide range of courses in French and other languages. These can be found on the internet, or on the ground when you arrive.

There are many jobs for expats available throughout Canada. Commerce, environment, IT, medicine and pharmaceutical, agriculture, banking, and teaching are all good areas to explore.

In Quebec you will be expected to be bilingual or fluent in French, but there are very few TESOL or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) jobs in Quebec, because they do not want to dilute the strength of their own language. There are opportunities to teach English elsewhere in the country but because Canada is English-speaking, this is a very competitive market and demand for teachers from abroad is not high in this sector.

If you want to work elsewhere in Canada, then your English will need to be sufficient to allow you to function in your chosen field.

If you have a high level of proficiency in both languages, there is some demand for translation or interpretation services between French and English, especially in government departments, which are officially bilingual.

 

Choose A School

Canada is a wealthy nation, and has a population of around 37,500,000, more than 80% now living in urban conditions. There is also a huge, active expat community, many with children of school age.

The government of Canada places a very high emphasis on improving education standards for its entire population, spending around 6% of GDP on the state education system, well above the OECD average. The effect of this is borne out by its top ten PISA score, and the literacy rate, which again is one of the highest in the world at around 99%.

The Canadian education system is excellent and diverse, with provincial variances geared towards regional development. Education is compulsory to age 16 throughout Canada, and in three provinces to age 18: Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Ontario.

Education in Canada ultimately falls under the remit of Ministry of Education, which has set out strong curriculum guidelines for all schools, both public and private. Provincial variation of delivery means that it is vital to check the details with the provincial authority if you are intending to place your children in state schools.

The provincial variations start at nursery/kindergarten level – there are public, private, and federal nursery and pre-school facilities – some funded (or partially so), and one or two compulsory. At primary and secondary level there are again both state and private schools, some of which will be at least partially funded in some provinces.

The education system in Canada is based on a conglomeration of British and American principles, with a three-term school year beginning in September and ending with exams in June, and the school day starting at 08:30 or 09:00, and ending at around 15:00.

School levels (ages may differ according to Provincial regulations):

• Pre-primary – (optional or compulsory) age 4 or 5
• Primary – age 5 – 11, or 6 – 12

Secondary education is divided into two phases:

• Middle school – age 11 to 13 or 12 – 14
• Senior school – age 13 – 17 or 14 – 18

In addition to the state-funded system there are extensive private facilities throughout the nation, and many international schools, often with their own philosophical, national or religious stances, tailoring their curricula to the requirements of their respective communities, and covering tuition for all ages.

Additionally, homeschooling is another realistic option in Canada, being legally and enthusiastically recognized in all provinces. However, it must be borne in mind that each province has its own regulations and regulatory bodies, so it is vital to do your research and contact the authorities as soon as possible if you intend to take this route. There are organisations which can help with a full education plan, and a support network in larger conurbations which may organize sports days, trips and gatherings. Home educated children may still be required to sit exams at appropriate times. Extra-curricular activities, such as sports, are also the responsibility of the parent. Home visits and regular reporting will generally be carried out to ensure your child is being homeschooled adequately.

Whilst teaching in the state system is of an exceptionally high standard, there will still be many expats looking at international schools for their own children’s education as it may fit better with their plans, and would allow their children seamless transfer to education in other countries. As in most countries, competition for places at the best private or international schools in Canada can be fierce, and you are strongly advised to contact your school of choice as early as possible.

Private school curricula will adhere to Ministry of Education requirements as a minimum, but will differ in emphasis, especially faith-based schools. The overall emphasis is on a well-rounded, multicultural, and multilingual education, to provide students with the best chance to succeed.

Top private schools in Canada include:

• Appleby College, ON
• Brentwood College School, BC
• Vancouver College, BC
• St Andrews College, ON

Top Canadian international schools (IBDP) include:

• Branksome Hall, ON
• Upper Canadian College, ON
• Lower Canadian College, QC
• Academie La Fontaine, QC
• St Clement Catholic, AB
• Strathcona-Tweedsmuir, AB
• Mulgrave, BC
• Alexandra Academy, BC
• Balmoral Hall, MB
• North Battleford, SK
• Charles P. Allen, NS
• Halifax Grammar, NS

There are many different schools to choose from, and careful local research will be required. Fees, curricula, and extra-curricular activities will vary considerably, and need to be ascertained with the individual school. Schools offering the full International Baccalaureate Diploma Program will always be in high demand, and generally have fees to match. As always, it is also important to look at the small print – many private and international schools will expect ‘donations’ to capital funds for maintenance/expansion projects.

Whilst many high school graduates may want to further their education overseas, higher education opportunities in Canada are amongst the best in the world, with some of the very best universities. Many expats and their children do not want to leave Canada once arriving there. Given the overall quality of education in Canada, choices are wide open for those who go through the Canadian education system public or private.

 

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